Our Life is like our Breath

Our Life is like our Breath

This is a very fine film by Hartwig Rohrmann from 1996 tracing the life of a western monk in Wat Pa Nanachat, the monastery Ajahn Chah founded for his western disciples; at that time Ajahn Pasanno was the Abbot, so it is before his founding of Abhayagiri in California, and it is not long after the passing of Ajahn Chah.

The film revolves around a fictitious monk from Europe, Phra Nyanadharo (who seems to be played by Phra Kemaradho), and his life in the monastery, and also on location at Dtao Dum near the River Kwai, where Ajahn Pasanno had been invited to set up a new monastery.

The film is interspersed with Nyanadharo’s own thoughts on the Buddhist teaching, and also includes extensive quotations form Ajahn Chah’s teachings, and reflections on the interplay between monks and lay people who support them.

Although the character of Phra Nyanadharo is made up, he nevertheless does seem to truly reflect many of the western monks in that tradition, and the film is a very good mix of personal reflection and teaching about Buddhist ideas and practices.


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