Yesterday I watched 'The Buddha' videos on PBS. Please check The Buddha, Compassion and tell me if I'm too fuzzy when I find this particular part contra productive for the right presentation to a great audience and the understanding of what Buddhism should be and how monastics should behave. At 04:00 around the Buddha is quoted: "I can give the teaching in brief or I can teach in detail, it is those who understand are hard to find" while a Bhikkhu (improperly dressed for being in public) is cutting down a living branch of a tree. Right after the sentence and the sequence is finished a Bhikkhuni is pulling out grass and digging soil. (I do not mention the 10 precept nuns here because they don’t actually break rules, it’s just my personal opinion it is not good if they do dig and cut plants)
Showing how monastics are breaking their Patimokkha rules during this quote made me think instantly: “Yes, not even monks and nuns do understand. What a shame.”
Was that the intended message of this sequence? Not that these actions without the quote would be any better …
Rules are broken, I know - but I really doubt if it is helpful for Buddhism and those who try to establish Buddhism in the west and try to keep the rules, to show how they are broken in a movie about Buddhism that claims to transport the original message of the Buddha supported by famous people like Richard Geer and the Dalai Lama.
Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis especially from Theravada traditions are not supposed to cut, pull out or break grass or branches or any living plant, are not allowed to dig soil, should wear our robes properly when in public.
How many people will see this movie?
How can we get through to them to let them know: “Yes. There are monks and nuns and many people who do not understand the teaching of the Lord Buddha and hence rules are broken but - with your understanding, knowledge and support as lay peron and our honest, humble and diligent effort as monastics we could try to make them understand.”?
P.S.: Maybe I should add - The film is very nice and worth seeing and I’m sorry that I will not be able to watch it on the 7th.