The Happiness of Art


“Vara – A Blessing” A Film by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinoche

This past weekend I had the honor of watching the première of Khyentse Rinpoche’s Film – Vara and it was indeed “ a blessing” on so many levels.
I believe the first blessing that I received from the film was in the beautiful form of a tantric teaching about the union of devotional love and human love and the healing power of true love.
The second blessing I received was in the form of a challenge to an irrational belief that is prevalent in Bhutan and I believe is truly hurting the development of the film industry.
The myth goes something like this: “the Bhutanese audience will only go to see films that follow the Bollywood song and dance formula.  If you do not add songs and dances then you will not make money.” I find this motivation to create in the very challenging medium of film making difficult to comprehend. The medium of film has the power to entertains, inform, inspire and used at its fullest potential it has the power to enlighten. A great film achieves all of these aims with mastery. But to master the art of film making to achieve these aims takes great dedication, aspiration and hard work.
Vara has dances woven into the story. The story is about the sacred dance. And although there was dancing in the film, even Bollywood dancing the only “formula” that I found in Rinpoches movie was the in form of good storytelling.
Film making is the form or skillful means used to communicate wisdom. Without the wisdom even the best-made movie with the biggest budget and most talent actors does not move us. But also, without proper form even the most profound concept will not touch our heart and truly change us.
Throughout history humanity has developed various art forms to communicate wisdom for the greater good of humanity. First through the visual arts, sacred ritual drama’s, cave paintings, body paintings, religious paintings, music, dance and then the written word, sutras, poetry, scripture all to communicate mans relation to the divine. This was all known as “spiritual art”.
Over time art evolved into an expression we call secular or contemporary art, which explores mans relationship with his Self and his self in relation to the world around him.
In Varda – the great blessing was the skillful way Rinpoche returned us to the sacred through the secular. Where he seamlessly married outrageousness and elegance, means and wisdom, the contemporary art of film making and the poetry, elegance and wisdom of the sutras.
The blessing I received through experiencing Varda was the opportunity to return to my divine nature through the vehicle of my human nature.
Aristotle puts forward in The Poetics, that drama should act as a catharsis, where the human psyche can find an aspect of themselves in the character and take the journey with that character to return to wholeness, to return to “at oneness” with our essential nature. Human and divine in union, dharmakaya,  a non-dualistic experience of the union of all things united by the divine healing power of love.
Vardo will be screening this weekend at City Mall in Thimphu. I encourage you all to witness the true power of film making and the profound blessing this art form can transmit. I hope it will inspire all the filmmakers to follow their heart and commit to mastering this powerful medium to share the wisdom that is within their heart. Encourage the artists and filmmakers in your community for their difficult quest and you will find yourself blessed more and more as you visit the movie theaters.

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