|My Bodhi Seed Mala and the Bardo Thodol|
This one from the National Film Board of Canada is as much a teaching as it is a documentary.
It is the story of a young monk's first experience visiting the home of a dying man to assist his teacher in easing the pain of passing for the man and his family.
My most vivid memory of this film is watching it in a small, makeshift theatre in Dharamsala, India filled with sweaty travellers and gentle monks.
How wonderful and otherworldly it was to crowd around a television set on thin matresses and cushions on the floor to listen to the voice of Leonard Cohen narrating these ancient and timeless teachings.
The next time I saw it was with my peers in a Literary Tibetan class at the University of Alberta. We had memorized the entire Tibetan alphabet in 48 hours and spent the rest of the course transliterating and translating lines from this text, the Bardo Thodol.
The images in the film and the stories our professor (a wonderful German woman in her last year of teaching) told us about life with her Tibetan husband have blurred in my mind.
Watching this now, I am flooded with memories from the bardo of my own existence and a new sense of urgency to wake up!
"Anything that has a shape will crumble away. Anything in a flock will disband. We are all like bees, alone in this world, buzzing and searching with no place to rest. So we offer this prayer: Delusions are as various as the reflections of the moon on a rippling sea. Beings become so easily caught in a net of confused pain.
May I develop compassion as boundless as the sky, so that all may rest in the clear light of their awareness."