Becoming the Buddha in LA (1993)
Becoming the Buddha in LA presents to the viewer the richness and complexity of Buddhism and the three treasures (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha) within the most diverse Buddhist city in the world, Los Angeles. The film couples insight from an array of world-renowned Buddhist leaders, with intimate portraits of the lives of Buddhist leaders and adherents, to produce a snapshot of the encounters of variegated Buddhists and Buddhisms happening within Los Angeles and across the United States.
The film brings into view three major strands of American Buddhists. Multi-generational Asian-American Buddhists, new Asian-immigrant Buddhists, and non-Asian Americans who have become Buddhists. Through these communities, the film explores newly emergent forms of engagement with the three treasures, and the new Buddhist and non-Buddhist neighbors, that are both distinctly American and distinctly Buddhist.
These new forms take many shapes, including: temporary ordination of Cambodian teens following high school graduation, Vietnamese lay movements navigating zoning laws and the essential Buddhist teachings and practices, and Taiko drumming lessons at a Japanese temple to pass on the dharma to a new generation.
Further, among particular Buddhist communities, the film highlights the generational bridges being built and chasms not yet overcome, within an American context, concerning assimilation and the maintenance of inherited values, practices, rituals, teachings, and modes of gathering.
Becoming the Buddha in LA offers a lens through which to view the religious individuals and communities that make up the broader, and increasingly diverse, religious landscape of the United States, and the challenges and opportunities inherent in the encounter of these diverse religious individuals and communities.
- Director: Michael Camerini
- Run-time: 57 minutes
Watch this related short video about becoming a Buddhist monk: