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The Zen Mind

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In the last fifty years the culture of Zen has spread far beyond Japan. Zen centers and zen retreats have sprung up throughout America and Europe.  When Dogen, the founder of Soto Zen, brought Zen to Japan from China 800 years ago, it quickly took root and became an integral part of Japanese life. Yet what do we know about zen practice in Japan today? The Zen Mind is a fascinating journey across Japan to explore zen in its natural habitat.

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A travelogue across the breadth of Japan to explore the practice of modern day zen. We will take you from the bustle of rush-hour Tokyo to the tranquil mountains of Kyoto. From zen centers hidden among city skyscrapers to the zendo in a remote monastery. With unrestricted access, we will take you into a world outsiders rarely see or hear about. It is a world where material wealth is exchanged for spiritual wealth. Where the mind is trained and conditioned like an olympic athlete.

Zen training is explored in The Zen MInd through the practice of zazen or sitting meditation and kinhin (walking meditation). With interviews, demonstrations of sitting and actual practice, we take the lid off the many misconceptions that abound in zen meditation. While the cloistered lifestyle of the zen monk is in decline in Japan, zen meditation is spreading rapidly in the west. Typical of this modern approach to dharma practice is the Dogen sangha, a zen center in Tokyo where commuters stop on their way home for zen meditation. It is a complete contrast to the remote mountain monasteries where formal buddhist rituals are zelously maintained. This contrast heightens as we enter Japan’s largest Soto zen monastery and join the monks in their everyday workplace, cooking and cleaning. Before and after their work is done they will sit in zazen. We will take you into the zendo or meditation hall and like a fly on the zendo wall, witness the monks as they begin what will be many hours of zazen and sometimes through the night. Only the abrupt crack of the roshi’s stick on the monks shoulder breaks the silence as he summons them to focus, flushing out any thoughts… erasing self-doubt and ego… clearing a path to self-realization.

The Zen Mind soundtrack is by Christopher Yohmei, a grandmaster of the shakuhachi flute.

Director

Jon Braeley

Run time

60 minutes

Language

Japanese with English subtitles

Featuring

Major Zen Monasteries of Kyoto and Soji Zen Monastery

Formats

DVD (plus shipping), Download HD 720P, Download SD 480P

File size

0.7Gb (480P), 1.3Gb (720P)

Writer-director Jon Braeley looks at the essence of traditional Japanese Zen in the beautifully produced coffee-table-book equivalent, The Zen Mind. Braeley captures the intimate discipline of meditation, inc. Kekkafuza, Chosoku and the use of the Kyosaku (stick). It offers a tantalizing glimpse of Zen. Highly recommended.

Video Librarian Magazine. 06.06. 2006

Yesterday I received The Empty Mind and The Zen Mind. Extraordinary films. Congratulations and looking forward for other work (although I will not be tired with these films for a while).

Timothy Begijn, Belgium. 08.06.2007

A thoughful, in-depth documentary. Beautiful shakuhachi music, visits to major Zen locations, interviews with masters. An excellent tour through Japanese Zen. I am very pleased with this DVD.

Adrian Bain, UK. 05.27.2007

What a pleasure to view a documentary on Buddhism that is concise, accurate and artful on many different levels. The word “Zen” has been co-opted in English to represent many things that it is not. “The Zen Mind” is a true depiction of the practice of Zen in modern day Japan, both by monastics, clergy and laity. A very fine film, with very fine shakuhachi (flute) music and narration. Highly recommended.

Edward Gerster, USA. 10.22.2012.

I very much liked this film because it shows how Zen is practiced in Japan from the traditional temple setting of Soji-ji, to the maze of office towers in downtown Tokyo. Zen can fit any and every setting and situation – it’s endlessly adaptable to real life. Several abbots and monks are interviewed from both Rinzai and Soto Zen and contain the same teachings on how to live one’s life right now.

S. T. Munro, Canada. 12.23.2011.

Absolutely amazing and wondefully shot after watching it I was truthfully extremely relaxed and ready to take on more stress from my every day life. I can not recommend this film enough. It showcases the most beautiful temples in Kyoto and brought back many fond memories. Braeley did a first class job and I take my hat of to him.

Don Warrner, Los Angeles, USA. 09.27.2007.

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