Actors go to Hell?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Annapurna
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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by Annapurna » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:30 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
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.
That is what I tried to say. Thank you.

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Adrien
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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by Adrien » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:45 pm

I think that we have to begin with acknoledging that when the Buddha says :
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
It doesn't actually mean that all actors will go to hell after death. It's exactly like if I said : "people who smoke get cancer"... We all know what it means : these people increase their chances to get cancer, but they don't necessarily do.
It's the same with actors who increase people's delusions and passions : it tends to lead them into hells.

And we know it's true because there is only four actions which leads directly into hell in the next life (wounding a Buddha, killing an arahant, killing a parent, or creating a division in the sangha).

And I think we all do it at least a little : for example for christmas, I'm sure a lot of us will offer presents which will create pleasure and attachment... (Maybe it's a more significant thing for actors because they fuel the kilesas of a lot more people ?).

Another thing to see is that the Buddha is countering a false view. So maybe he put a lot of emphasis in his talk to mark his listener's mind ?

Last point : if I kill an mosquito, it may be one of a lot of other actions, which put together, will lead me to hell in a futur life ! And I could totally imagine someone saying "killing animals for this or that reason lead to heaven", and the Buddha answering with a similar response as above ("killing animals leads to hell").
Please don't hesitate to correct my english if you feel to

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by Annapurna » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:56 pm

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.

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.
Thank you, Bikkhu Pesala.

I see your points... with the emotions....

But I also think about movies a lot.

I contemplate, during the movie, often the Dhamma. How we are making ourselves and each other suffer with words that are not right speech, and actions that breed kammic repercussions of the worst kind....and how it is so unnecessary, and how easily it could be avoided. I also feel compassion with victims and so forth.

War movies like Platoon have been next to unbearable for me, though, emotionally. Your term roller coaster put it well.

What do you think about "Little Buddha"?

:anjali:
Last edited by Annapurna on Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by Individual » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:42 pm

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.

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.
I seem to vaguely recall a certain modern Theravadin monk who ran a blog -- can't remember his name... It was dhamma-something or something-dhamma.

Anyway, despite being an ordained Theravada monk, he stated that he still watched films and television from time-to-time because his interpretation was that modern artistic works have a capacity for enlightenment that was not found in ancient times, where the acting and comedy was something like vaudeville.

As I understand it, the Buddhist path is not only the end to becoming, but also for some may involve becoming a better person; the conventional practice of merit-making. For the one focused on the goal of liberation, the path of merit is parallel and supportive. The Buddha ceased rebirth because he followed the holy life of morality and, having attained nibbana, his actions were morally blameless; so the paths of morality and enlightenment are not separate. And for those with self-view, having no knowledge of the unconditioned, becoming a better person is all that they can hope for.

Also, films do not necessarily just enrich people morally; it can enrich them intellectually as well. Not just dry intellectual knowledge, but meaningful insights can be gained. The Ghost in the Shell and The Matrix are both examples of media which can demonstrate the notions of notself and of emptiness.

Throughout Buddhist history, Buddhists have used art in the form of statues, stupas, and mandalas, to demonstrate Buddhist concepts. And these beautiful works of art resulted in part from outside influence. One could consider this a corruption, but the Tipitaka is itself a work of art which arose in dependence on the culture at the time, so why should it matter? Everything is empty, so it is possible that mindfulness of entertainment media could be beneficial if it is an object of mindfulness. If a person turns away from entertainment media mindlessly, because they are attached to the view and doctrine, there is no benefit because there is no wisdom.

...On the other hand, I think I also vaguely remember Ven. Dhammanando say he avoids television like the plague, and he seems intelligent, and I'm kinda sympathetic to that view also, I guess. It is good at least to abstain from entertainment media from time-to-time, to observe how we are often emotionally dependent on it. :)
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by cooran » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:23 pm

Adrien said: …. actors who increase people's delusions and passions : it tends to lead them into hells.
Sadhu! Well said!
The Buddha’s teachings are to lead us to ‘’seeing things as they really are’’, and to help us cut free of the neverending cycles of rebirth in Samsara.

Those who work with increasing the veils of delusion in themselves and others, will naturally reap consequences.

With metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by octathlon » Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:28 am

If anything, this is more relevant today, not less. The art forms are now much more sophisticated and even better at manipulating and evoking the emotions and passions. Plus some of the actors we have now -- political talk show hosts -- generate huge amounts of delusion, fear, and outrage in their audience, who get addicted to it and keep tuning in for more, and spreading it to others. It's easy to see this behavior leading to hell.

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by Lazy_eye » Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:22 am

I would take issue with the generalization that theatre, in all forms, serves only to increase the veils of delusion in others, or to stir up emotional tempests. That's simply an inaccurate statement. Theatre over the ages has served different functions (depending on what genre we're talking about). In some cases, as with medieval morality plays, it was designed to teach lessons of virtue and vice. I think it was Samuel Johnson who said the purpose of theatre was to "entertain and instruct".

In ancient Greece, it provided a means for viewing existential problems with discernment. Aristotle argued that the function of drama was to help people become less entrapped by their emotions and better understand reality. Theatrical "catharsis" refers to a kind of purifying or cleansing (this is what the word "catharsis" literally means) which enables clear reflection to take place. In the modern period, Berthold Brecht said that theatre can have a distancing effect which strips away the fantasies that reinforce the existing power structures and allows people to look at society with a critical/dispassionate eye.

To put Shakespeare, Chekhov and Euripides in the same boat as Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck seems to me like a gross oversimplification. The goals of serious theater are directly opposite to that kind of demagoguery.

