The title may be a shaky pun on the sacred Tibetan mantra "Jewel in the Lotus," but it's a pretty apt title for this interesting short film about an American Jew who comes face-to-face with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's religious leader. In the fall of 1990, writer
Rodger Kamenetz was asked to accompany a group of rabbis and Jewish scholars who were traveling to northern India to meet with the Dalai Lama. Kamenetz had recently plunged into a deep depression caused by the rejection of a deeply personal manuscript, and Marc Lieberman, the friend organizing the
momentous meeting of minds, figured Kamenetz's self-confidence might get a boost if went along as the delegation's scribe. The trip proved a life-changing experience for the writer, who -- daunted by the magnitude of the task at hand and haunted by the recent death of his infant son -- underwent a
complete psychic meltdown in India before reconnecting with the world via the Dalai Lama and a highly personal mix of Jewish mysticism and Buddhist traditions. Kamenetz first wrote about this unusual spiritual exchange and the questions it raised in his mind about Judaism in The Jew in the
Lotus, a 1994 book that has gained a considerable cult following. The film probably works best as a companion piece: It only touches on the points at which the two spiritual traditions coincide, and devotes most of its running time to the particulars of the author's physical journey.
Nevertheless, it's artfully put together, full of captivating footage of India and the meeting with the Dalai Lama, and manages to avoid the trap of coming off as little more than an hourlong infomercial for Kamenentz's book.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: NR
- Review: The title may be a shaky pun on the sacred Tibetan mantra "Jewel in the Lotus," but it's a pretty apt title for this interesting short film about an American Jew who comes face-to-face with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's religious leader. In the fall of 1990, wri… (more)