Friday, December 31, 2010

Movie Review: The Zen of Tron Legacy

On 30th Dec, I watched Tron Legacy, the movie and I got more than I bargained for. I have always like sci-fi movies like Star Wars, Star Trek and Buck Rogers. I donot know if anyone here still remember Buck Rogers. He has a cute robot that shakes his head. Hahaha...! Well, before the movie I didnot read any review about it... at least not that much. I knew that it was a sequel and it starred Jeff Bridges and that he played two different roles in the movie. But that was more or less about it.

I certainly didnot anticipate the Zen elements in the movie. Other than Kevin Flynn sitting in meditation in various parts of the movie, there were quite a few thing I picked up from the movie that are not so obvious to non-Buddhists, and non-Zen Buddhists.

1. The seshins that Kevin Flynn do seems remarkable. Even in the midst of problems, he was able to do his meditation at certain times. That's what certain Zen traditions do. And this is indicated in the movie by Kevin Flynn.

2. The arrangement in the Headquarters of Kevin Flynn is simple and very Zen-style.

3. I think the quote " Perfection cannot be achieved but yet it is right in front of you" cuts across Zen. This is the very core of Buddhist message and it is a pity that non-Buddhist and I suspect, even most Buddhists may not be able to understand this deep message.

4. There is also this element of another world system within a tiny computer micro chip. Many Buddhist Sutras talk about this. You can find them in Avatamsaka Sutra, Lotus Sutra, and many others.

5. There is also the thing about the illusory self that does not ultimately exist. Everyone of us has a "Clu". The problem is our "Clu" thinks that he exists inherently. Think about it. Emptiness theory.

6. There is also a subtle reference to inter-dependent origination when Kevin Flynn explained the "miracle" of ISO. He said that it's a partial result of his own effort but the rest of it due to causes and conditions that come together.

So, I think Jeff Bridges was smart in bringing the Zen Master Bernie Glassman (Zen Peacemakers Center) to the movie set and incorporating Buddhist elements into the movie. But according to his (or was it his and Olivia Wilde?) interview, they also didnot want the movie to seems to be preachy. Therefore, the Zen messages were only very subtle, and I think they have achieved that.

I didnot expect Tron Legacy to be a Buddhist movie. And no, it is not. In order to be universal and in order to reach many more sentient beings, it is important for dharma messages not seem to be too Budddhistic. And one way to achieve that is through the movies and movies like Tron Legacy appeals to a wide audience. Worldwide audience actually. And I think it is a step in the right direction. We didnot need to spread Buddhism. Just spread the dharma message... like peace, seeking calmness in the midst of turmoil, love and respect for parents, parents love for the children, etc ...these are all universal dharma messages. And these elements are in this movie.

And this movie has also opened my door to what Zen Master Bernie Glassman has been doing all these while. I think he is a very good example of a master who lives the example of what an enlightened master should be doing, i.e. actively engaging with the world. I really find his street retreats interesting and if I have a chance, I would want to do it too. Yes, join his street retreats. This is what I am doing but in another way. I did my guru yoga right in the cinema theatre while watching this movie...and no, I was not distracted nor did I miss much. Jeff Bridges might call that seshin in the cinema. LOL! Indeed, Bernie Glassman is living his wisdom by his actions. And for that, I respect him. In the movie credits, Bernie Glassman is listed as a consultant under "Consultants and Advisors". Check this out:

So, what are you waiting for? If not for the sci-fi, just watch it for the Zen "dharma" elements. See what else you find is Zen dharma in the movie.


Germaine said...

do you know where to get a Zafu cushion similar to the one used in Tron?

Mahabodhiyana said...

Dear Germaine,

I wouldn't know. I'm sorry. Try the Zenpeacemakers "shop" page at their website. It's very likely they were the ones who supplied it since Bernie Glassman was their consultant.

DarthMoose74 said...

I was blow away with all the references in the movie!
I may have to write about it in my blag as well. :)