Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Reincarnation [2011]

MPAA (NR)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing -

My Reincarnation (directed by Jennifer Fox) is documentary which has followed 20 years of the life of Yeshi Silvano Namkai (from his mid 20s to his mid 40s today).  Yeshi was born in Italy some 40-45 years ago to Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, an exiled Tibetan Buddhist master, and Choogyal's Italian wife.  A few years after Yeshi was born, Choogyal was informed by various Tibetan Buddhist practitioners from "the old country" that they believed that Yeshi could be reincarnation of Chogyal's uncle who had been a well known Buddhist monk prior to his death at the hands of Chinese Communist authorities in the late 1950s-early 1960s.  Making note of this news, and informing his son of it at a relatively early age, Chogyal nevertheless had taken a perhaps typically Buddhist approach to the matter, one of detachment -- if this were true, that his son Yeshi really was the reincarnation of his uncle then it would inevitably manifest itself in some way, if not, then ... it won't.  Fascinating!

Particularly interesting during the course of the film were Yeshi's evolving feelings toward his father, who at the beginning of the film (when Yeshi was being interviewed in his mid 20s) Yeshi clearly resented for being "detached" and largely away from his family, as well as Yeshi's evolving feelings toward predictions regarding his destiny, which at the beginning of the film (again when Yeshi was being interviewed in his mid-20s) Yeshi did not particularly take seriously.  Yes, he knew what had been said about him -- that he was the reincarnation of his great-uncle -- but at the time of the beginning of the documentary (20 years ago) like most people his age, Yeshi was far more interested in getting married and getting a job (he found one working as a sales-rep/technician for IBM in Italy ;-).

However as the years went on in the documentary and he had gotten married and had kids of his own, Yeshi seemed to become more and more convinced that there may be something to the destiny that those Tibetan Buddhist practitioner friends of his father's had said that he was called to.  He described rather vivid and specific dremas that he was having regarding his uncle's life and fate at the hands of the Chinese communists.  At the end of the film, Yeshi does return (if for a visit) to Tibet as the religious figure that he seemed to be predestined to from birth.  Angain, fascinating!

Now I know that a fair number of Christians and even Catholics would be disturbed by a movie like this.  However, at least with regards to the Catholics, I would remind all, that the Catholic Church does see itself as a universal church, secure in its faith, and therefore capable of dialoging with respect with everybody.  The Second Vatican Council's declaration on non-Christian religions indeed said as much.

I personally have found it very easy to admire and respect the Buddhist religions which are generally presented peacefully and without great rancor.  And I also note the famous saying of Zen Buddhist master, D.T. Suzuki of the early 20th century, that Buddhism may focus "more on the Kitchen than the Cook" but that does not mean that it denies the Cook.  It simply means that Buddhism chooses not to focus on the Cook.  Focusing on the Cook is simply left to others, like us Christians and Catholics ;-).

And yes, over the last several generations we Cathoics and Christians too have come to appreciate more the beauty and value of the Cook's kitchen ;-).  Yes, if we choose, we can all come to live together with respect and in peace.

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