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. “Exploring Nirvana and Salvation in Film” was one of two themes in 2003.

Babette's Feast

Film provides great possibilities to explore spiritual realities. Yet the range of adventures offered by this medium remains largely unexplored by spiritual seekers. For their eleventh film seminar together, Brother David and Francis led participants on various treks into this still-uncharted territory. This seminar reprised their March 1994 one, which was a favorite of many participants. “Nirvana” and “Salvation” are terms identified with specific religious traditions; we explored them, however, as basic experiences relevant to every human being. Six rarely shown films of exceptional quality shed light on the relationship between Eastern and Western spirituality — their contrasts, polarities, and creative tensions.

Films shown in this order:

Bagdad Cafe
The Mission
The Harp of Burma
Tokyo Story
Babette’s Feast




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.