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DVD Review: Dhamma Dana

November 6, 2009

Dhamma Dana
Low Pressure Films/ Theodore Martland

Dhamma Dana is an extraordinary look into a culture that is hidden under a governmental shroud. Rarely are we giving a glimpse into such a serene lifestyle.

Theravada Buddhism, which is on of the two main branches of Buddhism, is considered the “Doctrine of the Elders” drawing it’s teachings straight from the Tipitaka which is believed to be one of the oldest teachings of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. Burma, or as it’s know now Myanmar, is traditionally a Theravada practicing country. Nearly 90% of the country practices Theravada Buddhism, including (believe it or not) the tyrannical ruling junta of the country.

Theodore is able to bring us not only a glimpse into this world, but give us such insight I felt like some of the misconceptions I had were made clear. For one, I couldn’t comprehend how the monks of the country could continue on under such tyranny. But through their practice, they create and embody a level of compassion toward the leaders of Burma that I could only dream of having.

Dhamma Dana also breaks down the importance of the practice of dana in Burmese monasticism. It is believed that the act of dana, gift giving to monastics, helps purify the mind and karma of the dana giver. Each day, throughout Burma, lines of monks can be seen making their dana rounds, receiving mainly small amounts of food to sustain them but also receiving other gifts which help them continue their studies and the ability to pass on what they learn to the lay people of the country.

From the pagoda’s to the open landscapes, Theodore truly mesmerizes the viewer with amazing scenery. Dr Molini, a Buddhist nun, provides a good amount of the commentary and explains what Buddhism truly means to people in Burma, in her own words “Holy mind is most important.”

With only 26 days to film this documentary, Theodore has accomplished quite a bit with this 30 minute film. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to not only watch the film but to have truly taken away so much more.

Dhamma Dana has been accepted, and will be featured, at the Queens International Film Festival in New York. For those that can, I recommend going to view this important film.

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