Daughters of Wisdom
directed by Bari Pearlman
This film captures life in the Kala Rongo Monastery for nuns in the mountains of Tibet. The film shows daily life and is marked by a strict Buddhist wisdom that permeates every scene. These are exceedingly devout women who spend their time either praying, chanting or working. There is a tremendous amount of work to do and it keeps the nuns busy year around. They are joyful, radiant, and flourish without any of the niceties found in the materialist world. Their philosophy follows the Buddhist line: avoid desire and therefore avoid suffering. There is quite a bit of talk as to how women suffer more than men just by their very natures.
The film introduces the audience to a number of nuns who have lived in the monastery for a range of years. They are jovial and filled with a beaming sort of life rarely experienced in our sickly, degenerate modern world. Itâ??s a real and lasting testament to the possibilities that can be achieved through Buddhist teachings and a resignation and separation from the world and all its temptations. The fundamental feeling one comes out of this film with is that of having stepped into another world where the same rules do not apply. Watching the nuns heard yacks, make butter, built their new retreat center, etc. one is struck with how regulated their movements are. They know just how to economize their movements in order to get the most out of their actions without unduly taxing themselves.
Itâ??s interesting to view a film about women whose sexuality is so hidden, but not to the point that it is entirely absent. Although all the signs of typical femininity are removed (tight binding clothing, heads shaved, no jewelry other than religious tokens) it necessarily creeps in when the women are busy doing other things to fulfill their duty for the day. Certain gestures, eye movements betray the measures to denounce the feminine and to instill a hardened, masculine structure to their lives. These women attend a college in which they study all the tenets of Buddhist philosophy in order to strengthen their Karma and to learn how to most effectively honor the teachings of the great masters.
Each life in this film is demonstrated to be united to a singular essence which is the fundamentals of the Buddhist approach to life and all living things. Several times throughout the film teachings of Buddha are shown on a black screen. Simple wisdoms that help to inform the essential course these women have traveled on to get to this point. There is strength in their numbers and a sense of protection and safety that allows them to exist almost like children in a perpetual state of wonder and gaiety. The totality of their existence is well controlled and it is this structure that seems to prevent large breakouts of mental illness and forms of physical disease that plague urban areas everywhere. Although the film doesnâ??t show any nuns who might be suffering from mental illness, it appears that there is no allowance for such afflictions in this codified environment. Their lives are structured, organized, and purposeful. They know what they are going to do from day to day and are virtually free of anxiety. This film clearly suggests that such a lifestyle, if you can even call it that, is much healthier both mentally and physically that the contemporary one enjoyed by both city dwellers across the globe.
Overall, this is an extraordinary introduction into the lives of women committed to live lives that do not require nearly as much maintenance as those in Urban areas throughout the world. There choice is to work on not wanting anything whatsoever for themselves and to strive to become perfectly content with simply their Buddhist mantras and the simple existence they are able to eke out for themselves from their work. The music in this film is mostly chants and songs performed by the women in the Monastery. It has a haunting, uplifting quality that underlines the severity of the life that is lead by these women. The work looks long and difficult and one gets the impression upon finishing this film that there is simply no end to it. Itâ??s part of the process of getting over personal desire; somehow it breaks a person of their tendency to seek out those measures that are most convenient. In this film, these nuns are depicted as living free of the debris that plagues mankind who choose to live in cities. This allows them to fully engage in meditation and prayer which is most certainly most effective in creating lasting change throughout the universe. These women are praying and chanting for the world and it is their clarity of vision that allows this most awesome and necessary act to reach beyond the simply life of mere man to something greater and far vaster.