Who deserves credit for Kung Fu Panda 2 and the rest of our life?!


Po’s father

I went to Kung Fu Panda 2 3D yesterday with my father. (He insisted!! Or perhaps that was me?!) Either way, it was even better than I thought it would be – both entertaining and inspirational. I will write an article on it soonish but, before I do, I want to start at the end. Which is also the beginning…

Remembering the kindness of others

At the end of the movie, the closing credits rolled for many minutes; page after page of people who were responsible for writing, directing, producing, filming, editing, designing, composing, visual effects, animating, modeling, supervising, engineering, and all round awesomeness!!

Thousands of people were kind enough to bring this one and a half hour movie into creation for our enjoyment. We may even notice and acknowledge a few of them, e.g. Jack Black and Angelina Jolie🙂 But though I decided this time to stay to the very end, everyone else in the auditorium had left long before the credits finished rolling.

Thousands of people are also involved in bringing an hour and a half of our regular life into creation too – in fact we are dependent upon the kindness of thousands of people at any given moment. We may even notice a few of them, at least every now and then, and if they are obvious enough!

People left the cinema the moment the action stopped most likely because where the action actually came from didn’t seem sufficiently relevant to them, and besides they had things to do and their own lives to get on with. In a similar way, in our busy lives, in our personal worlds, with our own individual priorities and conceptual thoughts, it is rare to acknowledge everyone who has been involved one way or another in giving us literally everything we need to live moment by moment. Our self-grasping ignorance is in fact telling us that we are independent and don’t depend that much on others, that we are somehow self-made, that our world revolves around us as the main protagonist with everyone else being a bit player.

Take this moment. Perhaps you feel that you are moreorless alone in it, reading this – you’re not bothering anyone and likewise no one is bothering you. We’re all somehow separate. But if we look carefully we see that we are never alone and that every breath, every thought, every cell comes entirely from others.

You are looking at this on a screen on some magical electronic gadget, which in itself is the result of the imagination and work of many thousands of people; and the infrastructure that supported them involved many more people. You are able to read this because people taught you to read and because you have eyes that depend on your parents and on all the food and medicines you’ve taken throughout your life to keep you alive. I’ll assume you’re wearing clothes, which if you check the labels you will see come from people all over the world and the families who support them. And so on, ad infinitum.

Even our ability to contribute depends on the kindness of many others. For example, our education, our money, our skills, our job, our audience, our supporters and our responsibilities only exist due to the kindness, generosity and willingness of others. When we find ourself in a responsible or exalted position, it is easy to develop a pride thinking that we are rather special and higher up because others depend upon us, not the other way round. But the fact is that the more we are in a position to contribute, the more we depend upon them, even as the objects of our contribution, and therefore the more cause for humility we have. If they were to withdraw their support, our infrastructure would crumble and we would be nothing. So we might as well get off the fragile pedestal constructed by our pride and join everyone else on level ground. (It’s more fun down here anyway😉

It is rare to be grateful for more than a fraction of the kindness we have received from others. The kindness of others is not new information – it becomes obvious as soon as we take anything more than a superficial egotistical glance at the apparently solid uncaused infrastructure of our lives! There is a meditation in Buddhism called remembering the kindness of others. We only need to remember something if we’ve forgotten it in the first place. You can learn this meditation in Modern Buddhism, now available completely free, no strings attached, as an e-Book due to the kindness of the author and, one way or another, the actions of thousands of other people past and present:

We are able to make use of many things with very little effort on our own part. If we consider facilities such as roads, cars, trains, airplanes, ships, houses, restaurants, hotels, libraries, hospitals, shops, money and so on, it is clear that many people worked very hard to provide these things. Even though we make little or no  contribution towards the provision of these facilities, they are all available for us to use. This shows the great kindness of others. Both our general education and our spiritual training are provided by others. (p 67 ff)

If we had a closing credit for each moment of our lives, it’d be at least as impossible to keep up with reading all the names as it was in Kung Fu Panda.

The Kadampa Temple for World Peace, Sarasota, Florida

The other day I attended the Florida New Kadampa Tradition temple opening. For nine years I was very much involved at that center, during which time the temple project was started and much money was raised. The Je Tsongkhapa statues were imported, painted and filled, and the five lineages of Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden created from scratch by talented artists at Manjushri KMC, and dedicated from the start to KMC Florida. I and many others prayed every day for a long time for this temple to arise.

Young Jin No (foreground)

However I have been living elsewhere for the past three years, during which time the temple was constructed under the expert building direction of Young Jin No, an old student who had previously built another center in Florida. She showed me around, no detail too small to rejoice in.

offerings of light

The temple is magnificent. There is no doubt that the modern day Kadampa master Geshe Kelsang has given the Sunshine State the most outrageously wonderful gift. And thousands of man and woman hours have also gone into it. It depends entirely upon millions of causes created both in this life and no doubt in previous lives – take any one of those causes away and this particular temple would not exist. Apart from making prayers and rejoicing, I myself have been out of it for the past three years, during which time new people have become involved who don’t know me from Adam. This is true of a number of people who were previously entirely instrumental in the temple even in this life, not to mention previous lives! But although only a few people may now recognize our contribution, I realized during the opening ceremony that not one of the causes we created was lost. And that even if there had been a closing credit of us and everyone else who has ever helped bring this temple into existence, no one would have been much interested anyway – for how interested are we really in the people who built our house, made our roads, taught us at school, and so on?! Isn’t that ancient history?! Are we not mainly just interested in how we can personally use these things now, in the present?!

