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www.LAyogamagazine.com                                                                                                          February 2008

Review – “Dalai Lama Renaissance”

(a documentary by Khashyar Darvich)

 By Amy Wong

LA Yoga magazine - February 2008


When speaking about the work of director Darvich, the venerated Tibetan leader gave high praise: “I like your questions… very good. Certainly, your efforts can make some sort of contribution, there’s no doubt.” Renaissance, narrated by Harrison Ford, fulfilled these seemingly prophetic words, winning numerous awards while touring the film festival circuit.

Renaissance documents the 1999 Synthesis Conference held in Dharamsala (the residence of the exiled monk), where 40 of the world’s most prominent thinkers assembled for a week to dialogue about how to solve our planet’s problems. Some participants had especially visible roles in Renaissance, including Your Money of Your Life author Vicki Robbin; prominent quantum physicists and What the Bleep alums Fred Alan Wolf and Amit Goswami; and the nonviolence-promoting interfaith bridge-builder Brother Wayne Teasdale, the whom the film is dedicated (he passed away in 2004).

The Synthesis participants are some of the most intellectual, spiritual and noted people on Earth. Even they displayed misbehaving egos; chaos and dissent ensued even though the setting was the Dalai Lama’s spiritual home. The manner in which Darvich captured the group’s breakdowns, as well as the humorous and skillful way the Synthesis organizers handled them, is a major strength of the film.

“It is a stunning tour-de-force”

Another Renaissance highlight is, of course, the intimate glimpse into the Dalai Lama’s life in India, set to an uplifting soundtrack: it is a stunning tour-de-force of Himalayan scenery, prayer wheels, monkeys, monks of all ages and even candid poverty.

Throughout the imagery and stories, it was refreshing to see everyone’s humanity. But fitting, since the Dalai Lama, who often refers to himself as just a simple monk, is quoted in the film as saying “we’re all equal here.” This monk gave a spell-binding and ego-shaking closing conference and film speech in which he reminded the participants that putting all of humanity first and working towards their own inner peace is the only true answer to solving any problem. His sentiments were echoed in a quote from Leo Tolstoy, read by narrator Ford: “Everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.”




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