I recently saw the film Walk With Me, about the Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. At first there was something slightly surreal about tucking into my chocolate ice cream, and Hubby with a glass of vino, settling back comfortably to be a voyeur on the simple Zen life. But life is a paradox, so I simply let this thought entertain me a while and then let it go. Because really this gentle voyeurism was so wonderful. An armchair meditation. The cinema was packed (and we were almost the youngest in the audience, weirdly) but you could have heard a pin drop for the full 90 minutes. I think we were all spellbound. It felt as though everyone was holding their breath slightly — though there were also some very funny places where we laughed out loud in a spontaneous appreciation of the absurdity of our modern lives and the knowing juxtapositions the film drew between American consumerism and monastic sensibilities, when the monks were ‘on tour’ in the States.
I was pleased that Hubby in the end came with me. Buddhist monks are not his thing, he’d never heard of TNH before, he is deeply suspicious of spirituality or religion, and mindfulness practices make him really anxious (another paradox, for another day). And yet he chose to come with me anyway. I think he must love me! 🙂
He only looked at his watch once during the film! And he came out looking thoughtful and we had a really sincere conversation as we walked home through the late night drizzle: about the accumulation of material things and the value (or not) of that, about inner riches, sources of contentment and how to nurture those, about now vs future. My head was full of words from my new vocabulary: aparigraha, dravinam, satyam, mauna, sangha. But Hubby’s simple expressions were the best as he reflected on some small shifts in attitude he saw possible in his own life and how they might contribute to his own sense of contentment — and (most touchingly) how they might also contribute to mine. I think that’s worth the cinema ticket and a walk in the rain.