From my own side, it has always seemed a bit pointless seeking praise or reputation, or being upset and demoralized when I am ignored, misunderstood or criticized. I have found it far more constructive and rewarding to concern myself with developing positive states of mind and good karmic intentions. Being attached to praise and reputation are so-called “worldly concerns” that do nothing to help us overcome our pride and self-cherishing, which is why the great Kadampa mind-training master Atisha famously declared in his Advice:

“Words of praise and fame serve only to beguile us, therefore blow them away as you would blow your nose.”

(BTW, have you ever noticed how Geshe Kelsang blows his nose during the long-life prayer done for him at festivals?!)

On the other hand, remembering and acknowledging what others have done and do for us right down to the cellular level is a supremely powerful method for breaking us out of our own little worlds by seeing how dependent on others we actually are. Other people are, in fact, not bit players but the main protagonists in our life, deserving at least equal billing! This wisdom understanding interdependence gives us humility, gratitude and loving-kindness, and the wish to repay their kindness. It makes us happy and peaceful.

So me and dad stayed right to the end of Kung Fu Panda 2 and I mentally thanked everyone whose names were appearing on the screen — right down to the technical resource tester and post-production office supervisor — for the enjoyment they had given us! Moreover, though there was no visible screen of rolling credits at KMC Florida, I felt grateful the whole weekend I was there; and as a result I had a blast!

There is nothing to stop me or you from remembering the kindness of others every day, every moment, of our lives. Your comments, including how you do this meditation, are very welcome. And please share this article if you like it.

Comments

  1. I did similar after watching the Lord of the Rings on DVDs; it is amazing when you reflect on the numbers of people involved in these productions. I knew there would be many on the credits but was still astonished to see just how many brought this classic story of JRR Tolkien’s to life on the screen in front me and family. To use this example and bounce off it; yes it is very humbling to grasp somewhat from this just how many beings are involved in our very progress through life: Everybody! I try my best to wake with thoughts like these, the kindness of all our mothers, and hope/strive to stay grateful each moment of the day.This can make every day joyful, if you can stay focused on this, or let it at least stay as the over-all background in your mind upon which our daily duties are triggered then carried out. Thanks for sharing Luna. Brilliant post as usual.

  2. Wonderful article Luna! It made me smile when I read that you sit through the credits and mentally thank each person that worked on the film. I do this too🙂 It’s just my small way of giving gratitude for all the hard work that the crew put into making such fine films.
    In my children’s workshops tomorrow, I’m planning to guide the children in a ‘remembering the kindness of others’ meditation, followed by some fun activities involving Kung Fu Panda😉 Perfect timing that I came across your article that combines both subjects🙂
    p.s. The Florida temples looks stunning! Hopefully I’ll get to visit it one day!

  3. Great article again Luna. When you think about it, the chain of kindness goes on and on, into the mists of time, and still continues when one’s thoughts are on something else, very inspiring! Love, Paul

  4. i understand so many more things having read this. Thank you Luna🙂

  5. Donna says:

    I love this! I have been playing around with imaging a time lapse camera on everything, see everything coming into creation and all involved. I just got back from the movies with my son and made him sit through the entire credits to thank everyone after reading this post.

  6. I find your articles so easy to read, always positive and inspiring. Thank you for all the time you spend thinking about us and thinking of ways to bring a little (or a lot) of light into our lives.

  7. Luna i loved this article, i went yesterday to see the movie (coincidence?) and i stay to know who where the voices in Spanish. So i had to see all the loonnnggg list of the names before the Mexican names appeared and i thought… how many people is involved on one movie…! and guess what..? i never felt grateful …as you see i was in a “me,me” mind.. and your article got directly to the point…we need to remember the kindness of others every day, every moment, of our lives❤

  8. Angelina Jolie :-)? Absolutely!

  9. Dear Luna,

    I so enjoy reading your posts.

    This one was especially dear to me as I took my 87 year old mother to see King Fu Panda 2. We both thoroughly enjoyed it, and I found it completely inspirational.

    This past weekend, I was one of several teachers during a kids camp at KMC NY. During the weekend I was both humbled and inspired by the interdependence that I felt was pervasive throughout the weekend among the kids, parents and teachers. Like you, I was very grateful of that perspective and as a result had a blast.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

  10. Luna Dearest – I love every word of this article (as I do, all of your writings). Can’t wait to see Kung Fu Panda 2 (saw 1 twice)! btw-was Buddha’s name on the credits list? He is on mine.

    Long lasting love,

    Mal

  11. thanks – I look forward to these inspiring and practical eye-openers, and share this column with others.

Trackbacks

  1. […] began the meditation by thinking about Luna Kadampa’s recent article on the kindness of others. I thought about the list of credits from movies these days, and all the […]

I'd love to hear from you...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: