Tricycle Film Club

Buddhist films and discussion for the
Tricycle Community

Being in the World

A celebration of being human in a technological age

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Welcome to the Tricycle Film Club!

Being in the WorldEach month, Tricycle Supporting and Sustaining Members will be treated to a select feature-length film, presented in partnership with Alive Mind Cinema and BuddhaFest 2012. The benefits of membership continue to grow, so if you're not already a Supporting or Sustaining Member, upgrade now and watch our second film this month, Being in the World: A Celebration of Being Human in a Technological Age. Earlier this month we screened Old Plum Mountain: The Berkeley Zen Center—Life Inside the Gate, and director Ed Herzog led the discussion and spoke to us in an audio interview.

Join the Tricycle Community to be a part of the Tricycle Film Club.

Being in the World (January 17-29)
In this provocative documentary, director Tao Ruspoli raises the question of whether we have forgotten what it means to be truly human in today's technological age, and proceeds to answer this question by taking a journey around the world to meet a whole host of remarkable individuals, all standouts in the their fields. By showing how these modern-day masters—a chef, a juggler, a carpenter and a flamenco singer—approach life from within their chosen fields, Ruspoli's film celebrates the ability of human beings to find meaning in the world through the mastery of physical, intellectual, and creative skills.

Read more about Being in the World here. Watch an interview with director Tao Ruspoli below.

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Jonathan.s's picture

I sang Hubert Dreyfus' praises on philosophy forums for a long while, but it fell on deaf ears. Philosophy nowadays is sadly mainly about 'analytical thinking', which is reducing problems to something computable. There is little interest in 'being in the world' in academic philosophy proper - outside of California, anyway. So, I like the ideas in this film, but I wouldn't call it 'philosophy', at least not as it is currently understood.

parker.tracey's picture

Is it still possible to watch the film on this site? I missed it last month.

katecrisp's picture

Brilliant...going to buy this one and watch several more times...thanks for posting Phil!

andreag's picture

a great film on mindfulness!

szavov's picture

I like this film; however the title was a bit misleading. As someone has already mentioned here, this is a movie about philosophy and about how Heidegger overturned the Platonic-Cartesian core of western philosophy. More precisely what Dreyfus’s interpretation on Heidegger has to do with everyday happiness which occurs when we lose ourselves in our activity. I missed only I thing: calling this happiness on its name – FLOW...and mentioning Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s work who coined this term. Anyway, thank you Tricycle!

szavov's picture

I like this film; however the title was a bit misleading. As someone has already mentioned here, this is a movie about philosophy and about how Heidegger overturned the Platonic-Cartesian core of western philosophy. More precisely what Dreyfus’s interpretation on Heidegger has to do with everyday happiness which occurs when we lose ourselves in our activity. I missed only I thing: calling this happiness on its name – FLOW...and mentioning Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s work who coined this term. Anyway, thank you Tricycle!'s picture

Thank you Tricycle. Thank you Tao. Thank you to this online community. In merely two days of joining tricycle online my practice has received a jump start. It's been like an AED. While watching the film, I was reminded repeatedly of Ajahn Geoff's (aka Thanissaro Bhikku) book The Paradox of Becoming. In the Paradox of Becoming, the main idea is that our desires create both identities and worlds. I use the mnemonic DWI to remember this. So, a painter, miner and skier each see the mountain differently. For each of them the mountain is a different world. I also think of that Sufi saying: When a thief sees a saint all he sees is the saint's pockets. This idea is the same as the one expressed in the film, namely that our skills disclose (to use Heidegger's term) different worlds to us while simultaneously bringing us into being. We do this all the time. Even the identity of being a human being in the material world is based upon skill and desire.

