retrofuturist wrote: ↑
Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:03 am
"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.
What if the actor is presenting the dhamma? Would it not be good for an aspirant to focus with even more passion on the dhamma?
Dhammanando wrote: ↑
Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:16 am
The early Quakers wrote rather insightfully on the evils of theatre, in effect saying at enormous length what the Buddha said to Talaputa in brief. Much of what they had to say about the acting profession of their day would probably apply with full force to Hollywood, inasmuch as the latter seems to exhibit a comparable degree of moral degeneracy to that of Stuart Restoration comedy.
What about a Shakespeare play?
The first class of arguments comprehends such as relate, to what may be called the manner of the drama. The Quakers object to the manner of the drama, or to its fictitious nature, in consequence of which men personate characters, that are not their own. This personification they hold to be injurious to the man, who is compelled to practise it. Not that he will partake of the bad passions, which he personates, but that the trick and trade of representing what he does not feel, must make him at all times an actor.
This seems dubious to me.Why "at all times" would he be an actor? Would it not be good for an actor to portray a Buddhist monk in a film that was true to the dhamma?
They hold it also to be contrary to the spirit of Christianity. For men who personate characters in this way, express joy and grief, when in reality there may be none of these feelings in their hearts. They express noble sentiments, when their whole lives may have been remarkable for their meanness, and go often afterwards and wallow in sensual delights.
Isn't "method acting" about getting to a place where they *are* experiencing feelings in their hearts? If they are mean in real life might it not be good to practice having no mean feelings? "Method" relaxation exercises seem to be close to Buddhist meditation:
They personate the virtuous character to day, and perhaps to-morrow that of the rake, and, in the latter case, they utter his profligate sentiments, and speak his profane language.
Isn't it useful to get to know the evil person, especially complex ones like Iago in Shakespeare's Othello? Then they and their audiences may learn to understand evil thoughts better and let go of them more readily.
The Quakers also believe, that dramatic exhibitions have a power of vast excitement of the mind. If they have no such power, they are insipid. If they have, they are injurious. A person is all the evening at a play in an excited state. He goes home, and goes to bed with his imagination heated, and his passions roused. The next morning he rises. He remembers what he has seen and heard, the scenery, the language, the sentiments, the action. He continues in the same excited state for the remainder of the day. The extravagant passions of distracted lovers, the wanton addresses of actors, are still fresh upon his mind.
If it's only distracted lovers that fill your mind, as a diet of Hollywood films might lead to, then, yes, I can see it as rather useless. But what if it's the greatest thoughts of Hamlet?
"There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is ’t to leave betimes? Let be."
They are of opinion also, that dramatic exhibitions not only tend, of themselves, to make home less agreeable, but that they excite a craving for stimulants, and, above all, teach a dependence upon external objects for amusement. Hence the attention of people is taken off again to new objects of pleasure, which lie out of their own families, and out of the circle of their friends.
Really? They might also be an alternative to stimulants - in my alcohol drinking days I often went to see a good play instead of going to the pub! I might even have seen Falstaff or some "angry young man" and thought maybe I should drink less.
What does a layman do as relief from studying the dhamma? I can't see "reading Quakers", or listening to Quaker preaching, as better than attending a Shakespeare play. In fact, Shakespeare, I would argue is more Buddhist! Or at least he is broad enough to encompass the Christian or Buddhist reader. Note that "There’s a special providence
in the fall of a sparrow." If Shakespeare had not been post-Christian he might have said, "God controls everything—even something as trivial as a sparrow’s death." [which is how Spark notes translates it!] But there is a Buddhist interpretation here - providence might be karma.