Three leading figures in today’s Buddhist-Christian dialogue share their personal journeys in the new documentary Jesus and Buddha: Practicing Across Traditions. We learn how following the path of the Buddha has informed and deepened their understanding of who Jesus was and what He taught. Their experience and insight bring these two liberating archetypes alive in a way that can help guide us through our own confusion and struggle toward lives filled with joy and gratitude, compassion and service.
The film features: Father Robert Kennedy, a Jesuit priest and Zen teacher; Chung Hyun Kyung, Professor of Ecumenical Theology and Interfaith Engagement at Union Theological Seminary and a Buddhist Dharma teacher; and Paul Knitter, Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture at Union Theological Seminary.
During the course of the film, we see that the struggles and anxieties that motivate them are our own. What’s more, their reflections throw the light back on us. We can better see the prison of our ceaseless preoccupations, our obsessions, our animosities. Perhaps our own notions of the spiritual path have been limited by our need for answers and our desire for comfort.
In the end it becomes clear from these witnesses that this is not a journey that depends on concepts and abstractions — and definitive answers are beyond our grasp. The journey is rather one of “practice” and insight. The path these travelers are pointing out to us is infinitely spacious and ultimately fulfilling — it can hold all of the contradictions and the questions as it leads further and deeper into the “incomprehensible mystery” that is this life.
Maybe we don’t need to enter a monastery or go to the desert, but some form of discipline appears to be necessary if we are to move beyond the self as the center of identity and into the liberating vastness of the “Buddha-field” or the nourishing wholeness of the “Christ-reality.”
Jesus and Buddha is 44 minutes long, and available on DVD for purchase by individuals for private viewing ($19.95) and for educational use ($55.95). A discussion guide is also available.
Featured in Jesus and Buddha
• Father Robert Kennedy, SJ is a Jesuit priest and Zen teacher in the White Plum lineage. He taught theology for many years at St. Peter’s College in New Jersey and as a young man studied with Yamada Roshi in Kamakura, Japan, with Maezumi Roshi in Los Angeles, and later with Glassman Roshi in New York. Glassman Roshi installed Fr. Kennedy as sensei in 1991 and conferred Inka (his final seal of approval) in 1997, making him a roshi (master).
• Chung Hyun Kyung is Professor of Ecumenical Theology and Interfaith Engagement at Union Theological Seminary and a Buddhist Dharma teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen. She trained with Seung Sahn Sunim and Thich Nhat Hanh. She is a peace activist and an author of many articles and books on eco-feminist theologies and peoples’ movements, all based on her extensive research in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
• Paul Knitter is Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture at Union Theological Seminary and has for many years been a guiding light in the development of a socially engaged interfaith dialogue that focuses both on peace making and on addressing “the realities of suffering due to oppression.” He is author of many books, including most recently, Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian: A Personal Journey of Passing Over and Passing Back.
Feedback from Viewers
Every Buddhist center in the country should see this.” — Richard Fiske, Shambhala Mediation Center, White River Junction, VT
“I felt very affirmed as a Roman Catholic.” — Kathy Fiske, Artist
“It was a sensual feast for eyes, ears, and mind, and a privilege to be in the company of such wonderful teachers.”–Denise Lyons, PhD., Organizational Psychologist
“Beautifully photographed and edited. And listening to them was like listening to music!” Joyce Dann, poet
“I found it to be profoundly moving and very powerful, listening on one level and experiencing on a deeper level.” — Michael Stoner, Former Director of Communications of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University
“As someone interested in theology, I could have listened to them go on for hours. For me something new emerged and that is that you can be both a Christian and a Buddhist. I think there is a deep need for this. This is really a film about social justice.” — the Rev. Daniel Jantos, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church, Woodstock, VT
Jesus and Buddha was co-directed by the award-winning filmmaking team John Ankele and Anne Macksoud, through their company Old Dog Documentaries. Their mission is to create films that inspire dialogue and action on social, economic, and environmental justice.
John Ankele, B.A., M.Div., started out as Program Director for the NYC Council of Churches, doing public affairs programs for WABC radio, WNBC-TV, and WCBS-TV. He then spent six years teaching at the Communications Center of the All-Africa Conference of Churches in Nairobi, Kenya. Back in the U.S., he developed curriculum videos for schools and institutions and promotional videos for nonprofit organizations.
Anne Macksoud, B.A., M.A., spent 17 years as a teacher (English, photography, and music) before transitioning to film and video production. Once she discovered the “eye-opening” power of the documentary medium, she brought rented documentaries into her classroom on a regular basis. Eventually, she began helping her students make their own films and slide shows on the issues of the day (civil rights, the Vietnam War, and global poverty, to name a few). She approaches filmmaking from the perspective of an artist as well as an educator.
For More Information
For more information about Jesus and Buddha or to request a review copy, visit: http://www.olddogdocumentaries.org, email Angela Alston at angela atmocamedia.tv or call +1-718-407-0670.