In my opinion, the supreme skill (and one that's perfect for us average Joe's) is right concentration/meditation/bhavana/zazen/whatever you wanna call it. In order to understand the process of developing skill in general and right concentration as a skill in particular, as an adult, I've consciously developed skill in squash and foreign languages. Let me tell you, these are easier skills to learn than right concentration. I've experienced a very visceral high/buzz from translating for an hour or two. I begin to understand the text I'm translating more rapidly even if there is the same frequency of words that I don't know as when I began translating at the beginning of the hour, I start to feel the energy center in my throat activate pretty intensely and I get a whole body awareness. It typically takes about an hour of sustained translation to experience this. I've also experienced this just from listening to people talk for an extended period of time. Sometimes this can happen just from sitting still while riding the train.

primespiral's picture

Thank you, thank you. This has had the effect of illuminating the fibers of my being, burrowing through to the illusive unconscious mind, as if in a dream, flowing with this moment by moment safari into this minute. I am touched by this. As often as I remember the the truth is this moment unfolding, I live this.
So grateful, So grateful. Svaha.

glg222's picture

Brilliant! Thank you film makers, thank you beautiful, intelligent beings who were in the film. I am more awake now. I am more appreciative now. Touched and alive!!

Listen's picture

I just want to say thank you so much for including this film in the fest. My wife and I enjoyed it dearly, and we're surprised that it didn't have a wider release. Very well produced, great selection of people being interviewed, and a fascinating (and important) topic. (As usual for me, it's a lucky coincidence that it happens to touch upon much of what I've been reading lately.) Thanks again, and keep them coming!

ddmatta's picture

Great movie! I enjoyed every bit of it. I still do not understand though why it is contrasted with the classical views of Plato and Descartes. Can't we consider those great philosophers as masters, chefs and jugglers of the mind exhibiting high intellectual skills just like others who exhibit physical and artistic skills?

jao118's picture

I watched the film and very much enjoyed it. It deepened my understanding of what it means to live in this world for today. I will carry it with me for awhile. Thank you to the philosophers for helping us remember and understand.

sclay's picture

I haven't watched this film yet, but the concept fascinates me! "Being in the World: A Celebration of Being [Hu] MAN in a Technological Age," however, should be retitled to reflect that it’s really about MEN being in the world, as the artists, academics and theorists presented here are men, with the sole female exception, Leah Chase, COOKING! Can this be the case after all these years of consciousness raising?'s picture

There was another woman in the film-the woman who was juggling at the beginning of each section.'s picture

There was another woman in the film-the woman who was juggling at the beginning of each section.

Michael Jaquish's picture


Zoozyq's picture

Thank you for connecting me with this wonderful film! As is my usual practice with such things, I did not pause it, but let the flow carry me along, absorbing the mood and noticing my own intuitive responses that allowed me to join the flow. As is also my practice, I will watch it again for the additional awareness and understanding that layers into my initial response...and it is likely that I will watch it a third time, as well, for even more depth of insight. I took note of the fact that technology was not condemned, but rather was put in its place...obviously, without the technological advances we could not have seen this film. ;-) As others have mentioned, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's books are also good sources of reflection on flow and creativity. I add a recommendation of BUDDHA STANDARD TIME: AWAKENING TO THE INFINITE POSSIBILITIES OF NOW by Surya Das, which includes some exercises that may be additionally helpful.

kschwarz's picture

This movie was FANTASTIC!! I really enjoyed the way the history and the knowledge of philosophy was explained and then depicted so as to explain the relevance to our lives.

What I enjoyed, in particular, was that the importance of being in touch with life, living it directly, was demonstrated outside the usual and conventional ways. For those of us who have been practicing meditation for years, it is really refreshing to see that there are other people out there who are refining themselves and their crafts and are moving people because of what they have done.

Bravo!!! (Or should I say "Olay!!")

Kurt Schwarz
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada's picture

A fascinating discussion and film that feels like an invitation to a greater engagement with the world, with a skill, with developing focus. I have noticed that my own capacity for focus increases with motivation, and then of course the motivation grows as I cultivate interest by learning more about what I am focused on, as well as on the process itself.

