Waking up 2050: Will we ever see true happiness in the future?

Waking up 2050: Will we ever see true happiness in the future?

TLDR: How would a conversation about Buddhism from three different perspectives (a Professor of Asian religions, a Zen monk and a Tibetan nun) turn out to be? Will we wake up in 2050 seeing true happiness?

*NOTE: This contains Spoiler for the film Waking up 2050*

In a world where technology and materialism often take centre stage, the quest for true happiness becomes even more elusive. Waking Up 2050 is a thought-provoking documentary that takes us on a journey to explore a common understanding of Buddhism from varied angles and its relevance in our ever-changing world. 

Directed by Ray Choo, this film offers diverse perspectives from individuals living with Buddha’s teaching or learning and teaching it (Ani Pema Deki, Kodo Nishimura, and Prof. Daniel Veidlinger) shedding light on the profound teachings of Buddhism and its potential impact on our lives.

The documentary seems like separate interviews merged into a film without the questions asked out loud, an interesting structure as the viewers could still understand what the interviewees are referring to. The futuristic visuals serve as an additional anchor for contemplation with the presence of the director is cleverly noted in narrations throughout the film, gently steering the topics for the viewers. 

Futurist Scene from Waking up 2050


Labels are often used for practical reasons, mainly as a point of reference in communication with others. We need a common term (e.g. a person’s / object’s name) for a conversation to be as effective.

Prof. Veidlinger teaches Asian religion at the University Chico and is often asked by students about the definition of Buddhism.

“Whatever people call it, I don’t know and I don’t very much care what it’s called”

Prof. Daniel Veidlinger

Let’s investigate: what is Buddhism, in conventional meaning and its true meaning? Some may define it in the rituals, some may define it as philosophy, others may categorise it as one of religion, or even differentiate it as spirituality. 

What does being a Buddhist mean to individuals and society, and its true meaning? Or is ‘being a Buddhist’ what we need/should strive for?

Buddha said ..you don’t deserve the label ‘outer robe wearer’ just because you wear an outer robe

‘Outer robe’ represents a perception. How much does perception of oneself and others affect our definition of the surrounding world, including how we interact with that surrounding world?

Kodo Nishimura, a Zen monk who also dresses up and works as a make-up artist – is he fitting in the definition of ‘monk’? By whose definition? Would Lord Buddha approve of this choice? 

Interestingly, monastics in Japan underwent a fundamental change from Buddha’s Vinaya (monastic rules). There were records of monks getting married during the Kamakura period (1185-1333).

However, the further secularisation of monastics for some sects was cemented in 1872 which allowed monks to be free to “eat meat, take wives, and shave their heads” as they chose.

Scholars suggest that allowing monks to marry was a ‘necessity’ to allow the continuance of inherited temple land to be passed on. The taking up of jobs beyond being a monastics was also done to fund their livelihood as some temples did not receive enough donations for day-to-day living.

Hence, this film might bring some form of cognitive dissonance for viewers who are used to monks being celibate and not in the ‘business’ of running temples. However, viewed through the lens of Japanese contemporary Buddhism, this is more rule than the exception.

Dhammapada 266: 

He is not a monk just because he lives on others’ alms. Not by adopting outward form does one become a true monk

When Kodo Nishimura was uncertain whether he was disrespecting Buddhism by also being involved in the fashion industry, he sought advice from his Master and strengthened his conviction in his choice.

“The Master said if the message can be delivered to many people and you can spread it easier, I don’t think wearing something shiny is a problem”

Kodo Nishimura

The notion that monks are still involved in worldly roles (e.g. taking up occupation), even if the intention is to expand Buddhism and draw more laypeople to be interested in the teaching – would’ve been something beyond the concept of ‘monastic’ to me. However, when applied to how Buddhism has developed in Japan, this brought me to a greater understanding and how perceptions can differ by magnitudes when history & culture intersects.

Even though his views differ from my personal opinion, I found it helpful to not be overly attached to how a monk should behave in this film and instead just let that disagreement sit peacefully within me.

Japanese Honen Buddhism, Bhutanese Vajrayana Buddhism, and Thai Theravada Buddhism – are these conventions created by the mind? What are the benefits and drawbacks of such segregation and categorisation?

Scene featuring Ani Pema Deki, Waking up 2050

“The Dalai Lama often says Buddhism is religion, philosophy and science”

Ani Pema Deki 

It seems to be a much deeper assessment than simple external perception. How many of us have genuinely adopted the full teaching to pass judgment? Or rather, would it still matter when one does reach such a level of realisation?

