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Thread: Amongst White Clouds

  1. #1

    Amongst White Clouds

    A friend brought this movie over the other night. He got it in the mail from a friend and didn't know what it was. Once we put it the DVD player, we realized we didn't have time to watch the whole thing, but it looks good. I'll borrow it later and watch the whole thing. Here is the link.

    Apparently, this movie has been out since 2007. Anyone seen the whole thing? Anyway, here's a description:
    American director Edward A. Burger takes us on his unforgettable journey into the hidden lives of China's forgotten Zen Buddhist hermit tradition. "Amongst White Clouds is a look at the lives of zealot students, gaunt ascetics and wise masters living in isolated hermitages dotting the peaks and valleys of China's Zhongnan Mountain range." The Zhongnan Mountains have been home to recluses since the time of the Yellow Emperor, some five thousand years ago. Many of China's most realized Buddhist masters attained enlightenment in this very range! And now? It is widely thought that this tradition was all but wiped out by the twists and turns of history. "Amongst White Clouds" shows us this is not the case. One of only a few foreigners to have lived and studied with these hidden sages, Burger reveals to us their tradition, their wisdom, and the hardship and joy of their everyday lives. With both humor and compassion, these inspiring and warm-hearted characters challenge us to join them in an exploration of our own suffering and enlightenment in this modern world.
    From what I saw, the content was nothing I haven't heard before, but ya gotta admire those hermit ascetics' devotion. But then again, it's a lot harder in some ways living up to our Buddhism in the complicated world than it is out in nature. This is NOT to take anything away from what they are doing, because that life would kill me in no time at all.

  2. #2

    Re: Amongst White Clouds


    Very good film.
    Really a treasure.
    Here's the trailer...[/video]]


  3. #3

    Re: Amongst White Clouds

    It's a very good movie!
    I've seen a few weeks ago ... on google video... I know it's BAD but I did... :roll:

    But for those who can pay the DVD version go for it! :twisted:

    Thank you Alanla for sharing!


  4. #4

    Re: Amongst White Clouds

    A very good movie.

    When I was a young man (about 18-19), I had a very short opportunity to live in a similar situation. I was not in the mountains (I was near Bancroft, Ontario on the granite "shield") - out in the middle of nowhere with very few neighbors. The house was very rough - wood heat, outdoor toilet, haul your own water from the well, etc.

    I loved it - it was very peaceful. You found your own pace and rhythm. It forced me to to face the responsibilities of life (as it were) - if I needed water, for example, it didn't matter that was dark outside (and bears may have been lurking - or worse - skunks!) or cold out, if water needed to be drawn then it needed to be drawn, pure and simple.

    Sometimes people would stop by to visit - locals would be curious - but they were so generous with their knowledge and skills. They would tell me where I could find certain kinds of trees or they would even sharpen my axe for me without expecting anything in return. I wasn't used to that!

    I think this experience (about a year and a half long) allowed me to see life from a point of view that many people often don't see. I know that later, when I joined the navy, it seemed that my perspective was different from most in the barracks (I enjoyed the drinking and company - but sometimes too much is just too much).

    I don't know if what I wrote makes sense to others here, but I guess what I'm saying is that should you get a chance to live in this type of situation (even if not so extreme as the monk in the film), jump on it. It will certainly change your life.


  5. #5

    Re: Amongst White Clouds

    I relate to these ascetics on a different level. In some ways, I think, when life is difficult it makes practice more simple. This is clearly true for these ascetics, but from my experience it can also be true for people undergoing difficult medical procedures. When I was about about 15, I went in for a, as in one, spinal fusion on January 23rd. I left the hospital four fusions later on June 21st - not that those days still resonate with me at all :shock: . It was the signature moment of my life, the one thing that shaped me more than any other single event. After the first failed fusion, an operation that was supposed to last about four hours but ended up lasting something like 8-10 hours, my lung collapsed while my mom was reading me get well cards. I passed out and turned blue, she got some help, and I woke up watching some guy with his hands in my side (he was putting in chest tubes to drain the fluid), and then life got difficult. My dad flew in from out of town and I watched the gray hairs grow in number on his mustache every time they got to visit me, which was for 10 minutes every two hours. I was fine, but what was hard was watching them suffer. For me it just a simple matter of survival, but not in the life/death sense. I never felt I was close to death, because having a lung collapse in intensive care surrounded by experts totally prepared to deal with such a thing is really not that big a problem :shock: . Let me back up a bit

    I was used to hospitals and surgery. As they say here in Texas, this was not my first rodeo. I had learned the ropes through multiple visits to hospitals for various operations. Long before I may have ever even heard about zen I had learned acceptance without acceptance, even if Jundo was the one that finally gave me that phrase. When I entered a hospital I entered a "zen" state of acceptance of whatever was going to happen to me; that was survival, because I had already learned that fighting what was happening was pointless and only made things worse. But at the same time I always and fervently fought against what was happening inside my body; totally two things, duality worked well for me there, yet I don't ever recall thinking of it that way. For me it's not so hard to see this acceptance/non-acceptance conflict. Okay, back to life as difficult yet simple.

    It was not hard being in intensive care in the sense that the more I needed it the easier it was. It was me being ascetic, of course it was by necessity. Needs were taken care of, and that was all there was to life in that moment, and there was only that moment. Only when I started to feel better did it become hard, because then I started to want things - a future, namely. It wasn't peaceful, because peace was completely meaningless in those difficult yet simple moments. Peace is something we want far more often than something we truly experience, or so I have come to learn (and learn and learn...). No, it was just simple, practice, long before I knew it as practice, moment by moment existence. I was beyond pleasure and remember no pain. In my most difficult moments I was just there. There's even more to this that I won't share here, and I'll PM that to Jundo, but let me leave it with you as a very spiritual time. I wonder now if all this is what set me up so well to take to zen the way a bird takes to the air, stumbling and fumbling all the way yet knowing it was where I was supposed to be.

    Those guys in China are great, but there's lots of buddhas in intensive care units all over the world right now, and they don't know it.

  6. #6

    Re: Amongst White Clouds

    Thank you very much, Alan.

    The mountain to climb and build one's hut is found in countless places.

    Deep Bows, J

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