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Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question - Dhamma Wheel

Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
ricketybridge
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Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby ricketybridge » Tue Apr 05, 2011 7:58 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm new here, so if I break any rules or offend anyone, apologies in advance. (Also, this is quite long, so feel free to respond on any point, even if you haven't read the whole thing.)

I'm currently experiencing a phenomenon much like the one starter posted about last week, but which has, I think, an additional complication.

So, I'm one of those wannabe screenwriters in Hollywood with a day job at a studio. Although professions of this kind aren't directly mentioned in Right Livelihood, I feel very much like the actor Buddha speaks to about why performing in theatrical shows is against the dhamma. I grew up wanting nothing but to be a writer, and feel chagrined and betrayed to find (on a visceral level) that it is not, in fact, the way to true happiness.

I'm discovering multiple layers to the problems with this field, including things which I previously not only didn't look down on, but celebrated:

1) As Buddha mentions to the actor, practically the entire purpose of theatrical shows is to engender desire in the audience. This takes its most obvious form in beautiful actors, visuals, music, etc., but it's more than that: the very core of a story is desire. That's like the first thing they teach you in Writing 101: the main character must have an objective--the stronger, the better. It's no accident that there are no movies (as far as I know) with a Buddhist monk as a main character (lol). So because of my dhamma exploration, I'm finding it harder and harder to relate to characters' problems and how seriously they take them, and am finding it a bit difficult to enjoy the entertainments I once worshiped. And I'm not talking dumb action movies--I've never been into those anyway--but even the highest examples of cinema and theater of all time. I'm just experiencing far too much equanimity to get into these things.

2) Because of the above, I'm finding it harder to be "inspired" these days. If I can't buy into people's desires (even my own), then how can I possibly (or why would I) fabricate new ones for imaginary people? Most of my inspiration (and that of others, I'm sure) has come from my agita over own life's problems. Well, eliminate one's agita, and what's left to write about? The dhamma, I guess, but as I mentioned, that does not make for good drama. I suppose I could write about characters finding enlightenment or whatever, but I would still have to be immersed in the desire and struggle on the way there. And writing isn't just an intellectual engagement; as with an actor, if you're going to write anything half-way decent, your emotions have to be in high gear: you feel with and through your characters. This is, needless to say, not conducive to a peaceful mentality. I'm realizing that it's no accident that so many writers are alcoholics or drug addicts or kill themselves.

3) Even at my boring day job at the studio, my mind is constantly bombarded with the greed, lust and pride so inherent to this business. I know that I can work at being aware of it and its effect on me, and I have been, but I'm just saying that this yet one more facet of the atmosphere I've immersed myself in.

4) Worst of all, I'm finding my ambition dwindling--which is death in this highly competitive field. This is basically what starter talked about, but I doubt that the answer is that I'm just being lazy and should really apply myself harder at this business of desire. I'm not really even sure what I'm asking here. For permission to quit, I guess. Actually, I'm getting towards the end of taking my stab at it, and if my career doesn't take off in a year or so, then I will quit. But until then, I've seriously considered purposefully forgetting about Buddhism and immersing myself back in desire and ambition, even if that means (and it probably will) being as horrifically unhappy as I was prior to thinking along these lines (which started about a year ago, when I wasn't studying Buddhism per se, but other stuff that had a similar effect). Effectively, I'm saying that I value my pride over my happiness--which, I know, is ludicrous and destructive. I'm like that guy in the Matrix who regrets having left the Matrix and wants to return; he actually wishes he still lived in delusion. (Of course I would reference a movie to explain this.)

But of course I won't do that. I just can't make myself miserable on purpose. But I feel like continuing to learn and apply myself to the dhamma will inevitably result in my writing grinding down to a halt. Have any of you guys experienced anything like this? Help?? Like one of retro's posts said, how is it possible to live in both worlds like this? Is it?

Thanks, everyone.

