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Buddhism, Man and Nature

With Alan Watts

Available for purchase as part of Hartley Classics Volume 4

In the wake of the Vietnam War and Watergate, Alan Watts introduced Eastern religion to a broad range of Americans thirsting for a belief system that could help them reconcile modern life with spiritual life. In this 1978 classic film, Watts collaborated with Elda Hartley, a leading documentarian and pioneer in the field of religion on film, to illustrate his meditation on Buddhist spiritual practice as it can be applied to his day. The award-winning result is this elegant, experiential film.

Watts opens the meditation to Hartley's images of water and Chinese paintings by saying:

"Even Buddha, the awakened one, the master of life, had to die, but why do we say had to die and why did even his disciples weep? We say, 'had to die' as if death is something that happens to us against our will, because we divide our whole experience into two parts: what we do and what happens to us, and according to the doctrine of the Buddha, this is the great illusion. There's really no difference, as the joyous ones in the heavens know."

" - when death comes, it's just like the winter. We don't say, 'There ought to be winter. That the winter season, when the leaves fall and the snow comes, is some kind of defeat, something which we should hold out against. No. Winter is part of the natural course of events. No winter, no summer. No cold, no heat.'"

" - the whole world, is in the vision of Buddha, like music. If you think that the world is going somewhere, that there are certain things that are supposed to happen, and there are certain things that are supposed not to happen, you never see the way that it is like music. Music has no destination. We don't play it in order to get somewhere. If that were the way, the best orchestras would be those who got to the end of the piece the fastest. Music is a pattern which we listen to and enjoy as it unfolds."

In Buddhism: Man and Nature, the profound prose of Watts and the crystalline images of Hartley speak to each other. The film offers viewers today a window into late 20th century American cultural, religious and film history, but also the experience of a masterful guided meditation thats merit and effect are timeless.

Buy this film as part of Hartley Classics Volume 4

Running Time: 
14 minutes

Producers: Irving and Elda Hartley

Gold Award, New York International Film Festival

"A beautiful film, highly recommended."
- Landers Film Reviews

"This video was never intended to be an ecology video, but the attitudes presented are precisely those needed to solve the problem at its roots."
- Ecology Today

If you would like to explore films with similar themes, please click on Buddhism.


You can order Zen Meditations with Alan Watts, World Religions Volume 4, which has 4 of the 5 requested.