Zen has been surrounded by myth, taboo and misconception. The Zen Mind is a journey across Japan to explore the practice of zen and expel some of these myths. It is a documentary full of contrasts as we travel across the width and breadth of Japan to explore Zen today. In Japan, the cloistered lifestyle of the zen monk is declining, but zen is finding a renewal among the baby boomers in the cities. Our journey starts here with a visit to the Dogen Sangha or zen center, tucked among the office buildings of a Tokyo suburb, where commuters and office-workers stop by for meditation.
We join the formal ceremonies of Kyoto’s largest zen temple and witness the rituals that have managed to survive a thousand years. In the depths of the surrounding countryside we visit a zen center that is carrying on the very spar tan and simple zen lifestyle that many temples have abandoned. This contrast heightens as we enter Japan’s largest soto zen monastery and live with the zen monks and disciples. Our cameras film unrestricted as we join the monks.
Throughout this journey is the underlying practice of zazen or meditation, the act of sitting and concentrating the mind to an emptiness—to reach a self-realization and enlightenment. Intimate interviews with the spiritual heads or Roshi reveal their methods and precepts for zazen and keeping their students on the path to enlightenment. One of Japan’s leading flute players, Christopher Yohmei Blasdel provides the unique soundtrack of shakuhachi flute fused with digital melodic tones. The combination of beautiful photography, compelling narrative and striking music create a very memorable zen experience.
This video is filmed entirely on location in Japan at the following Zen monasteries and center: Soji-ji Monastery, Tenryuji Temple, Ryoanji Temple, Nanzenji Temple, Ginkakuji Temple, Kyoto Kokusai Zendo, Dogen Sangha-Tokyo, Komazawa University and Eishen-ryu Iaido dojo.
~Peace to all beings~