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on February 6, 2007
This is a three-hour video, in five episodes, about Tibetan Buddhist practices. Note that despite the big picture of the Dalai Lama on the package, he just makes a few brief appearances, as do various other Tibetan Buddhist teachers. The film is more anthropological than spiritual, so if you're looking to incorporate some Buddhist wisdom into your life, this is probably not the video for you. It's more like a National Geographic program, documenting people, places, and practices that you're unlikely to experience in person.

Episodes 1 and 2 are mainly collections of video of miscellaneous practices, including dances, chanting, prostrations, debating, and the creation of butter sculptures and a sand mandala. Episode 1 also includes a few minutes on the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The practices aren't explained very well, and I noticed that much of the narration went sliding through my brain as sound without registering as meaning, perhaps because it was so abstract and "metaphysical." The other three episodes are more coherent--both clearer and more cohesive.

Episode 3, on the bardo (the period between death and rebirth), shows parts of the ceremony for a lama (teacher) who has died, discusses beliefs about the bardo, shows how monks find the reincarnation of their deceased lama, and says a bit about the then-current Karmapa (head of the Kagyu lineage) and the current Dalai Lama (head of the Gelugpa lineage), who are understood to be reincarnations of the previous Karmapas and Dalai Lamas.

Episode 4, on the spirits, includes footage of two female shamans engaged in healing and divination, oracles channeling the spirits in a public ceremony, and the Nechung Oracle, who is the protector of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government.

Episode 5, on Tibetan medicine, discusses the balancing of the energies of heat, water, and wind and shows various medical practices, including pulse-reading, the application of heated cups and rods to the skin, and the gathering and use of herbs. In several brief appearances, the Dalai Lama says that Tibetan medicine works well for chronic illnesses and as preventive medicine but that for medical emergencies it's "hopeless," and he stresses the medical importance of a doctor's genuine caring and warmth.

I would've liked this film better if it included more explanation and analysis or if it offered more spiritual insight, but if you'd just like to see some of the practices of Tibetan Buddhists, this film includes lots of footage of lots of practices.

If you want to learn more about the Dalai Lama and Tibet, I'd recommend the DVD "Compassion in Exile." If you want to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism in a way that might be relevant to your own life, I'd recommend the book "The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation" by Chogyam Trungpa.
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on December 25, 2006
This is a phenomenal video. The cinematography is elegant, the narration flawless and the introduction into a colorful complex culture impeccable.

There is an error in the title as listed by Amazon. The Actual video title is On Life and Enlightenment not Dalai Lama on Life and Enlightenment. Now that that is taken care of, we can get to the essesence of this video.

There are many scenes with His Holiness,and very fortunately with other great Tibetan masters who impart the essence of the given subject. Each topic is shown as demonstrated in real life, ritual and with its metaphorical significance.

The chapter on mudras shows mudras, and also how they fit in the broader context of Tibetan worship and society. Mandala not only shows the creation of a sand mandala but the mandala as our own universe. The bardo shows the actual performance of a great lama's funeral and the finding of a reincarnate lama. Lha explores the spirit world and oracles. The chapter on Tibetan Medicine shows the spectrum of an elaborate ancient system of healing.

I have spent much time in the company of Tibetans including the Dalai Lama and other masters through out India and even with that there are many rituals and sights shown in this video that I have never seen.If one pays close attention to this video, the wisdom of a thousand texts is here.There are few videos I can recommend as strongly as this one for Buddhist students and nonstudents alike.

Another excellent video I can recommend is The Tibetan book Of the Dead narrated by Leonard Cohen.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Boxed Set)
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on March 28, 2006
Whether or not you're a Buddhist practioner, or simply intellectually curious (as am I), this program is thoroughly engaging. While there's an abundance of information on Buddhist practices, beliefs and rituals, I was pleased to see quite a bit of attention on its history, including the recent and current struggles in Tibet with China. There are quite a few teachers or leaders featured in the program, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and even a segment featuring Richard Gere discussing the importance of a Free Tibet. As a bonus item with the DVD set, there is a wonderful audio CD called "Music For Enlightenment" by Rahul Sharma, which is mesmerizing and highly relaxing. I've got it playing right now! Check this out, you will not be disappointed.
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on March 28, 2006
Ive seen alot of these films, docs and movies like the cup, seven years in tibet etc but nothing compares to this. I am in awe as to how raw and uncut this series is. Its like receiving wisdom teachings whilst touring tibet, nepal, india and bhutan with the greatest masters of buddhism. I love how the producer and director made a 5 part series from this as its just the window into understanding life and enlightenment. Saw it at the Ruben Museum special screening and was blown away....Had a chance to meet the producer there as well. Its so good to see a young, articulate person interested in this kind of cinema. Lots of success.....
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on April 3, 2006
I saw a preview of this DVD at the Tibetan museum in Manhattan and I had to have it! As another reviewer mentioned, it is raw and beautiful and so incredibly informative. It takes you to the heart of Buddhism without all the false commercial spin and polish we're bombarded with every day. I felt like I was really in these exotic places speaking with these spiritual leaders and witnessing the beautiful rituals of this religion. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in Buddhism or even just world religions in general. Fantastic!!!
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on December 8, 2006
Hi, I bought this DVD, hoping that there would be some practical explanation of buddhist principles given by the Dalai Lama. However, it is a documentary (and it is a good documentary) about buddhism in general. The point that annoys me about this product is that "Dalai Lama" is written all over it, yet he only makes a short appearance in the 300 minutes of film.
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on December 5, 2009
I ordered this from Netflix initially, so it came as 2 discs. really was blown away by first volume, and marked to see again before returning. now watching 2nd volume.
for the first time ever, i was not going to do the normal "watch-and-return" to netflix, but planned to keep and review all of it... however, came to Amazon and found the set at a very very reasonable price.

i really enjoyed the spectacular scenery, the insightful interviews, photos, insight into the Tibetan culture.
do i "believe" in the 4th part - the shamanic healing? as a westerner, not so sure. but i would believe it could help those who grew up in the tradition .... and if i had access to such a healer, and had a problem, might try it.

whether you are a practicing buddhist, tibetan buddhist, do za-zen, or just 'ordinary mind' - it's still a wonderful glimpse into a vanishing culture. and i'm soooo glad i found it here to buy and add to our collection.
a real keeper!
Dalai Lama on Life and Enlightenment
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on November 28, 2014
Not for beginners. Even being advanced I still thought it was a poor production.
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