The Land of the Disappearing Buddha

The Land of the Disappearing Buddha

This is the second of the films that I am showing from Ronald Eyre’s 1977 series for the BBC, entitled The Long Search, Man’s Religious Quest. Last week I showed Footprint of the Buddha about Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

By now Eyre has moved on to Japan where the Buddhism – or better Buddhisms – look very different from what he encountered in Lanka, and indeed, whereas the earlier programme provided an excellent summary of early Buddhism, Eyre is more troubled to find anything concrete to present here, which is something to do with the title of the programme also.

The main part of the programme, both at the beginning and the end, looks at forms of Zen Buddhism and is probably the better part of the episode where we see Zen in action as zazen, sword skills, the tea ceremony and in Ko’an instructions.

In the middle there is an introduction to Pure Land Buddhism, with discussions with practitioners and teachers alike, and also a visit to the Soka Gakkai International headquarters, though I am afraid I didn’t learn very much from that, only that they apparently reject the Sakyamuni as a teacher for the present day.

As always Eyre is sympathetic and sensitive, and really seems interested in his subjects, and trying to present a real perspective on the religions he encounters.


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