The Impressionable Faces of Buddhist Silence
Trent Gilliss, online editor

Matthieu Ricard’s journey to the Himalayas and studying under some of the great Tibetan Buddhist monks and the current Dalai Lama was inspired by the films of Arnaud Desjardins.

What struck him and became the catalyst for his lifelong journey […] was a particular point in one of these documentaries when he saw “a series of faces, of contemplatives … in silence” — of all shapes and sizes.

“I wanted to see those faces.”

The video above is excerpted from the 1966 film, Le Message des Tibétains: Le Tantrisme (deuxième partie). For the quick skinny on the portrait sequence Ricard mentions, skip to 5:45 in the clip.

Ricard describes the influence of Desjardins’s films in greater depth in The Monk and the Philosopher, a dialogue between him and his father, Jean-François Revel, a French intellectual who is well-known for his challenging critiques of Communism and Christianity:

"I had the impression of seeing living beings who were the very image of what they taught. They had such a striking and remarkable feeling about them. I couldn’t quite hit on the explicit reasons why, but what struck me most was that they matched the ideal of sainthood, the perfect being, the sage — a kind of person hardly to be found nowadays in the West. It was the image I had of St. Francis of Assisi, or the great wise men of ancient times, but which for me had become figures of the distant past. You can’t go meet Socrates, listen to Plato debating, or sit at St. Francis’ feet. Yet suddenly, here were beings who seemed to be living examples of wisdom. I said to myself, ‘If it’s possible to reach perfection as a human being, that must be it."

—from beingblog & reblogged from sharanam.

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