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. “Transformative Journeys in Film: Awakening to the Eternal Now” was the theme in 2013.


Since movies began, luminous actors and actresses have depicted journeys that transform human consciousness. This seminar showed feature films (1939-2011) from the US, Japan, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and China including some films not seen at our film seminars since 2006, with our first two all-time favorites among them.

Beginning and ending with films depicting pilgrimage — physical journeys that make every moment sacred — our films will focus on the psychological aspects of journey itself. Along the way, we will live this call from the Dalai Lama: “Awareness of death is the very bedrock of the path. Until you have developed this awareness, all other practices are obstructed.’’ As we see film characters undertake their journeys, we will experience what Joseph Campbell described: “The Way of Art coincides with the Way of Beauty. However, there is another and further possible degree or range of the revelation of art that is beyond beauty, namely, the sublime.” Viewing these films will awaken us to living the Eternal Now, where in the words of William Blake, ‘‘Eternity is in love with the productions of time.’’

Films shown in this order:

The Way
A Celtic Pilgrimage
The Straight Story
March of the Penguins
Journey of the Universe
After Life
What the Universe Tells Me: Unraveling the Mysteries of Mahler’s Third Symphony
Fried Green Tomatoes
Wild Strawberries
Tokyo Story
Mahler 8th Symphony
Mahler Das Lied von der Erde
Singin’ in the Rain
The Tree of Life
Le Quattro Volte
Wheel of Time
The Wizard of Oz

Bonus films:

The Road Home
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Cherry Blossoms

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.