January 11, 2012

Richard Gere to receive prestigious George Eastman Award

Richard GereActor/activist Richard Gere, who recently made headlines by calling China "the largest hypocrisy in the world" has been tapped to receive the prestigious George Eastman Award. He will attend a ceremony to receive the award on February 16th in Rochester, New York. (Gere hails from nearby Syracuse.) The award is given out for "distinguished contribution to the art of film." Tickets to the event (which are a bit pricey) go on sale January 17th. The giver of the award, George Eastman House itself is a magnificent museum celebrating photography and film in a beautiful historic building. (Rochester preserved many more of its stately homes than is typical for American cities, and the Eastman House, and the Rochester Zen Center, described below, are located in this district that gives a glimpse at the city's past grandeur.)

There are lots of potential dharma activities for the world's most famous Buddhist actor while in the Flower City: Rochester is something of a dharma hotbed, home to the eminent Rochester Zen Center, one of the first Buddhist practice centers in the country and sometimes called the "boot camp of American Zen." RZC was founded by Roshi Philip Kapleau and is headed by our current Tricycle Retreat leader, Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede.

Rochester is also home to several other dharma centers, such as the White Lotus Buddhist Center, the Amitabha Foundation, the Dharma Refuge (headed by Tricycle contributor Anam Thubten,) and a chapter of Dharma Punx, currently on hiatus.

Congratulations to Mr. Gere, the rare example of a celebrity who stands up and speaks out for causes that are usually ignored by the popular culture of which he is a part. Read the Tricycle interview with Mr. Gere, "Everything's About the Heart," here.

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Marys's picture

Congratulations to Mr. Gere! I have enjoyed his films for many years and appreciate his beautiful, evocative photography, but it was a few days after 9/11 when he really grabbed my heart. Within days of 9/11 there were benefit shows being aired on TV to generate financial support for those affected by the attack. There were many celebrities and popular musicians taking part; at one point Richard came out in between sets of music and he began to share his thoughts on the attack and what had happened. I remember him saying we needed to have compassion for everyone involved, not just the firefighters and the all the workers in the buildings and their families, but even the families of those who flew the planes. Mr. Gere was intimating that the US was being given an opportunity to take another stance besides retaliation; and you know what, he was booed by the audience! But I sat there watching and listening thinking, finally, someone saying what I've been feeling. I thought, way to go Richard...it took courage and true heart to say that to a nation that was looking for someone to blame, someone to bomb, someone to kill. I continue to have deep respect for his willingness to put his heart and beliefs out there regardless of what anyone says.