As in meditation. I have struggled with focus in my meditations. As I learn to "care" more about meditation, my interest creates more presence, more involvement, more motivation, and ultimately, a deeper engagement.

So I am trying to "stay awake" to my meditations through various means at hand, such as
varying them, brain entrainment recordings. I know this is a bit off the topic, but for me it is
where the rubber hits the road.

When I am more completely in the activity I engage in, it opens up. I engage fully with all my faculties. They are invited in. A richness unfolds when mysteriously, I am suddenly outside myself, or in contact with something bigger. It is as if whatever "membrane" of awareness that
is in contact with the situation/world/project...I am focused on becomes huge, more sensitive to nuances, subtleties, and becomes more dimensional as well. It just happens, it seems,
spontaneously. However, all the prerequisites have been set up. Flow just happens by itself at that point.

I wish I could pronounce Mr. Mihaly C.'s name. He is one of my heroes. I have tried to follow his advice. So maybe I will learn it. I will start with spelling it: Csikzentmihalyi. I have always believed that learning new words expands the mind. I have been stumbling over his name for a long time. Now that I have said his name out loud several times there is a little feeling of mastery.

Just kidding, not entirely though.

jackelope65's picture

The movie gives great dignity to all people, such as my brother Richard, a carpenter, who even as a child was gifted in skills required in his trade,, despite his lack of traditionally admired scholastic abilities. He could never be demeaned in my view, though we were raised in a society that would value a physician, my profession, more than those whom, with great skill, created the structures in which we live. He made the slingshots, fishing rods, bows and arrows, canoes with which he helped to create the very fabric our childhood. Although he eventually built multi-million yachts with seamless cabinetry, the industry prized the materials, especially teak and carbon fiber, more than the tradesman who actually built the boats. A study of the tuberculosis epidemic demonstrates that its root cause was the industrial revolution where the value of things, such as the machines and their products, were more important than the people who suffered and died working on them. The resolution of tuberculosis had dramatically more to do with focusing on how man interacted with the world, with the creation of housing and work conditions by people who cared and those who physically created the infrastructure, than by the development of tuberculosis treatment by physicians whose role was almost unimportant in that outbreak. In a world stagnating in efficiency, Buddhism directs us back to the very moment we are in. And, yes, I loved the movie.

yohan_girault's picture

Very interesting! I'm just wondering why Tao Ruspoli didn't say anything about the Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's flow theory. For me, this film shows all about it: relationships between focusing in a particular activity and happiness. As Wiki says:

In his seminal work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csíkszentmihályi outlines his theory that people are most happy when they are in a state of flow— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter (Csikszentmihalyi,1990). The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove. The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored.

In an interview with Wired magazine, Csíkszentmihályi described flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."

To achieve a flow state, a balance must be struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performer. If the task is too easy or too difficult, flow cannot occur. Both skill level and challenge level must be matched and high; if skill and challenge are low and matched, then apathy results.

The flow state also implies a kind of focused attention, and indeed, it has been noted that mindfulness, meditation, yoga, the Alexander Technique, and martial arts seem to improve a person's capacity for flow. Among other benefits, all of these activities train and improve attention.

In short, flow could be described as a state where attention, motivation, and the situation meet, resulting in a kind of productive harmony or feedback.

micko's picture

aka "Be Here Now"

BodhiBum's picture

A wonderful exploration of how we can turn our western cultural perspective of self-ishness in alternate directions, if we choose to do so. That being-with is more authentic, and a more creative and compassionate way of living in the world. While self-being has lead us down the cold road of cut-throat capitalism (where being rich equals superiority, morally and culturally) along with the conflict being-between that is needed to sustain the goal of becoming the winner. Thich Nhat Hahn's "inter-being" (dependent origination) may share more with Heiegger's dasein than one might first think.
Thank you for such a thoughtful and thought provoking film.'s picture

I think Heidegger invites us to find that which we can uniquely give the world, not being the best at any "thing" but being the best most authentic unique self, not to mastery in the eyes of the world but that's what it would be to be like no other in our own unique way.

