Films about journeys obviously qualify as examples of the spiritual practice of questing. The protagonist is usually looking for meaning, fulfillment, absolution, or wholeness. Adventure movies where the protagonist ventures into the unknown, confronts difficulties, and returns home with new understandings also illustrate this spiritual practice. So do films that focus on individuals who refuse to accept easy answers and are always asking questions.


Reverence, the way of radical respect, recognizes that the sacred is in, with, and under the entire Creation. As Confucius says in The Book of Rites, "Always and in everything let there be reverence." Films that give us a glimpse of the complexity and variety of the natural world of animals, plants, stones, lands, and seas encourage this practice. So do movies in which people recognize the awesomeness of others and of their own spiritual natures.


If you are honest with yourself, you will be brought face-to-face with some of the dark and disagreeable parts of yourself at the movies. This is your shadow you'd rather not face — the selfish, violent, angry, hateful, lustful, whiney, and indifferent sides of yourself. But as St. Francis of Assisi once advised, you have to "love the leper inside." Certain films can be very helpful here. They put before you projections of both your own shadow and such collective shadows as racism, corruption, crime, and war. If you don't turn away from these images, they can help you name your demons, learn from them, and work through them.


Putting silence with film seems to create an oxymoron. After all, we don't go to the movies to hear nothing coming out of the projector. Still, there are moments of silence in movies, often used for dramatic effect. Perhaps the best way to find silence at the movies is to practice it yourself. Make being quiet in the theatre, or at home when you are watching a video, one of your disciplines. See this time as an oasis of silence where you can be away from the phone, distracting noises, and speaking. In your quiet listening, savor the silences in the film — especially the pregnant pauses in the conversations between people. When the movie is over, maintain your silence for a while to allow the film to sink into your heart.

Page 7: Teachers - Wonder

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