Lama Film Is Lame
File under: Gurus on the Screen
The Berkeley Daily Planet wasn't very impressed with Leslie Ann Patten's Words of My Perfect Teacher:
There are few things more nauseating than self-satisfied white westerners opining on the virtues of eastern religions and philosophies. Too often the opiner has been disproportionately impressed by a dollar-book summary of a major religion’s tenets and has taken that grain of truth and blown it up into a mountain of simplistic misinterpretations. Words of My Perfect Teacher suffers greatly from this malaise.My!
Reviewer Justin DeFreitas even frames the whole space-daddy phenomenon for us:
One of the first and seemingly most obvious of his teachings is the danger of idolatry, of looking upon a teacher as an infallible and unfailingly wise creature who can bestow wisdom upon his disciples like a gift. Perhaps we’re seeing these students at too early a stage in their studies, but this is one lesson they seem to have trouble learning. Throughout the film they persist in this indulgence, viewing Khyentse Norbu as an all-knowing, all-seeing master of their fates. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a glance from Khyentse Norbu is just a glance, and sometimes a guru who appears lost in an airport is truly just a man lost in an airport. No matter, Khyentse Norbu’s disciples prefer to treat him like a human Rorschach test, taking his every glance and gesture as a great lesson to be learned and every all-too-human error as a mysterious and profound teaching moment—though they can never quite convey to us precisely what they have learned.A tip of the turban for Justin's insightful employment of sorely-needed critical thinking. It's a dead-on rendering of everything wrong with gurudom. Good gurus seem to attract it as much as the bad, all this in spite of their best efforts to mitigate the space-daddy effect. The bad gurus just grow it like a fungus in the minds of their marks, effectively putting a layer of mystifanatical nonsense between them and the spiritual understanding they believe they're paying for.