One Mind is a rare cinematic portrait of life inside one of China’s most austere and revered Zen communities. The monks at Zhenru Chan Monastery continue to uphold a strict monastic code established over 1400 years ago by the founding patriarchs of Zen in China. In harmony with the land that sustains them, the monks operate an organic farm, grow tea, and harvest bamboo to fuel their kitchen fires. At the heart of this community, a group of cloistered meditators sit in silence for 8 hours every day. Suggesting a Zen version of the critically acclaimed film Into Great Silence, One Mind offers an intimate glimpse into a thriving Buddhist monastery in modern China.
But more than a portrait of life within this monastic community, One Mind is an experiment in Buddhist filmmaking. A markedly quiet and contemplative film, Burger has set forth to craft a documentary that is not ‘about’ Buddhism, but rather a ‘Buddhist film’. Taking inspiration from traditional Zen stories and lessons told to him by elder monks and teachers at Zhenru monastery, each chapter of the film explores the trials and challenges we all must face when we set forth to become wiser, kinder human beings. In One Mind we learn that this journey begins when we turn our gaze inward. That no matter how far we have traveled and how many mountains and valleys we have crossed, the true adventure awaits us within the landscapes of our own mind.
Director Edward A. Burger (Amongst White Clouds) has lived and studied with Buddhist communities throughout China for over 15 years, and is the first Western filmmaker to be granted such unprecedented access to the daily rituals and traditions practiced in this remote mountain monastery.