25 November 2009

Movie Review: Unmistaken Child

As I began watching this movie, I thought... this reminds me of when my mentor lama and I made a pilgrimage to Southern India to receive an important teaching and secret initiation from HH the XIV Dalai Lama. My mentor-lama told me that some cultures have gay communities, others have monasteries. With over 150,000 people in a small farming village on the edge of a vast desert, many of them being monks, it occurred to me for the first time the cultural and historical context for a "gay identity."

The protagonist of this documentary, the monk Tenzin Zopa, knew at a very early age that he had no interest in girls or arranged marriages. This translated in his isolated valley/village as such thing to be pre-ordained if he got the blessing of the hermit-lama who lived in a cave out passed the fields. "He would marry and work in the fields." He received the blessing of that hermit-lama in the cave. And subsequently became his private attendant. The movie starts when the hermit-lama has passed away and the high Lamas have decided it is for this younger attendant lama to find his master's reincarnation.

The question that persists for much of the film is... will Tenzin Zopa have the strength and discipline to find his master's reincarnation with someone who believes himself to be so ordinary and not extraordinary?

It would only be appropriate that an hour into the movie, this movie which was ambling through the Himalayas in search of Lama Konchog's reincarnation would cross paths with my pilgrimage with my mentor-lama in Southern India -- to the same teaching and secret initiation. As the movie ambled on, even we, unknowingly were swept up into the documentary as a flicker of an instant as the camera swept over the multitude of tribes and wanderers at the pilgrimage. And that is where the intersection ended until now, when years later, it again intersected in the form of a DVD.

Sogyal Rinpoche said this:
Every spiritual tradition has stressed that this human life is unique and has a potential that ordinarily we don’t even begin to imagine. If we miss the opportunity this life offers us for transforming ourselves, they say, it may well be an extremely long time before we have another.

Imagine a blind turtle roaming the depths of an ocean the size of the universe. Up above floats a wooden ring, tossed to and fro on the waves. Every hundred years, the turtle comes, once, to the surface. To be born a human being is said by Buddhists to be more difficult than for that turtle to surface accidentally with its head poking through the wooden ring.

And even among those who have a human birth, it is said, those who have the great good fortune to make a connection with the teachings are rare, and those who really take them to heart and embody them in their actions even rarer—as rare, in fact, “as stars in broad daylight.”
What are you doing with your precious human life?

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