Jhana4
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby Jhana4 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:13 pm

In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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daverupa
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby daverupa » Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:35 pm


ricketybridge
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby ricketybridge » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:32 pm


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Ben
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:46 pm

Speaking from experience, there is a huge gulf between anhedonia and equanimity. Anhedonia has more similarity with sloth and torpor and is underpinned by aversion to many things that were previously seen as pleasurable. Certainly during the beginning of one's practice there may be a tendency to mis-identify anhedonia as equanimity but as soon as one develops some depth of practice, one becomes acutely aware of the difference.
Real equanimity is characterised by an open and aware state of mind that neither relishes nor recoils.

Good luck with sorting out your livelihood issues.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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daverupa
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby daverupa » Tue Apr 05, 2011 10:40 pm


ricketybridge
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby ricketybridge » Tue Apr 05, 2011 10:49 pm


chownah
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby chownah » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:52 am

ricketybridge,
Seems that you might be changing professions soon.....best to start thinking or planning about what your next profession will be....seems to me that you see major down sides to your existing work but you are trying to stick with it....perhaps you are actually stuck with it for lack of other plans or skills and so you are looking for justification to continue....I'm probably wrong about this but that's how it looks from here.....

(notice my clever usage of "stick with it" and "stuck with it"...if you quit your job as a creative writer could you recommend me as your replacement?)
chownah

alan
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby alan » Wed Apr 06, 2011 4:22 am

Quit your job and go travel. Find a story that moves you and write about it.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:25 am

Hi, ricketybridge,
I share your concerns about Hollywood movies. Most of them are technically impressive but morally, ethically and intellectually trashy. That's okay for me as a consumer - I can just stay away - but not so good if you're in the business of making them.
Going back to your OP: #2 and #4 make perfect sense in terms of #1 so what you think is bothering you may well be exactly what's bothering you. If so, equanimity is only a partial solution - if you're feeling bad because a man-eating crocodile is about to eat you, the *best* solution is to run like hell; saying 'Oh well, at least the crocodile will be happy,' is not so good. :tongue:
Alan's advice is good - write about what inspires you. Ditto about looking for projects with good values. That may mean moving away from a total commitment to Hollywood. Indie movies? Maybe. But also be aware that all sorts of other groups need good communicators - groups like Avaaz, Kiva, dhamma groups, environmental action groups - so there are lots of opportunities to contribute meaningfully through your writing skills. It's just a bit sad that the more support they deserve, the less money they usually have; you can end up making it your dana (as I do) and having to earn your bread with less worthwhile jobs.
[We break for this community announcement: Freelance editor/writer seeks gainful employment. PM Kim O'Hara with project outline. No, I'm not entirely serious - but I wouldn't mind a bit more paid work. :tongue: ]
Getting back to movies and your comment about lack of them featuring Buddhist monks - I can think of two good ones and one bad one. The two good ones are Kundun and Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring. The bad one is about a young Tibetan monk who disrobes because he is tormented by lust and then tempted by a village woman; I can't even remember its name but that's okay - you shouldn't go looking for it anyway. :tongue:
:namaste:
Kim

chownah
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby chownah » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:53 am

Kim O'Hara,
What do you think of the American TV series "Kung Fu"...you know the one starring David Carridine (don't know how to spell it)...a read of his biography is interesting...especially the ending......perhaps this is a morality tale the OP should read since he's in the same profession..........

chownah

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cooran
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby cooran » Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:22 am

Hello all,

Brings to mind a previous thread:

Actors go to Hell?
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=6552

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Kim OHara
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:15 am


ricketybridge
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby ricketybridge » Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:59 pm


ricketybridge
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby ricketybridge » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:27 pm


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salmon
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby salmon » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:49 am

Films can pander to defilements. Films can also spread teachings. Depends on your intention and perspective.
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~

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JeffR
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Re: Working in Entertainment -- a Right Livelihood question

Postby JeffR » Sat Apr 16, 2011 2:27 am

I haven't read the entire thread but would like to point out that the cinematic sector could use a bit of dhamma influence.


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