Oct 23, 2009

Harold & Maude...& Buddhism

by Seleus Blelis

There are a slew of films with Buddhist themes from The Wizard of Oz, Singin' in the Rain, The Matrix and Groundhog Day. But a couple of years ago before I received my Gohonzon, I saw a little film called Harold & Maude (1971).  Let's just say the rest is history. The film took on a significance with me that can only be summed up in two words- Be Happy.

I was studying and asking questions about Nichiren Buddhism at the time and I couldn't get over how Buddhist Maude was. She came into this young man's life for a specific reason, it was no coincidence. Speaking for myself, you see and/or taught that happiness is temporary, fleeting, take it while you can. Suffering is a part of life and happiness is not possible.  Harold's problem and for the majority of people is that we are fundamentally unhappy. As the film unfolds, I couldn't get over how happy Maude was. She displayed an array of human emotions from sadness to joy, but maintained an indestructible spirit. The lessons of life she was teaching wasn't only for Harold but for the audience.

In essence, she was shakabuking us and I recognized this right away. How do you become happy? "Appreciate your life. You are a Buddha. You are the best thing that ever appeared on this whole planet. You are the greatest thing in the whole universe. If you believe that there is nothing you cannot do with your life, then there is nothing you cannot do. To believe that you can do anything is to bring your life into harmony".- (Mr. Sonoda: 2000).

Here are a few examples of Maude's wisdom:


Free yourself from attachments that cause suffering-   
 "Well, if some people are upset because they feel they have a hold on some things, then I'm merely acting as a gentle reminder - I'm sort of breaking it easy. Here today, gone tomorrow, so don't get attached to things."  

Have a positive attitude-  "Greet the dawn with the Breath of Fire!"

Relish every moment of your life-
"Don't play anything! Dear me. Everyone should be able to make some music. Why, it's life! - Rhythm and harmony - That's the cosmic dance. Come with me."

Experience your life-
 "I like to keep a variety. I'm always looking for the new experience, like this one.
something new each day to find it out. After all, we're given life."

Never give up-
"Reach out! Take a chance! Get hurt maybe. But play as well as you can. (she leads a cheer before the stands) Go team, go! Give me an "L." Give me an "I." Give me a "V." Give me an "E.

Embrace your Humanity
"I cry at beauty - a first snow, a rose, a sunset. I cry when a man tortures his brother... when he repents and forgiveness is refused... and when it is granted.  begs forgiveness... when
To cry is to laugh. To laugh is to cry... a uniquely human trait. 
And the main thing in life, my dear Harold, is not to be afraid to be human."


In the Gosho, “Winter Always Turns to Spring”-
"Well, not dying, actually. I'm changing. You know, like from winter to spring.
Of course, it is a big step to take"

(Winter Always Turns into Spring- Nichiren Daishonin wrote the following:
Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, which never fails to turn into spring. Never have I seen or heard of winter turning into autumn. Nor have I ever heard of any believer in the Lotus Sutra who remained a common mortal. A passage from the sutra reads, “Among those who hear of this Law, there is not one who shall not attain Buddhahood.”    (Gosho, p. 832; MW-1, p. 150)
In his explanation, the Daishonin compared the definitive principles of faith with the certainty of the changing of the seasons. Thus, just as winter turns to spring without fail, those who uphold faith in the Lotus Sutra will attain enlightenment without fail, even though they will definitely encounter obstacles.

I will end this post with my favorite scene that sums it all up  


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