It feels like the effort to clarify such conventions may be less relevant to me, than using the same effort to take on the practice – of which the clarity would most likely arise from the journey. 

Light of Asia

A monk asked Seigen,

“What is the essence of Buddhism?”

Seigen said,

“What is the price of rice in Roryo?”

Zen Koan 

Buddhism is often linked to Asia. In Southeast Asia where it is one of the major religions, many follow traditions that could be considered cultural practices (e.g. 7th lunar month prayer or praying to gods in general). 

Where does culture and Buddhism meet? A way of life or a teaching? When those in Asian countries do things ‘a Buddhist is supposed to do’, does that make us a Buddhist?

“..if one sees the core Buddhism as a self-transformation, conquering desires.. to emerge into a more enlightened mode of thinking.. seeing the world as it is.. realise they’re impermanent – then the vast majority of Buddhists are not really practising. .. Though the essence of Buddhism is that there is no core that doesn’t change”

Prof. Veidlinger

Is there a benefit to an outsider’s mind looking at these practices and rituals to understand Buddhism? Is it a practice done in a specific place/time or can it be part of life? Embedded into our mindset, habits and values.

On the other hand, the female monastic topic has been an ongoing conversation. Ordination for female monastic is not allowed in many Buddhist lineages due to some scholars arguing that since the nun’s order died out long ago, it should not be restarted. 

Restarting it, they argue, requires breaking the rules set down by the Buddha which required the presence of already fully ordained nuns. Hence, this creates a circular argument which cannot be easily resolved. For some who do, it isn’t at the same level of recognition as male monastic and with more rules applicable to females than males.

Emma Slade was ordained in Bhutan, taking the Buddhist name Ani Pema Deki. And because she has had a child, Ani Pema Deki feels that her ordination is the result of luck. Nevertheless, she feels the experience of caring for her child, a vulnerable being, with patience and love has helped with her practice.

“It is real combination and it’s very useful for the path”

Ani Pema Deki

When we ask ourselves, what is the reason I’m following this teaching? What has arisen for us: because that’s how it is with my family/society, or because I choose to follow the path from my understanding. 

For many (including myself), it could start as automatic family/society culture and evolve into intentional choice from the ground of clearer understanding – which can be a path of its own.

Happiness in the world and beyond

The mind that is bent on finding meaning (or ‘happiness’ as it thinks), defining what’s right or wrong according to convention – seems like a turning circle with no end or rest. Similarly, the intention to present what is thought to be ‘perfect’ to the external world, is futile.

Amongst diverse worldly experiences packaged to bring happiness in the progressive world, will we wake up to true and lasting happiness when we arrive in 2050?

The next time we start a conversation with ‘I am..’, how would we continue the sentence? When we ‘do’ Buddhist instead of ‘be’ Buddhist, that’s probably a reminder to investigate the intention behind it.

At the end of the day, which is the more important question? Is the label used to refer to happiness or the actual path to arrive at true happiness?

“The teaching of Buddha-Dharma is limitless and boundless”



In a world filled with uncertainty and rapid change, Waking Up 2050 aims to shed a  guiding light, and illuminate the timeless wisdom of Buddhism and its potential impact on our life, today and into the future. As we navigate the complexities of the modern world, the teachings of Buddhism offer solace, inspiration, and a roadmap to true happiness. Let this documentary catalyse self-reflection and a source of hope as we strive to awaken to our fullest potential.

3 Reasons Why I am Watching Movies at THISBFF 2023

3 Reasons Why I am Watching Movies at THISBFF 2023

TLDR: The concepts of Death, Suffering, and Rebirth are major concepts in Buddhism, yet it may be hard for us to understand them via reading the suttas alone.  Watching movies may present a different view of how people facing these challenges make sense of them.       

The classic Beauty & the Beast “Tale as Old as Time” song evokes emotions as I reminisce about my grandmother’s stories during childhood. Stories have a magic that draws us in, like finishing a new Harry Potter novel in one sitting.   For Buddhists, some of us are probably acquainted with the Jataka Tales (moral Buddhist tales typically geared toward kids). Movies are similar, telling stories in a visual format.  

