Since 1990 Dr. Francis Lu and Brother David Steindl-Rast have led annual 5- or 7-day film seminars at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. Films on a particular spiritual theme (such as Healing Through Gratefulness) are shown and discussed, focusing on the participants’ personal experiences. This seminar from 2016 offered aims for a mindfulness experience of cinema: The group viewed feature films in which inspiring characters embody positive psychological qualities (compassion, courage, forgiveness, gratefulness, wisdom, serenity). Learn about the films shown by clicking on the title hyperlinks below.

“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

For the first time, the leaders brought together seven great Japanese films, chosen for their potential to engender mindfulness. Seven Western films will complement them. The Japanese films are directed by Ichikawa, Kinoshita, Kurosawa, Ozu, Takita, and Koreeda. The Western films are directed by Bergman, Chaplin, Dörrie, Kubrick, McCarey, and Malick.

Film Order:

Twenty-Four Eyes
City Lights
Red Beard
Paths of Glory
The Harp of Burma
Rhapsody in August
The Seventh Seal
Make Way for Tomorrow
Tokyo Story
Cherry Blossoms
After Life
The Tree of Life

Br. David Steindl-Rast
Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

About the author

Brother David Steindl-Rast — author, scholar, and Benedictine monk — is beloved the world over for his enduring message about gratefulness as the true source of lasting happiness. Known to many as the “grandfather of gratitude,” Br. David has been a source of inspiration and spiritual friendship to countless leaders and luminaries around the world including Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, and more. He has been one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, and has taught with thought-leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, and Roshi Joan Halifax. His wisdom has been featured in recent interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Krista Tippett, and Tami Simon and his TED talk has been viewed almost 10,000,000 times. Learn more about Br. David here.