Dec 07, 1994 00:53 AM
by OSMAR DE CARVALHO
KP> What did you think about the movie?
I appreciated the film a lot!
KP> After seeing Bernardo Bertoluci's film, "The Little Buddha",
I wondered what Buddhists and theosophists thought about it. For
myself I was pleasently surprised at the freewheeling retelling
of the historical or mythic-historical life of Gautauma Buddha
also know as Siddharta.
Bertolucci's picture is a great evangelical buddhist film,
and I was overwhelmed with its delighting details. One of
my serious pastime is doing film interpretation from both
"physiological" and theosophical point of views.
KP> The film is a glorious spectacle. The past is all in golds
and reds of a warm fire and the present is in cold blues as if
photographed through an ice cube. Some have complained that the
present day search yield not THE buddha but a buddha. I thought
this was the strength not the weakness of the film for it point
to the possibility that we are all Buddha, we just have woke up
yet to who we really are.
The screenplay did a very good transposition from the buddha
myth to our day experiences, maintaining the mythic message.
In the buddha gospel his father is a warrior, representing
the physical aspect, and his mother meaning the "manasic"
principle. The Sidharta prince stands for the budhic or
spiritual consciousness. Few days after Sidharta is born
his mother dies, which means the death or decreasing of the
manas aspect. The family as a whole stands for the complex
system of subtle bodies we have to evolve.
In Bertolucci's transposition to our day, once more he show
us a family where the "little buddha", reincarnation of a
Lama, has an architect father (physical, builder of the
forms) with a math teacher (manas) as his mother. His house
is placed above one hill, having a landscape to the sea
waters (astral). In Sidharta history, the buddha is jailed
in his fathers "castles". Sidharta marries with a beautiful
lady (astral), which means his first contacts with reality.
In the modern history, the little buddha is cared by a
servant called "Maria", another allusion to his contacts
with the lower dimensions.
The color details are very important too. The "blue" of the
modern days part represents the "manas" aspect. The
"golden" of the Buddha history stands for the spiritual
myth. The boy history is a current reincarnation one, the
Buddha history indicates the descending powers of our
spirit. The analogy principle is applied in its fullness
One scene I loved, from a symbolic point of view, was that
when we see the boy and his mom in the bathroom of his
Seattle house. The mother (manas) "reads" the Buddha gospel
history (knowledge) meanwhile the boy stands in the bathtub.
In a given moment the little buddha says "Mom... Bye!" and
dives in the water (astral). To me, this scene means that
mind must to "awaken" the buddhic principle, and his first
contact will be no with the analytic dimension of our
beings, the "reality slayer", but with our emotions and
In the decisive moments, like the Sidharta history, the
little Buddha is cared by his father (the physical
personality), not by his mother (manas). The father don't
believes in the reincarnation principle, and spends his time
in the physical existence. At the end, a crisis leads the
father to bet in his son spirituality, traveling to the
distant monastery with the helping of the monks. To me this
stands for the retrieving of the world affairs, to the
practice of meditation and self-observation that leads to
the reality of our beings.
KP> The three children represent three different reincarnating
aspect of the buddha, body mind and emotions. The fact that one
of them is a girl is a real hoot! Who would ever guess a girl, or
a white male for that fact, could be the Buddha (I'm being
sarcastic, of course).
This point annoyed me very much. I don't understood it at
once, and my theosophical background were unable to tell me
what hell was that reincarnation in three distinct bodies.
The days passed by, and I arrived the conclusion the history
was very coherent from the symbolic perspective. The lower
manasic, emotional and the physical aspects of our beings
are really three distinct entities, and yet the literal
characters of the film was very shocking, in the symbolic
level things worked very well. The little Buddha's
"initiation", and remembering of his past life, was such a
kind of a "coordination" of its aspects; to gather the
separated elements of itself in the "monastery" (a spiritual
life), really were all he ought to accomplish.
Many others interpretations could be done from other points
of view, and I would like to hear the yours.
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