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Dalai Lama film reveals more than what is on the surface

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Courtesy photo
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ASPEN, Colorado ” “Everyone has a way of making the world a little bit better,” said director Khashyar Darvich.

He was right in the middle of describing his film.

In 1999, the Dalai Lama invited 40 of Western civilization’s top minds to meet in India. The idea was to have them talk and find solutions for global issues. It’s no surprise that the reality was a touch more complicated than it sounds.



And Darvich was there to capture it all on film.

His “Dalai Lama Renaissance” is 81 minutes of power struggles, flaring egos ” and complete love. This little experiment, it turns out, was a success, but not in the way the participants had predicted.



“Everyone who went on the trip, in the beginning, had the expectation that the group was going to get together, and as a group they were going to solve the world’s problems,” explained Darvich.

But instead of happy, breakthrough “synthesizing,” they argued. Instead of coming up with answers, the more they talked (in various roundtable and group settings), the more questions they had. The discussion scenes with this insanely bright crowd are at once hilarious and sobering, and at first Darvich wasn’t sure whether he wanted to show the full reality of them. The more the experience went on, however, the more it became clear that perhaps it had been the Dalai Lama’s intention from the start.

“He foresaw there would be some conflict, some ego trouble,” said Darvich. “But that was necessary so that all that ego could fall away and inner transformation could happen.”

Throughout the movie, His Holiness seems to be the only one in on the plan. All the participants speak about their feelings with a bite of seriousness, but he’s the one laughing as he voices his opinions. While the others are venerating him, he’s calling himself just a “simple monk.”

“My first impression was that here’s a person whose natural quality is an ease of compassion,” Darvich explained. “He fills the room with the feeling of compassion. You can actually feel it. It’s tangible. You can’t help but have that sort of impact you.”

And impact these people it did. While, at the end of the film, it doesn’t feel like any grand, global transformations have take place, the seeds of change have obviously been sowed. By the time the Westerners are saying goodbye to the Dalai Lama, they seem grounded and humbled. Perhaps they do have some answers for their own selves. Though this might be “giving away” the ending, in a sense it doesn’t matter.

It’s witnessing the journey ” not seeing the outcome ” that packs the film’s emotional wallop.

“Each of them left India and went back home with this renewed sense of purpose, with this greater open heart. They went out, and in their books and their talks, they’ve impacted millions in a positive way,” said Darvich.

For participant Fred Alan Wolf, it meant getting involved in the spiritually inclined, mind-bending movies “What the #$*! Do We (K)now!?” and “The Secret.” For Thom Hartmann, it meant taking over for Al Franken at the progressive Air America Radio Network. For Darvich, it meant making this movie.

“After screenings of the film, when people come up to me and say that they were really moved by the film, you know, it inspired them or touched them in some deep way, that’s the most satisfying thing I could ever want,” he said.

Where else could sweeping, positive change begin, if not in individuals?

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

ssieg@postindependent.com


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