Journey of a Thousand Buddhas

Cliff Giaviano
Educational Media Reviews Online

This video is the first in John Bush's Yatra series of three pilgrimages he wishes to share with his audience. Yatra is defined in the distributor's media kit as the Sanskrit word for a sacred journey undertaken by the believer to partake of the unique living presence found in the sacred spaces of Buddhism. The video is organized as a series of journeys through a selection of the places sacred to Buddhism in Thailand, Laos and Burma. Bush's narrative provides an introduction to the concepts of Buddhism while explaining the context of the religion's relationships to the peoples and sacred places of South Asia. The viewer is spared the heat and the tropical rains that make these locations as lush and as beautiful as only tropical Asia can be. The film may work just as well as a survey of Buddhist art. The depictions of the murals and temple decorations inside the major temples are extraordinary. Again, the narrative ties these glorious art works to Buddhism and hints at the rites and rituals the beauty inspires.

Technically, the video is as excellent as its content. John Bush, who also is the cinematographer, has filmed his locations lovingly and in the perfect light to complement the mood he is trying to obtain and to highlight the complexity and intricacy of the art- and metal-work of the Buddhist temples. Careful editing of the images with the music selected to complement this pilgrimage builds the film into a comprehensive sharing of the experience with the viewer. Then, once the viewer has connected with the locations through the narration, the DVD version can be set to run the video with music only, no narrative, to augment the spiritual aspects of the scenes. As an aid to meditation, segments can be programmed to the viewer's preference, repeated or looped to concentrate spiritual contemplation. The DVD is an extraordinary achievement.

The video itself provides a subtle introduction to the themes of Buddhism. The viewer observes some worship of the Buddha and sees examples of rituals, the significance of which is not explained. This lends itself well to teaching since the curious student will naturally want to know more about worship in general and the particular practices shown. There is a clear contrast made with Judaism and Christianity in which God is worshiped and the worship of the Buddha: worship of human enlightenment as to the nature of being, a contrast sure to evoke discussion. Caution suggests that instructors in the public schools may wish to avoid mentioning personal spiritual preferences. A study guide suitable for audiences of students in grade eleven and higher is planned. Direct Pictures anticipates making the guide available on its website and will deliver it with academic orders for the video.

Finally, the DVD version was designed for the practitioner as well as for the novice. For practicing Buddhists, the video is also an obvious aid to individual and perhaps to corporate worship. It has endless educational and worship possibilities for Buddhist viewers.

click here to return to REVIEWS page

follow us on twitter