Here are 3 reasons why I am choosing to watch movies at the upcoming Thus Have I Seen Buddhist Film Festival (THISBFF) 2023, happening at Shaw Theatre Lido Singapore, between 23rd and 30th September  (No spoilers here – except movie synopsis and materials provided by THISBFF)

Death – the Dreaded 5 Letter Word:

         The word – “Death,” evokes strong visceral emotions in most of us.  Death is said to be as natural as birth, for with childbirth, there would be eventual death. I learned this in secondary school Biology class. Nevertheless, accepting this reality remains a challenge for me.  

I struggle with the idea of being separated from my loved ones.  As I advance into midlife, labels like “Boomers” strike fear as it remind me that I am of a separate generation from Gen Z/Millennials. More importantly, it reminds me that I am so much closer to my death than when I was in my 20s.  

Moreover, in 2019, I experienced a car accident, requiring life-saving surgery and four blood transfusions. This event profoundly heightened my perception of Death.

The movie – Review, where three terminal patients share their journey in facing death, intrigues me. How would I confront my mortality if faced with death? Hopefully, I won’t have to confront this reality for some time. However, the Buddha reminds the monks that we should maintain constant mindfulness of death, not just once a day but on every breath interval.  

As a layperson, I find the practice of the 5 Daily Remembrances, one of which reminds us that “I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death,” is a practice that I can aspire to better follow, to start my acceptance of Death. 

What Suffering Means to You?

I’ve come across the argument that ‘Suffering‘ inadequately captures the Pali term Dukkha, and I concur. I find ‘Unsatisfactoriness’ a more fitting representation of Dukkha.

Unsatisfactoriness covers a whole greater gamut of the challenges we face in our daily living – getting a passionately written article rejected can be a major source of discontent and pain to the aspiring writer, a non-event even for most people, and not warranting the big S-word “Suffering.” 

Life’s small sufferings are portrayed in the movie – Vanishing Point, via two men, a young idealistic journalist and a purposeless middle-aged motel owner. It shows suffering isn’t transcended until we calm our minds. For me, the practice of Mettā (Lovingkindness) and Karuna (Compassion) has been my go-to emotion regulation practice to soothe my mental suffering, as I face the inevitable challenges in daily life.  

         In the movie – The Mountain Path, a young man embarks on a journey to meet a Buddhist hermit master atop a mountain. Along the journey, he encounters various personalities who teach him how to live in the world within himself.  

This reminds me that the Buddha’s teaching has a significant emphasis on mind training, focusing on transforming us inside out. It involves using our daily life experiences as raw materials to transform our minds and ultimately help us overcome our suffering.  

We cannot seek to run away from our pain via external means, we can only overcome the pain via internal mind-training.  Bhāvanā or meditation, is the vehicle to train our mind, as taught by the Buddha. 

How do we define Rebirth? 

         Rebirth is a concept that may not be universally accepted by all Buddhists and has been defined and explained in different forms.  

The good news in Buddhism is that the Buddha encourages us to suspend our beliefs and discover the truth for ourselves.  While I am not anywhere close to understanding the deep Dhamma of rebirth, I have been intrigued by the story of Angulimala’s rebirth from a murderer to a monk.    

     Angulimala, the infamous murderer who killed 999 people and would have killed his mother if not for Buddha’s intervention, intriguingly captures rebirth.  The idea of rebirth from a murderer into a monk is vividly captured in the verse that the Buddha asked Angulimala to share with a pregnant mother who was having a problem birthing her child:

Angulimala shared: “Sister since I was born with the noble birth, I have never purposely deprived a living being of life. By this truth may you and the infant be safe!‘”

It is said that Angulimala’s noble birth, or spiritual rebirth, began with his ordination as a monk and culminated in his attainment of his Arahant (Fully Enlightened One).  From this story, I see that a form of rebirth is when we shed our former role or identity to take on a new one. 

What happens when we cannot fully transition into the new aspired role though? In the movie, “I Leave Home,” Sungmin, aspires to be a monk but is turned away for being over-aged. 

I look forward to seeing his purpose/identity re-evaluation. This resonates with my journey, as I need to re-evaluate my goals and timeline for my mid-career transition, from being a Counsellor to a Data Analyst. Some changes may take longer than we planned, so how do we navigate such challenges? 

Watching movies is the present commonly accepted form of listening to stories, for movies tantalise our eye senses besides our hearing senses.  

Beyond stimulating the basic 5 senses, I hope these films can stimulate your 6th sense – the mind-sense.  I hope it enables you to better understand and discover the wisdom of the above Buddhist concepts and beyond I look forward to reading some insights from the movie-goers to THISBFF 2023 in the HOL blog soon. 

