July 07, 2008

Buddhism, from peerless caves to the silver screen

The New York Times has a lengthy article on Mogaoku, the "peerless caves" in Dunhuang, China. Decorated with devotional paintings and sculptures dating back to the fifth century, the caves are rapidly deteriorating due to increased tourism as well as the natural ravages of time. Writer Holland Cotter muses,

The question of access versus preservation is a poignant one and is by no means confined to Mogaoku. It applies to many fragile monuments. What are we willing to give up to keep what we have? If you’re a Buddhist — I am not — you know that the material world is a phantom or a dream, “a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp,” as the Buddha puts it in the Diamond Sutra.

The Times also has an article on "Fire Under the Snow," an upcoming documentary on the life of Tibetan Buddhist monk Palden Gyatso, who was a political prisoner in China for 33 years. The film, by Makoto Sasa, will be shown in New York from August 8 to 14 and in Los Angeles from August 22 to 28--coinciding with the Olympic Games in Beijing.

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