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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.

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.


"Shot in the Zhenru Chan Monastery in China’s Jiangxi Province—a monastic village in a territory that is so rural the government allows it to remain open, despite official oppression of monks elsewhere—the illuminating documentary One Mind is a contemplative, quiet film. Adhering to a 1,200-year-old tradition, the Chan Buddhist monks living at Zhenru spend most of their days working, meditating, and living in silence, tending to the commonplace with a singular focus that is best described by the film’s title. Director Edward Burger succeeds beautifully in capturing that heightened focus that overcomes distractions of the mind. One Mind has no narration and the few conversations between monks captured here take place during relaxed moments—getting one’s head shaved, or discussing a crop schedule. Instead, the film immerses viewers in an array of images and sounds: wind blowing through a bamboo forest, rain splattering on a stone floor. Burger alternates close-ups with wide shots to both provide context and exude a sense of worldly oneness. While the monks clearly lead hard and rigorous lives, the film also strongly suggests the rewards of enlightenment. Recommended." Aud: C, P. (T. Keogh) Video Librarian 

"Edward A. Burger’s superb film One Mind is a documentary contemplation of the meditative life currently practiced at Zhenru (true suchness) Chan monastery in Jiangxi, China. The film aspires to be a Chan Buddhist film, not just about Chan practice at Zhenru monastery, but more importantly an open exploration into the state of mind that is cultivated and lived there experienced through the filmmaker’s own long-term participation in this meditative way of life. In this respect One Mind is a remarkable success and in addition provides justification for a review of a Buddhist film in the Journal of Buddhist Ethics. If ethics is concerned with the qualities of particular ways of being in the world then what we see in this film is Buddhist ethics at its best." —Dale S. Wright, Journal of Buddhist Ethics 

Subjects: Asian Studies, Buddhist Studies, Comparative Religion, Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology

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 Additional Film Info:

Distributor: Juno Films
Directors: Edward Burger
Length: 81 mins.
Genre: Documentary
Type: Color
Year: 2015
Language:Mandarin with English subtitles