This fascinating documentary directed by Mark Elliott follows the life and experiences of a Tibetan Buddhist boy from age four through eighteen. The child is recognized as the reincarnation (Yangsi) of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, a revered meditation master from Tibet who escaped the Chinese occupation, settled down in Bhutan and Nepal, and passed away in 1991; at 18 the young man is expected to assume the responsibilities of a spiritual leader of his tradition. With great respect for Tibetan Buddhism, the director has fashioned a lyrical and accessible glimpse into what he calls "a coming of age story set between two worlds." The narration in English by the Yangsi adds intimacy and poignancy to his compelling spiritual journey.
The opening sequences revolve around the very cute little boy about to leave his mother, father, and older brother to enter the care of Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, a disciple of Dilgo Khyentse Ripoche whom His Holiness the Dalai Lama regarded as one of his major spiritual teachers. The Yangsi (the one who has come again into existence) is a playful and spunky child who has a smile that lights up the room.
His parents express their mixed feelings of joy and sadness as they bid goodbye to their son. Thousands of colorfully dressed and elated Tibetan Buddhists (monks and laypersons) and patrons from all over the world gather to celebrate the boy's impressive enthronement ceremony. His eyes are wide with wonder as he tries to take in the energy of the people, the place, and the attention. He also reveals his playful spirit as he flirts with the crowd.
The next step for his mentor, surrogate parent and friend is to orchestrate the Yangsi's education. The growing boy describes himself as a bit of a joker and having a stubborn streak. But he does strive to please his teachers. The rich traditions of Tibetan Buddhism offer him plenty of resources to serve as antidotes to any excesses he encounters along the path of his development. We see his enjoyment of basketball, his delight in his best friend, and his mastery of traditional monastic study. The Yangsi is also fortunate in learning English and much about the West from an American teacher.
As he reaches maturity, this reincarnation of the Tibetan lama is required to travel and to teach. We see the Yangsi's tour through Europe and North America where his messages and meditations are very brief and simple. At one point, speaking to a audience packed with young people, he wonders why his teachers chose this "weird young boy" to carry on the legacy of one of the great Tibetan masters of the twentieth century.
Robert Thurman, a prolific author and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, salutes the evolution in Tibet of an inner revolution consisting of nonviolence, optimism, concern for the individual, and unconditional love. Arising from the bodhisattva spirit incarnated by Tibetan monk scholars and lamas, he envisions a society of enlightened beings who are supreme artists of life and agents of compassion. After watching this documentary, we're convinced that Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche will rise to the challenge of bringing these important teachings to a new generation of young people around the world who are seeking peace and happiness.
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