Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sisters of Dolma (Film Review)

Just watched Daughters of Dolma. It is a kind of profile of some young female Buddhists. The way women are treated in the society is the way the women are treated as nuns. They have to fight for equal status, they discuss sexism in their society.

What struck me about the movie was that the young woman struggled like young women, forget that they were nuns. They fight and argue, and they like to watch romance movies. Feels almost like a career decision. But it's not even a decision it seems, at times. The eldest son is supposed to be a monk and the youngest daughter is supposed to be a monk. Anandi kept asking, how does that help the society? I got the feeling that a few of the women did not really fit in to regular life, and did not want conventional lives, and so they just chose being a nun as the path of greatest freedom. I could see that.

My experience is different. I came to it middle age. I could really feel the youth of the students, the pull of the world. I'm kind of sick of the world, so it's easy for me to retreat from it. They had their whole lives ahead of them, and they wondered if they were doing the right thing.

They have a culture where this is an option. I suppose it's an option in my culture. America is supposed to be multicultural. But the fact it that it's mostly a Christian nation. So most Buddhists are in some way a non-conformist. I get the feeling that the women were trying to please others, were conforming.

The interviews with older men in power were politically correct. I want them to interview a sexist monk. In fact, if there was a defect in the movie, it felt like with the language barrier, that they were mostly speaking in slogans, saying what they thought people wanted to hear. The movie admitted as much in the end, that it was superficial.

There's a part of increasing nunneries, that is feminist revolutionary. They talked about how the modern world was impacting their traditional ways, and I felt like expanding the nunneries was one way of modernizing. But I also got the feeling that they were kind of like orphanages. I wondered if one mother was projecting her own spiritual wishes onto her daughter. She said her daughter was naughty like a boy so many times, it was kind of weird.

Sometimes I yearn for a culture in which to embed my spiritual practice, and sometimes I think I create my own world in my home, and that it doesn't matter what is outside the home so much, as long as there is stuff in the world somewhere that promotes it. I don't believe in the lay/monastic split, but I see how it functions to carry the tradition and in some ways I am very grateful. In some ways it seems cultural and superficial. The children are learning to read and write in a Buddhist context, but like any kind of education, it's a process that helps one to develop.

I certainly appreciate documentaries in that they present experience, but we also need to critically evaluate what we see. I saw a changing world of young female Buddhists. It's no easy to convey the spiritual life, less so in the movies. There was some interesting footage, and cultural information. I would have liked more geographical information. I would have liked more depth. Even so, it was an interesting movie. There's only one review of it on Netflix. It appreciates their honesty, that they don't try and sugar coat things, but I kind of felt they did. I mean a documentary does present raw experience, in a way, but if you don't think there were filters there, well, that seems naive.

There is another movie about Buddhist nuns: Blessings: Tsoknyi Nangchen Nuns of Tibet.

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