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by octathlon » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:05 am

Lazy_eye wrote:To put Shakespeare, Chekhov and Euripides in the same boat as Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck seems to me like a gross oversimplification. The goals of serious theater are directly opposite to that kind of demagoguery.
Hi Lazy Eye,
If you read my post, I said that the admonitions are even more relevant in today's entertainment than in the Buddha's time. I didn't mention the time of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Euripides. Also, I used the political talk shows (and I should add in Keith Olbermann to avoid seeming to only include the right wing) as examples of the more dangerous types of entertainment today, in terms of the negativity and even violence that they promote. So I don't understand why you interpreted my post that way; it was not meant to say the things you attribute to it at all. So, do you disagree with anything I actually said? (fine of course if you do, but you were arguing against stuff I didn't even say).

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by Lazy_eye » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:18 am

octathlon wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:To put Shakespeare, Chekhov and Euripides in the same boat as Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck seems to me like a gross oversimplification. The goals of serious theater are directly opposite to that kind of demagoguery.
Hi Lazy Eye,
If you read my post, I said that the admonitions are even more relevant in today's entertainment than in the Buddha's time. I didn't mention the time of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Euripides. Also, I used the political talk shows (and I should add in Keith Olbermann to avoid seeming to only include the right wing) as examples of the more dangerous types of entertainment today, in terms of the negativity and even violence that they promote. So I don't understand why you interpreted my post that way; it was not meant to say the things you attribute to it at all. So, do you disagree with anything I actually said? (fine of course if you do, but you were arguing against stuff I didn't even say).
Octathlon,

You wrote that "the art forms are now much more sophisticated and even better at manipulating and evoking the emotions and passions" and then compared theatre to political talk shows. The meaning I got from this was that you were using talk show hosts to support the general principle that art is bad for you -- in other words, you were mounting a kind of straw man argument by offering the worst possible examples.

Was that not the case?

And Chekhov is modern period, by the way.

LE

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by Jason » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:32 am

I find the idea of a literal "hell of laughter" laughable.

I think it should be kept in mind, however, that when the Buddha talks about hell (niraya), he's often talking about unpleasant or painful painful mental feelings "like those of the beings in hell" (AN 4.235). As I've mentioned elsewhere, I think the Buddha held a more nuanced position than a lot traditionalists believe. For example, David Kalupahana notes in his book, Buddhist Philosophy, that:
  • A careful study of these concepts of heaven and hell, gods and evil spirits, reveals that they were accepted in Buddhism as regulative ideas or concepts only. The fact that they are merely theories based on speculation is well brought out it certain statements by the Buddha. To a Brahman who questioned the Buddha as to whether there are gods, the replied, "It is not so." When asked whether there are no gods, the Buddha’s reply was the same, "It is not so." And finally to the Brahman who was baffled by these replies, the Buddha said, "The world, O Brahman, is loud in agreement that there are gods" (ucce sammatam kho etam brahmana lokasmin yadidam atthi devati). The same is the attitude of the Buddha with regard to the concept of hell. In the Samyutta-nikaya he is represented as saying that it is only the uneducated ordinary man (assutava puthujjano) who believes that there is a hell beneath the great ocean. According to the Buddha's view, hell is another name for unpleasant feelings (dukkha vedana). [The first reference is MN 2.213, the second is S 4.206]
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by octathlon » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:42 am

Chekov is pre-TV and movies. Before the modern forms of entertainment I'm talking about.

My opinion is posted above where it can be read as many times as necessary until it becomes obvious that I didn't equate movies and theatre with political talk show hosts. But I did say that both of those evoke emotions.

To clarify: I said we EVEN have these talk show hosts. As in: Not only are the movies nowadays really good at evoking the emotions and passions (which BTW is what they are designed to do after all), but we even have these other actors/talk show hosts who evoke really strong negative emotions in their audience. I hope that is clear now.

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by pulga » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:29 am

"The ripening of action, monks, is unthinkable, should not be thought; for one thinking (it) would come to madness and distraction." Aiv, vii, 8

But how much of what is contained in the Suttas is put into jeopardy by that admonishment?

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by Lazy_eye » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:30 am

octathlon wrote:Chekov is pre-TV and movies. Before the modern forms of entertainment I'm talking about.

My opinion is posted above where it can be read as many times as necessary until it becomes obvious that I didn't equate movies and theatre with political talk show hosts. But I did say that both of those evoke emotions.

To clarify: I said we EVEN have these talk show hosts. As in: Not only are the movies nowadays really good at evoking the emotions and passions (which BTW is what they are designed to do after all), but we even have these other actors/talk show hosts who evoke really strong negative emotions in their audience. I hope that is clear now.
Ok, then, so who exactly is going to hell? Talk show hosts? Hollywood stars? Shakespearean actors? The Manhattan Rep? Since you say the teaching is more relevant today than before, perhaps you can clarify how it should be applied?

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by octathlon » Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:02 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Ok, then, so who exactly is going to hell? Talk show hosts? Hollywood stars? Shakespearean actors? The Manhattan Rep? Since you say the teaching is more relevant today than before, perhaps you can clarify how it should be applied?
Hi Lazy Eye,
I just gave my opinion that the teaching is "if anything, more relevant today, not less" in response to someone suggesting that it might not be relevant today. Of course you don't have to believe in it, or anything else. I'm not here to try and convert anyone.

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Re: Actors go to Hell?

Post by cooran » Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:51 am

pulga wrote:"The ripening of action, monks, is unthinkable, should not be thought; for one thinking (it) would come to madness and distraction." Aiv, vii, 8

But how much of what is contained in the Suttas is put into jeopardy by that admonishment?
None whatsoever. You didn't give the full quote. It simply means that attempting to work out of the results of kamma is so complicated that it would bring madness and vexation to anyone who conjectured about them. This is one of the famous Four Unconjecturables which the Buddha taught about.

Acintita Sutta AN 4.77
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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