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Vajra Sky showing at the IDP, Friday night

Jerry Kolber can't do his usual Wed. a.m. post here today, but I'm happy to report on an upcoming IDP event:

As someone curious about Buddhism's Asian roots and imagery, I'm psyched to see John will be at the IDP on Friday night, speaking at a special showing of his film VAJRA SKY OVER TIBET: JOURNEY INTO AN ENDANGERED WORLD.

photo courtesy John Bush/Direct Pictures

I've seen and reviewed this film before, for This Week in New York, twi-ny.com, and I'm happy to see it getting a wider audience with every showing. In this film, the third in his Yatra trilogy, producer/director Bush completes the pilgrimage that previously took him to Southeast Asia in Prajna Earth and Dharma River, all films that showcase Buddhism's Asian roots and still-vibrant expression in the cultures of Laos, Thailand, and Burma (Dharma River) and Cambodia, Java, and Bali (Prajna Earth), and finally Tibet in Vajra Sky.

This deeply felt and beautifully photographed film examines the history of the Tibetan people, focusing on their long-standing relationship with China. In 1959, the fourteenth Dalai Lama was forced into exile, finding safe haven in India. Although many Tibetans escaped with him, many stayed behind, where they practice their faith under the sharp watch of the Chinese government, which would like to name their own Dalai Lama in time.  Bush, a Western Buddhist himself, gained remarkable access to some of Vajrayana Buddhism’s holiest palaces and sites of worship, including Jokhang Temple in Llasa, the Potala, and the Norbulinka. Bush winds his way through the Drepung Festival, in a fascinating piece of footage, traveling with a Tibetan guide whose name he can’t share because of possible reprisals.

Bush narrates much of the film, along with Tenzin L Choegyal, the nephew of the current Dalai Lama, and Dadon, a popular Tibetan singer. The meditative score is by David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir, supplemented with devotional music by Dadon and other Himalayan musicians. Personally endorsed by the Dalai Lama, Vajra Sky is an illuminating look into a fascinating culture that is rapidly disappearing. “Tibetan civilization,” writes the Dalai Lama as the film begins, “forms a distinct part of the world’s precious common heritage. Humanity would be the poorer if it were to be lost.” For nearly ninety minutes, with beautiful cinematography, captivating music, and gorgeous settings, Bush, who will speak about the movie and answer questions at the IDP screening Friday night, takes you deep inside a world not soon forgotten.

Buddhism in the 21st century in the USA manifests very differently from the Buddhism in Tibet that produces Thangka Festival in Drepung that Bush shows us. But one would not exist without the other, and I love to celebreate the interdependence that gives rise both to the giant thangka in Drepung and the video cameras of John Bush. This movie is a manifestation of both, and I'm eager to hear what manifests in the audience at the IDP on Friday - come, be a part of it!

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Looking Forward

I can't wait to see this film.   After getting a lot more into the Shambhala and Vajrayana teachings lately, I'm looking forward to sinking a bit deeper into the Tibetan story.

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