Tricycle | BuddhaFest Online Film Festival

Tears of the Buddha


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dalic's picture

I enjoyed the film because it made me think a lot about my own emotions. I am going through a stressful time at work, and I feel many "negative" emotions. I work hard at not rejecting them, but accepting them and moving "past" them. I was intrigued with the discussion on hate not being necessarily negative, but how it can be turned into something positive. Of course, "positive" being a relative term. I keep struggling with equanimity. Essentially, try to treat all emotions equally, and keep that peaceful mind that accepts what is happening and lives with it. Thanks for this film, I will continue to think about these topics while I go outside and enjoy the summertime garden activities!

Joel Lesko's picture

You're welcome. I'm glad the film inspired you to think more about this area. Yes, I also found that segment about hate to be very interesting - this was Daniel Barron, the founder of Theohumanity. He said, "hate is when love collides with injustice," and goes on to say that it's the repression of emotion deemed negative that leads to acting out violence individually and also to all the violence in the world.
This is the opposite of what other spiritual teachers say - let anger go, remember you're not the anger, you're the capacity for anger, give it space, don't own it as yours, transcend it, get bigger than it, change it to love... but in my experience, the anger and hate will slip out somewhere. Why? Because in my experience, emotion is more essential than mind. So what if we stop trying to change emotion with mind and give ourselves permission to feel hate, for example, own it, find its source and process it as divine essence, just as essential as joy or sorrow. What would life look like then?
Thanks for your comment. Even after the Tricycle film festival is over, you can continue the conversation with me at This is where you can read more about Tears of the Buddha, rent it, purchase a DVD and send me comments and questions.

katiem's picture

Seems to be that there are so many, "Words". Sometimes things are just what they are and that's what we should pay attention to. If our emotion is so strong, examine it and leave it alone hoping to better deal with it the next time. Just keep staying in the moment hopefully. Why is there so much discussion of what emotion is?

Joel Lesko's picture

When I was editing the film, I found it interesting that the question, "what is emotion," led to a fundamental question about the individual self: real or illusion? I say this because most of the teachers said it's important to remember you're the capacity for strong emotions, but you're not the emotion itself. Also, who's even having the emotion? So this is where spiritual teachings about emotions have impact on daily life, and this is why I made this film! If we're simply the observer of our emotions, how much emotional connection can we have with other people, especially in intimate relationships? Thanks for watching the film and getting involved in the conversation.

ziegenhl's picture

I am not a teacher, an expert, only new to this path. However, my experience with Buddhist teachings are to acknowledge more deeply my emotions, but not cling to them or allow them to define me. I feel I am encourages to take these negative emotions and have them “blow my ego apart” and open me to more compassion for everyone that is experiencing this human path just like I am.

For example, from one of Tricycle's Wisdom Teachings today......
"When we touch something unlovely in ourselves—fear, anger, jealousy, shame, disgust—we tend to withdraw emotionally and direct our attention elsewhere. But denying how we feel, or projecting our fears and faults onto others, only drives a wedge between us and the people we yearn to be close to. —Christopher K. Germer"

I am not sure what the “buddhistic teachings” are that the director keeps referring too, but my journey assures me that the Buddha would have recognized that his followers were suffering—isn’t suffering what motivated him to sit under the Bodhi tree? I feel a tremendous amount of compassion for the director who after 30 years of transcendental meditation (he refers to as TM?) promises to never feel negative emotions made to him by dysfunctional teachers have left him with more suffering. This movie left me with a few questions of my own. Did the Buddha transcend all emotion? Wasn’t he visited by Mara? Didn’t he greet Mara as an “old friend”?
I wish the director peace, contentment and ease.

Joel Lesko's picture

Thanks for watching the film and taking the time to post your thoughts about this important topic. I love that quote - I would also add that it's our denial of what we feel that splits us from our divinity. Every spiritual teacher has something to say about emotions, especially the so-called negative emotions. From transcending to changing, or denying and dismissing.... But what if pure raw emotion is what we are in our soul essence? Rather than non-dual pure consciousness as the root reality? How would our spiritual teachings change, and would we still be looking to a teaching that's 2400 years old?
As I've screened the film around the country, these are the conversations that the film is inspiring. It's deeply rewarding for me, especially since as I was making the film, I was convinced that no one would ever see it! so, thanks for your comments again.

jackelope65's picture

All of our experiences are filtered through the Limbic System( Emotions ) so that we know whether we can ignore them, run for our lives, or consider them deeply at a later time. This system of filtering our experiences through the emotional brain, comes from a time when imminent death could be around each corner, and we had to direct these experiences to the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous systems. They are at the core of survival of the human species that exists today. Of course Emotions depend on energy, recalling that our brains consume 20% of our oxygen intake to perform all of its tasks. We cannot just ignore all of science when discussing experiential phenomena, no more than we can just throw out all spiritual experience.

Joel Lesko's picture

Science gives us a very limited view of human experience. About the same as the old spiritual traditions. That's why for me, this film is so important - to ask new questions and not accept the age-old teachings, or the modern scientific reductionist view. To reduce emotions to an experience in the limbic system, or based on brain chemistry, is such a narrow view of our humanity and our divinity.

Daisymom's picture

The film was as different in opinions as getting various teachers in the same room to tell what they "think" emotions are all about. Who can answer definitively these mysterious questions of human complexity, ultimately love, why things are the way they are. All is guesswork, as we make our way day by day until our death. Hopefully we can add something if value before that time.
I felt the filmmaker himself asked the best questions....and the teachers were all over the place at times in the nebulous answers that define us all as humans guessing...

bdb310's picture

It raised some interesting questions. I thought of it less as a film and more of a series of widely differing thoughts of several teachers on emotions. The title seems out of place as the connection with Buddhism and the Buddha was slight. I would've liked more on that; perhaps that would have tied things together.

Joel Lesko's picture

Thanks for watching the film and for your comments here. As a filmmaker, it's exciting to hear from people who've watched this film.... It took me more than a year to make this film, and there were long periods when I wondered if it would ever find an audience. Quite an honor to have it shown here at tricycle online.
I wish I could've spent more time on connecting things with Buddha. Maybe next film...!

karladiane's picture

Nicely put.

ziegenhl's picture

Were the teachers from Buddhist traditions?
What are "Buddhistic Teachings"?

Joel Lesko's picture

I'm not an expert in Buddhism, but in the context of this film about spirituality and emotions, when I referred to Buddhistic teachings in my on-camera comments, I was talking about a wide range of spiritual dharmas that are based on transcending the personal self as the means to attain enlightenment. Based on my experience, this is a common thread of Buddhistic teachings as they are practiced here in the west. Scholars can certainly argue that it's a narrow or even incorrect view, but I wanted to ask new questions about the effects of transcending on personal life.

karladiane's picture

Hmmmmm - I would love to hear people's thoughts on this film.

Joel Lesko's picture

I'd love to hear your comments.