Wise Steps:

  • Look up the Thus Have I Seen Buddhist Film Festival (THISBFF) 2023 website here and check out the movies that interest you.
  • Get 10% off your tickets with this Promotional Code: AHOLTHIS2023
Walk with me: An invitation to meditate during a film

Walk with me: An invitation to meditate during a film

TL;DR: This a reflection of a short movie about Thich Nhat Hanh, his teachings and community. Let’s walk together.

I had the chance to join the DAYWA (Dhamma Assembly for Young Working Adults) group for the Walk with Me movie screening some weeks ago. It’s a documentary showing a glimpse of activities in Plum Village, the community founded by Thich Nhat Hanh in France after he was exiled from Vietnam during Vietnam war time. It is a space for practitioners to immerse themselves in Zen Buddhism and the art of mindful living.

The directors perhaps wanted to appeal to a wider population, accompanying it with narration by Benedict Cumberbatch – with his deep voice and strong British accent. And I believe it may have worked when he read several lines from Thich Nhat Hanh’s journal throughout the movie.

There isn’t much dialogue or scripted lines like we’re used to in movies. It contains snapshots of activities, short conversations, moving images or sounds of nature.

What may seem like random scenes strung together, turns out to be a strangely beautiful flow of the story for me.

Cr: Scenes from the film

Captivating scenes

One of the earlier scenes left a deep impression on me: a group of laypeople on their knees, waiting in line for ordination. What’s striking isn’t so much the act of joining the ordained ones, but the deep sense of relief I see in their faces. Tears flooded down their faces, not from grief, but as if a huge rock had been lifted off their chests.

Cr: Scenes from the film

Witnessing such an intimate emotion, I can’t help but tear up and wonder to myself: when was the last time I experienced such a huge relief? What is weighing us down in life?

Cr: Scenes from the film. I love the knowing smile of “welcome to the group”

The bell chime every 15 minutes was cited by many of us as a good reminder for mindfulness – stop whatever it is and catch our breaths intentionally while listening to the bell for a few seconds. The resumption of the activities seems as if nothing has disrupted the motion; if not with the attitude of new experience.


“Friends want you to appear in the familiar form they know. But that is impossible. How could we continue to live if we were changeless? To live we must die every instance. We must perish again and again in the storms that make life possible.”

A few sentences with an immense reminder to the ever-changing nature of life: we’re not truly living if we try to fix part of us from others’ memory of us and we can’t fix others based on our memory of them. 

It also reminds me of one poem in Yung Pueblo’s book Clarity & Connection:

How can we have a real conversation if every time we speak I can see in your eyes that my words are not reaching you? They stop at a narrative you have created about me based on who I was many years ago.

A reminder to let go of the past – image and belief of something and someone. So we could be fully present with what is in front of us, even if it’s a version that we’re unfamiliar with or dislike about. 

The movie wasn’t only filmed within the compound of Plum Village, but also journeys to the outside world to share Buddha’s teaching. It was interesting how the monks’ and nuns’ encounters in the U.S. (prison visit, park meditation, monk’s and nun’s visit of family) shine light on the many who don’t understand Buddhism. 

The scenes showed how these monks and nuns patiently shared with those who’d like to listen, in a way relatable to them. It was almost funny how the prisoners seemed to be frightened or perhaps showing pity when the monk said monks/nuns do not hold possessions and don’t even hold their own money – as if to ask: who is the one living in jail? But who is the freer person – the one who chooses to drop things or who yearns for things being denied?

Final words

I’ve watched the piece for the second time to write this article and a third time to find meaningful scenes to include alongside and realise that I can ‘watch’ it with my eyes closed. The directors have inserted beautiful sounds of nature, chanting and singing, familiar yet unfamiliar words and melodies. This is the first time I’ve heard Namo Avalokistesvara being chanted alongside violin accompaniment – a new way to appreciate the words and embrace what it stands for. 

Cr: Scenes from the film: A smile can be a beautiful sound

One may expect to see more scenes with the Master himself. While Thich Nhat Hanh does make a couple of appearances in answering a question from a little girl (she’s feeling sad because her dog has passed away) and scenes covering his presence in the hall, there are limited scenes of him. His teachings and messages are cleverly transmitted through the actions and energies of his students; even in mundane activities like (mindfully) sipping a small cup of tea.

