Little Buddha (1993)
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci.
Starring: Keanu Reeves (Prince Siddhartha), Ying Ruocheng (Lama Norbu), Chris Isaak (Dean Conrad), Bridget Fonda (Lisa Conrad), Alex Weisendanger (Jesse Conrad), Raju Lai (Raju), Greishma Makar Singh (Gita), Sogyal Rinpoche (Kenpo Tenzin), Khyongia Rato Rinpoche (Abbot), Geshe Tsultim Gyelsen (Lama Dorje), Jo Champa (Maria), Jigme Kunsang (Champa), Thubtem Jampa (Punzo), Surehka Sikri (Sonali), T.K. Lama (Sangay), Doma Tshomo (Ani-La), Mantu Lal (Mantu), Mountain Yogi (Himself), Rinzin Dakpa (Oracle), Rudraprasad Sengupta (King Suddhodhana), Kanika Pandey (Queen Maya).
search for the next Dalai Lama
Since the 1959 occupation of Tibet by the Chinese, the Tibetans have been living in Nepal, Bhutan and India.
Lama Norbu receives a message. He says that he has been waiting for the message for 9 years.
Tibetan monks leave their monastery in Bhutan in search of the reincarnation of the recently deceased high lama. They travel to Seattle and try to convince the parents of young Jesse that their son may be the lama.
They want to take the boy to Nepal. And they hope the parents will also come. The father rejects the idea saying that taking a child without the permission of the parents is kidnapping.
Jesse then starts to learn of the great Siddhartha.
Siddhartha "he who brings good" was born in Nepal to a king. A mystical hermit comes to the king and tells him that Siddhartha will be a great king.
He travels to Seattle to hear of the possible finding of the reincarnation of Lama Dorje (Lama Thunderbolt in English). They believe this to be Jesse, son of an engineer.
Growing up, he mastered many military skills. He married Yashodara. His dad gave him three palaces in the hope of sheltering him from all pain.
The young prince sees something he never saw before: very poor men, old beggars. He follows after the beggars to learn more. He learns about pain: old age, sickness, death, all the ugly things his father tried to protect him from. But, more importantly, he learned compassion for others. He confronts his father saying: "Father your love has become a prison. I must find an answer to suffering."
He goes on a long journey of awakening, looking for freedom. Meets ascetics who search for enlightenment. But it is they who become his disciples.
Back in Seattle, the father has a change of heart and decides to go with Jesse to Bhutan for two weeks. "If we meditate the right way, we can all reach Enlightenment."
Siddhartha has an epiphany and realizes that he has been on the wrong path. He abandons his ascetic ways and eats proper food. The ascetics think he has given up his search for enlightenment. In vain, Siddhartha tries to tell them that there is a middle way between the extremes. He would teach this truth of the middle way.
Back to Jesse, the boy and his father reach Katmandu, Nepal. He meets the other child candidate for the position. And then the two candidates learn of a third candidate, just recently found. She is the girl, Gita.
The three are given more instruction. Siddhartha survives various temptations and becomes enlightened. From then on he was called the Buddha, "the enlightened one."
Will Jesse be picked as the true reincarnation of Lama Dorje? Or will he be sent back to Seattle?
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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