Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Dharma-documentaries: Burmese practice


Sketch of an Excellent Man, Pa Auk Sayadaw

Sketch of an Excellent Man
When I started this site I already had it in mind to include videos from the three major traditions of Buddhism, and thereby keep it open, as all traditions have undergone changes from the original teaching, particularly through the influence of the commentaries (in the Theravāda tradition), and the new scriptures and commentaries (in the Mahayāna and Tibetan traditions).
I have always regretted however not being able to include more documentaries from the Theravāda. This is not from wanting of trying, but simply because they aren’t available, and while the Tibetans, for instance, have literally scores of good documentaries about their tradition, the Theravādins have only a handful, at least in English.
Today we have a newly published documentary on the Pa Auk Sayadaw by Setti Wessels, that is well made, and gives in detail information about his life and teachings, with good illustrations to help bring the latter to life. The film features clips taken from as far back as 1995, and includes materials up to the 2014 Kathina celebrations.
The film not only documents the Sayadaw’s life and teachings, but also the way these are implemented in the various monasteries that Sayadaw has built around the world. At the heart of the film are illustrated talks given by Sayadaw in English to Korean students, in which he discusses some of his most characterstic teaching about the Abhidahmma.
The film alternates between giving a biogrpahy of the Sayadaw, looking at the strict schedule at the Pa Auk Tawya monasteries, and recordings of the Sayadaw’s teachings, and at nearly two hours in one of the most complete documents of its subject available. Note that the film maker Setti Wessels has longer exceprts of the teachings and other material on his youtube channel.

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