In summary, this may not be the typical movie or documentary.

One needs to appreciate and trust the flow enfolding every new second, as our self-held expectations and mind search for particular meaning or story, which is the result of a mind habitually trained at grasping. We can probably practise what Thich Nhat Hanh himself taught and come home. 

Key Reflections:

  • Keeping ourselves open to new activities with a new group of people could result in a positive experience
  • The group may be watching the same film, but the message that strikes us individually may be different depending on our internal world
  • Lengthy script isn’t necessary to transmit a message that is well-woven in the visual, audio and tone of the piece 
Film Review: Master Sheng Yen – A Life Story

Film Review: Master Sheng Yen – A Life Story

Buddhist Film Reviews is a partnership series between HOL & THIS Buddhist Film Festival 2021 (25 Sept – 8 Oct’21). Themed “Open your mind”, THISBFF 2021 features 15 thought-provoking documentaries and feature films from 12 countries. 

TLDR: Paying homage to Master Sheng Yen and his movement to revive  Ch’an (禅) Buddhist practice in Taiwan, the United States and around the world, the documentary paints a beautiful portrait of Master’s selfless life a decade after his passing in 2009.

If you had heard of Master Sheng Yen and his teachings, do you know how he came to be?

A saying goes, ‘still water runs deep’. Master Sheng Yen’s life story unfolds into many onerous chapters unknown to most. 

A posthumous biographic documentary, Master Sheng Yen (Chinese title: 本来面目) details his early years of ordination, the peak of his monastic life, its challenges, and his final efforts of serving Buddha’s dispensation. 

The title of the documentary alludes to the quote from The Sixth Patriarch Venerable Hui Neng in The Sixth Patriarch Sutra, 「不思善不思恶,正与么时,那个是明上座本来面目?」 This question was posed to Venerable Hui Ming, who realised enlightenment thereafter. It roughly translates to “without considering the good nor the bad, what is your original face?” Master Sheng Yen has used this ko-an to discuss the true nature of one’s heart in his teaching

To make up for the lack of intimate interviews with Master, the producer reconstructs Master’s personality and demeanour through animation, archival photographs, audio and video recordings, as well as extracts from letters and publications. Interviews of Master Sheng Yen’s disciples and acquaintances help us see Master as a humble teacher and striving monastic from their eyes.

Against the backdrop of socio-political turmoil and modernisation, the documentary tells an impeccable narrative of Master Sheng Yen’s life through the suitable use of black-white historical archives and re-enactments. 

Through the documentary, the audience traces the historical forces that shaped Master’s compassionate outlook and disenchantment towards the world. Notwithstanding the school of life, Master Sheng Yen was apprenticed under a lineage of Ch’an and Zen teachers, who were formidable in their practice. 

The nuggets of wisdom crystallised from Master Sheng Yen’s life experiences were offered together with pastel motifs of impermanence – albeit their screen times as fleeting as snowflakes. The scenes and delivery of content are ever-changing as with life – no one moment can be repeated like a running stream. Aptly, the cinematography takes on a sense of detachment – observing, looking on to the emptiness beneath.

How did the documentary make me feel? 

I felt encouraged about Master Sheng Yen’s tireless efforts to revive Ch’an Buddhism after the purging of religion from the Cultural Revolution. Watching the documentary helped me reflect that I have taken his compassionate teachings for granted.

I was never once bored because of the different types of sources and media used in delivering Master Sheng Yen’s story. At any point in time, I feel immersed in that particular decade with Master Sheng Yen when he was making difficult choices to practice in line with the Dhamma and to benefit sentient beings.

What was the most memorable scene? 

It was an interview snippet when Master Sheng Yen reminisced with the founding president of the Buddhist Society of the United States, Mr Shen. The latter drew an analogy where the Master was a field of merits and Mr Shen merely sowed in that field.

Hearing this, Master Sheng Yen broke down into sobs.

It was then that I realised the extent to which Master Sheng Yen had experienced life’s bitterness was one which no one could fathom, yet he remained such a hopeful pillar of support to his disciples.

What did I like about the documentary? 

It pieces together a Master Sheng Yen I did not know and it helps me to appreciate what he stood for and the contribution he has made for Ch’an Buddhism. 

I grew up learning about Master Sheng Yen’s teachings but I never understood who exactly was the monk who taught them — he was a man of calibre and honourable virtues; and definitely, a man of perseverance.

He was there in front of me throughout the documentary – his presence alive and piercing into my consciousness with light and wisdom.