Kathryn123's picture

Brilliance!! I think the most important parts in this film pertained to the fact that everyone has their own skills to share, you and me, average and ordinary everyday brilliance. I think that a big part of the message was to follow your bliss which leads to mastery. Parts of this film made me cry, as a musician, poet and artist I was deeply moved. It was so great to hear these things put into words, I've experienced much of what was talked about, even as an average Joe myself, and it was so lovely to hear that others have had similar experiences.

Zdamask's picture

It sounds like a fascinating movie, but, unfortunately, because there is no captioning, I and others, who for various reasons depend on it, can not participate and benefit from this film series (or the videos used in
all of your workshops). Very frustrating! Are there any plans to add captioning to your offerings? I end up feeling as if I'm standing at the window, looking into the room and trying to make out what's going on inside. . . .

Philip Ryan's picture

Thank you for the comment. At this point, we do not have plans to caption our videos. The video above, of course, is a film not produced by tricycle, but we have discussed this for our retreats.

Zdamask's picture

Thank you for your response. It would be wonderful if you could start providing captioning for the retreat videos. Another option, which would be equally appreciated, would be simply to provide a full transcript.

Raja Hornstein's picture

I was motivated to respond to the film by Travis' comment: "It's one thing for someone with great skills but the tricky part is for average Joe's like me." Let me begin by saying how much I enjoyed the beauty of this movie, especially by the scenes with Manuel Molina and the "olé" "allah" cries of his friends. Let's not forget that this is a movie about philosophy and about how Heidegger overturned the Platonic-Cartesian core of western philosophy.There are two starkly missing stories here. First, Buddhism and other non-Western ways of being never got mired in the Platonic tradition and have had thousands of years to develop a level of understanding about mastery, engagement with the natural world, and spiritual awareness that isn't even hinted at by Heidegger. Second, Heidegger had a deeply troubling connection to the Nazi party. As Adam Kirsch wrote in the New York Times: "once we acknowledge the powerful attraction of [Heidegger's] work, we are morally and intellectually bound to explore what part of that attraction is owed to ideas with a potential for evil...[we must] confront not just Heideg­ger but ourselves." Buddhism addresses itself totally to the question of mastery for "average Joe's like me," while Heidegger's work encourages us, and the movie dutifully follows, to look at the mastery of the special one, the hero, the übermensch, and even the führer. Their mastery is astonishing and beautiful and captivating, but ultimately it has nothing to do with deeply more fascinating and important question of the mastery of ordinary life. Buddhism has some answers. Before you seek out Heidegger's "Being and Time," I suggest you read Ehei Dogen's "The Time Being" written seven hundred years earlier.

worthmoremusic's picture

thought provoking.... will definitely view this again ! Thank you Tricycle & Tao Ruspoli . _/\_

MarkG's picture

Yes! This is the first thought and word that comes to me as I shift to writing this comment. There was so much here and it all felt "directly correct" (if that phrase makes sense to anyone else). Like travis.wedge who commented on Jan 16, I too had to stop multiple times. It wasn't solely that the film had a lot of information. I felt that I was having to bit, chew, swallow, reflect.

I was touched by Elizabeth Gilbert's story of the supposed transformation of Allah to Ole. And I loved Dryfus' statement which I will paraphrase: "In mastery we lose ourselves into absorption and the distinction between the master and the world disappears." Yes! Thank you Tao Ruspoli for creating a very sweet and thoughtful film. And, great going Tricycle, you've hit it with two excellent first films.

TW77's picture

That was incredibly interresting...I had to pause it often to allow it to absorb. I'll have to watch it again. The key to this stuff is applying it to your life. It's one thing for someone with great skills but the tricky part is for average Joe's like me ;) I like the analogy of our minds being like a radio tunning into to different stations.