The Four Noble Truths (1996). Video (VHS)
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In his first sermon at Deer Park, the historical Buddha spoke of the Four Noble Truths of sentient existence:
1. The existence of suffering, or dukkha
2. The cause of suffering (karma)
3. The cessation of suffering
4. The Path that leads to the cessation of suffering
This set of four videos collects a series of lectures on the Four Noble Truths given by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama in 1997 in England. The lectures were a landmark event, bringing together for the first time in the West a nonsectarian Buddhist and lay audience for over six hours of emotional and intellectually challenging engagement with these central teachings of the Buddhist canon. The impressive intellect and scholarship of His Holiness is everywhere evident in these tapes as he traverses the expansive body of Buddhist scriptures and commentaries. One also catches glimpses of his mischievous sense of humor and, of course, his inspiring compassion.
Besides offering a thorough exposition of Mahayana belief, and indeed practice, with an anything but common traversal of the Four Noble Truths by a master, in these four videos one is invited to spend a few intimate hours in the presence of the Dalai Lama, always an ennobling experience. The camera work in this film is especially fine, making of the camera one's own eyes, as it were, and lifting the hours even lighter than they already seem. With respect to another of the reviews on this page, I found the necessary translation from the stage handled superbly, and clearly with a great deal of thought and natural reverence. In Thubten Jimpa, the Dalai Lama employs a beautifully adept translator, an interpreter not only brilliantly attuned to the words and thoughts of the Dalai Lama, but one so obviously loved by him, and who responds with a special kind of faithfulness, that a marvelous duet is often played out, only enhancing thereby this great teacher's magisterial presentation. I would add that one feels as well the 'Englishness' of the audience, so eager to quietly offer their accepting energy, so ready to listen, far more so than might be a gathering of Americans usually so conscious of themselves in the moment. The humor that ripples often between the Dalai Lama and his listeners throughout the evening is so generous and unaffected, one is returned again and again to the meaning behind the words, the experience behind the event. This is a film of the highest achievment, fortunately within the reach of us all. An unforgettable few hours!