What did I not like so much about the movie? 

There were a few quotes that flew by quite quickly. At the end, there were some text describing the development of Dharma Drum Mountain but the words may have been small and quick to pass over. Perhaps, I am a slow myopic reader and it is time for me to change my spectacles.

Who would I recommend this for? 

Anyone who knows Master Sheng Yen and who wants to learn from his life and his life’s works. This is a well-researched documentary – both educating and contemplative.

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Film Review:  Saffron Heart – A Little Monk Finding Home (PG)

Film Review: Saffron Heart – A Little Monk Finding Home (PG)

Buddhist Film Reviews is a partnership series between HOL & THIS Buddhist Film Festival 2021 (25 Sept – 8 Oct’21). Themed “Open your mind”, THISBFF 2021 features 15 thought-provoking documentaries and feature films from 12 countries. 

TLDR: A young monk is tasked to solve a series of puzzles in order to return home, but discovers something else in the process. 

The definition of ‘home’ changes throughout one’s life. Whether we consider it synonymous to the place, people, or just a sense of safety and security, ‘home’ may be where the heart is – but even the most permanent residences are inevitably transitory in nature.

It is a lesson young Lobsang learns as he is sent to a Buddhist monastery at the tender age of ten. Uprooted from home and thrust into an unfamiliar environment, he quickly finds himself missing his home and his parents, and that yearning turns into several failed attempts at escaping the monastery.

In response, his compassionate teacher draws him a map-quest consisting of a series of eight puzzles that upon solving would allow Lobsang to return home.

“Why do deers need an umbrella?”

“How do you hide a lion’s roar in a pot?”

“What is the difference between two identical fishes?”

Crafted in relation to the Eight Auspicious Signs in Tibetan Buddhism, each puzzle guides Lobsang towards a piece of Buddhist wisdom, with the young monk’s curiosity soon taking him around the monastery and out. Experimenting with meditation. Scouring dense forests and packed libraries. Even having a brush with the supernatural. Lobsang’s adventure is laced with philosophical questions on suffering and attachment, yet because of its colourful analogies, the lessons he takes away are accessible and creative takes on the Buddha’s teachings. 

Filled with inquisitive questions on every encounter, Lobsang ensures that the audience tags closely along when it comes to learning and growth.

The film takes place in Drepung Gomang Monastery in Mundgod, India, where 2000 monks currently reside. Giving us a glimpse into the everyday lives of Tibetan monks living in India, from hours of chanting and reading, to the unorthodox practice of Buddhist debate in Tibetan Buddhism, life as a monk centred heavily on education for these young men, covering not just academic texts but also philosophical discourses on logic and conceptualisation. 

Yet, practice for them also extends into laborious tasks like washing robes and kneading dough, dispelling any myths about how easy monkhood might be for Lobsang and any unknowing viewer. 

After all, renunciation for them was not meant to be an escape from the monotony of life, but to study life itself so they can share their knowledge and wisdom with others.

Beyond the Buddhist lessons, Saffron Heart is at heart also a story of friendship. 

Throughout the 90-minute film, we see a blossoming relationship between Lobsang and his senior novice monk Tashi, who was assigned to guide him along. Though the exposition in dialogue was at times lengthy, Lobsang and Tashi’s natural chemistry made them an endearing pair to watch and root for on their individual journeys of growth.

While the song choices for some scenes felt out of place at times, the cinematography was stellar throughout the film. Capturing Mundgod’s scenic mountainous landscapes and Drepung Gomang’s intricate architecture, any frame in Saffron Heart would not be out of place as a still. 

Despite Lobsang’s initial feelings of entrapment and longing for home, the mise-en-scene of scenes in the movie conveys a sense of spaciousness throughout the film. Living a completely different life in our concrete jungle here in Singapore, it made me wonder about the parallels between freedom, our environment and the states of mind.  

The debut feature film of filmmaker and music composer Paul McLay, Saffron Heart comes from simple motivations: a desire to help and to inspire. Channelling all proceeds from the film towards Tibetan refugees living in a conservation area in South India, the effort to raise funds for the displaced parallels the film’s central narrative of finding wisdom amidst adversity and change. 

Framed in a way that is suitable for all ages – from kids curious about Buddhism, to adults looking for a heart-warming tale – Saffron Heart serves as a reminder that as we go about our personal journeys, it’s not the destination but the process that serves as our biggest takeaway.

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