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Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:50 am
by darvki
"Any beings who are not devoid of passion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of passion, focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of aversion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of aversion, focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of delusion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of delusion, focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Thus the actor — himself intoxicated & heedless, having made others intoxicated & heedless — with the breakup of the body, after death, is reborn in what is called the hell of laughter." Talaputa Sutta, SN 42.2

I know quite a few actors, most of whom use the craft to enrich their lives wholesomely. I never thought I'd find a canonical text that claims actors are reborn in a hell realm.

Comments? Am I reading the text too absolutely?

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:10 am
by cooran
Hello darvki, all,

The Blessed One's teachings are not always palatable, and don't always fit with what we want him to teach.

Here is the full sutta with link:

SN 42.2 Talaputa Sutta: To Talaputa the Actor translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel's Sanctuary.
Then Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of actors that 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"

"Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that."

A second time... A third time Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, said: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of actors that 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"
"Apparently, headman, I haven't been able to get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.' So I will simply answer you.

Any beings who are not devoid of passion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of passion, focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival.
Any beings who are not devoid of aversion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of aversion, focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival.
Any beings who are not devoid of delusion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of delusion, focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival.
Thus the actor — himself intoxicated & heedless, having made others intoxicated & heedless — with the breakup of the body, after death, is reborn in what is called the hell of laughter.

But if he holds such a view as this: 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."

When this was said, Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, sobbed & burst into tears.
[The Blessed One said:] "That is what I couldn't get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.'"

"I'm not crying, lord, because of what the Blessed One said to me, but simply because I have been deceived, cheated, & fooled for a long time by that ancient teaching lineage of actors who said: 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.'

"Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear.

I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:24 am
by Sanghamitta
Which brings us neatly to another point...The Pali canon might represent the most accurate record of the Buddhas teaching. But that does not absolve us from engaging our grey matter and junking the stuff which is from another time and another culture. So where do we draw the line ? I hear you ask. That is where the grey matter comes in on a case by case basis.

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:35 am
by Bhikkhu Pesala
We should perhaps translate as "comedian" rather than actor, but its a fine line, and the explanation about arousing lust, hatred, or delusion in others also applies to dramatic actors.

Very similar is the Yodhājīva Sutta regarding warriors — another teaching that would be unpopular with the families of soldiers. Nevertheless, if you kill, and try to kill others, even in battle, that kamma is something that leads to hell. Complex justifications do not make killing human beings into wholesome kamma.

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:02 am
by tiltbillings
Isn't that Laurence Olivier over there on the left?

Image

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:48 am
by Annapurna
I've read this with interest, I understand it, and tend to agree, with my limited understanding, but I have a problem with this.

I can imagine that creating more lust and aversion in others by performing in shallow idle chatter productions is not conducive to good rebirths.

But what's up with movies and actors who appeal to the best in us, and help to make us better people?

Who cause us deeper insight into ethical and compassionate conduct, show us things that were beyond our little world, and so enrich us and even help us to purify ?

There are even Buddhist actors such as Richard Gere, and Keanu Reeves, who starred in "Little Buddha".

I honestly can't fathom think they will end up in hell for this. .

What do you think?

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:53 am
by tiltbillings
Annapurna wrote: I honestly can't fathom think they will end up in hell for this. .

What do you think?
More likely going to go to hell for what they do in their private lives than anything done on screen.

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:08 pm
by Sanghamitta
We cant just take a set of social conditions that prevailed 2500 years ago and apply them willy nilly to our present situation. Some actions do not change. Deliberately killing another human being is just as heinous an act now as then. Other actions have to be understood in the context of their time . I dont know what an actors life was like in Ancient India. I do know that in 17th and 18th century Europe it was more or less identical to prostitution...many actors did both.
To assume that the jobbing actor at your local theatre is bound for hell simply because of the way that she or he earns a living is superstitious nonsense worthy of the worst excesses of the Puritans.

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:11 pm
by Annapurna
tiltbillings wrote:
Annapurna wrote: I honestly can't fathom think they will end up in hell for this. .

What do you think?
More likely going to go to hell for what they do in their private lives than anything done on screen.
I like your dry sense of humour... :tongue:

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:14 pm
by Bhikkhu Pesala
Annapurna wrote:But what's up with movies and actors who appeal to the best in us, and help to make us better people?
The Buddhist path is not about becoming a better person — it is about putting an end to becoming.

Try as I might, it is hard to think of any films or plays that would help anyone to gain realisation of the Dhamma. Even award-winning films like "Shawshank Redemption" or "Its a Wonderful Life" cannot free anyone from the illusion of self-view.Films like "The Killing Fields" or "The Seventh Seal" might shock us into contemplating the harsh realities of samsāra for a while, but does it really open our minds to the truth of suffering?

Watching a serious film or listening to classical music is just an emotional roller-coaster ride. The cessation of feeling and perception is still remote for deluded beings who are immersed in and swept away by feelings. Feelings should be rightly understood as impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self.

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:46 pm
by Modus.Ponens
There's something wrong with this sutta. By the same reasoning, and much more likely due to the intensity of the lust, a person who has sex frequently with his/her partner, would cause lust in the partner leading the former person to hell (the hell of sex). Please inform me if the Buddha ever said something like this.

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:23 pm
by tiltbillings
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Annapurna wrote:But what's up with movies and actors who appeal to the best in us, and help to make us better people?
The Buddhist path is not about becoming a better person — it is about putting an end to becoming.
Depends upon what is meant by better person. As I see it, the Dhamma is very much about cultivating morality, generosity, compassion, leading to insight. Looks like becoming a better person to me.

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:09 pm
by Individual
Just the bad ones

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:41 pm
by pilgrim
How about other occupations like the advertising industry? isn't that worse as it creates desire when there was none? Surely even the during the Buddha's time there were jobs equivalent to advertising like when a shopkeeper calls out the merits of his wares,..

Re: Actors go to Hell?

Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:12 pm
by Sanghamitta
pilgrim wrote:How about other occupations like the advertising industry? isn't that worse as it creates desire when there was none? Surely even the during the Buddha's time there were jobs equivalent to advertising like when a shopkeeper calls out the merits of his wares,..
Really, if we are going to start drawing comparisons between the social and economic situation in The Buddhas day compared to now we would never run out of mind stuff.