ONE MIND is a documentary film that will engage audiences with the living practice of a traditional Zen (Chan) monastic community in Southern China. Eschewing talking-head interviews and the authority of a narrative voice, audiences can expect a 90-minute immersion into the textures and sounds of a natural life, subtly expressing a motivation toward the spacious wisdom and compassion born of an enlightened awareness of unity and interdependence. In ONE MIND myths will be dismissed, as audiences can see that robust spiritual communities committed to strict adherence to tradition are thriving, whilst remaining somewhat hidden, at the core of China’s spiritual landscape.
Weathering the traumatic and rapidly shifting tides of history over the past century, the disciples of China’s great Zen Master, Empty Cloud have emerged at the heart of the revitalization of Zen Buddhism in China. Zhenru Monastery, the place where Master Empty Cloud lived and died, is considered one of China’s most respected and austere communities carrying forth a lineage over 1200 years old. In harmony with the land that sustains them, the monks at Zhenru Monastery farm, grow tea, and maintain a daily liturgy and strict meditation schedule. At the heart of this community is a group of cloistered meditators. Respected for their utter dedication to an internal art of cultivation, they are supported as the wellspring of wisdom and profound compassion from which the community draws its strength.
My Personal Connection
My journey began in university after reading the poetry of Han Shan, a Buddhist hermit that lived during the Tang Dynasty. The poetry of Han Shan and the mysteries of other Buddhist writings inspired me to seek out their source. That journey led me through India, Japan, Myanmar and finally China, where I have lived for over 10 years. Encountering hermit monks in the Zhongnan Mountains in China (as portrayed in my first documentary, Amongst White Clouds) taught me the importance of perseverance and dedication to practice. But over the years, like many others, I have struggled to integrate what I was learning into the activities of my daily life; how to practice “off the cushion” so to speak. So, my teachers suggested that I go to Zhenru Monastery in Southern China for study. There I found a community of hundreds of Chan monks living and practicing together; a community where the relationships between people, as well as with the physical spaces and natural environment they live in, form an integral part of a spiritual practice. My experience of participating in this community, where every aspect of their life is so deliberate, has been really enriching and transformative. And this is what I want to share through this film, ONE MIND.
Be part of the creation of ONE MIND
We need support to finish this documentary. Although the bulk of the filming has already been completed, there is still a lot more to do. In the spirit of what ONE MIND represents - the power of community - we found that Indiegogo was a natural platform to reach out and engage with those who would like to be part of the creation of this film.
Our goal is to raise $40,000. These funds will enable one more field visit to complete shooting, in addition to covering costs related to editing, music, sound mix, color grading mastering and some distribution and marketing in the United States. With these funds we can likely finish this film by October, 2014!
We also set a stretch goal of $65,000 which will help cover some international distribution and marketing. If we are able to reach our stretch goal, we can ensure that we reach as wide of an audience as possible. I am often contacted by folks all around the world that have been touched by the stories of the practitioners in my films. Just in the past month, I’ve received emails from fans in Argentina, England, Ukraine, Sweden, and Germany. Our dream is to have a wide international distribution, sharing the message of this amazing Zen community with the world.
If this project speaks to you, and you would like to be part of the creation of this film, please help spread the word, and if you can, make a donation to our campaign. It's a way to share with others the powerful contribution of these communities, and a way to honor these living Buddhist traditions.
Watch the full trailer
About the Filmmaker
“One could speak of the documentary as exemplifying a kind of Zen filmmaking..."
Marwood Larson-Harris, Journal of Religion & Film on Amongst White Clouds
"Beautiful. Very simply and elegantly filmed, the sense of care in filmmaking matches well with the sense of care in daily activities."
Wendi Adamek,The University of Sydney on Vows
"Burger has proven his ability to capture the heart of Chinese Buddhist practice and offer detailed and beautiful accounts of daily existence within this tradition."
Michael Walsh, Vassar University
Edward Burger is a documentary filmmaker. He grew up in a small Ohio town, spending long days in forests and fields. His microscope was his favorite toy. He would trade it in for a camera much later in life. Burger studied Religious Studies at The College of Wooster and studied Buddhism abroad with Antioch University in Bodh Gaya, India. During that time he travelled to Myanmar and temporarily ordained as a monk for one month’s time, a common tradition for young Burmese men of his age - and a pivotal experience that fueled his fascination of and commitment to East Asian culture and spiritual practices.
Following graduation, Burger moved to China, where he lived for 9 years, learned to speak and read Mandarin. Hired once as an interpreter on a film set, it was then that Burger picked up his first camera and learned about film production. He then convinced his parents to buy him a now classic Sony PD-150 DV camera and he went off to the Zhongnan Mountains to direct his first feature documentary film - Amongst White Clouds. Since that time, Burger has directed a second feature documentary - A Life in Shadows and has produced a series of short films including Vows and Alms. Currently in production are two feature documentaries, ONE MIND and River Dhamma.
Burger also spent five years living in Vietnam where his wife, Agnes worked as director of Hagar International, fighting for the rights of survivors of human trafficking and human rights abuses. In 2013, they both returned to Beijing where they now reside.
Digital download of Vows
VOWS is a 30 minute film that tells the story of monastic discipline in Chinese Buddhism with narration by Ven. Ming Ying, Senior Prior of Bailin Monastery, and seven ordained monks who recount their journeys from young layman to ordination day. Special release of Vows to the general public, only available during this campaign.
Digital download of Alms
Alms is a 30 minute film about the role of food in Chan monastic life. Audiences are guided by the community’s Head Chef (典座 dianzuo) as he explains the traditional cultivation, distribution and ritual offering of food in a Chan Buddhist community. Special release of Alms to the general public, only available during this campaign.
Receive an autographed hardcover edition of Bill Porter's, Zen Baggage. In Zen Baggage, Porter seamlessly weaves together historical background, interviews, and translations of the earliest known records of Zen along with personal vignettes on his pilgrimage through sites associated with the first 6 patriarchs of Zen in China.
DVD of Amongst White Clouds
Amongst White Clouds tells the story of an unforgettable journey into the hidden lives of China’s forgotten Buddhist hermit tradition. The film is an intimate insiders look at the lives of zealot students, gaunt ascetics and wise masters living in isolated hermitages dotting the peaks and valleys of China’s Zhongnan Mountain range. With both humor and compassion, these inspiring and warm-hearted characters challenge us to join them in an exploration of our own suffering and enlightenment in this modern world.
Traditional Stone Chop
Stone chop includes "One Mind" carved in Zhuan styled Chinese characters and includes red, clay ink. Designed by Mr. Liu, a local artist in Xisi Beijing who has been designing and carving stone chops for over 60 years.
Calligraphy Scroll - One MindThis calligraphy is hand inked by Venerable Guo Ying, a monk from Zhenru monastery. Carefully hand mounted on a traditional silk scroll, it reads, "One Mind" in Li styled Chinese characters. A picture of the mounted calligraphy scroll will be available after December 12th.
Calligraphy Scroll - Quote from the Flower Garland Sutra
This calligraphy is hand inked by Ven. Guo Ying, a monk from Zhenru monastery. It is inked in the Li style Chinese calligraphy and carefully hand mounted on a traditional silk scroll. A picture of the mounted calligraphy will be available after December 12th. Includes a line from the Flower Garland sutra (Chapter 16) partly inspiring the name of the film, "One Mind"
If duality in understanding does not arise, then all the Buddha’s teachings will appear before them. With this mind, having attained perfect enlightenment, Bodhisattvas know that all things are of this one mind essence, and they attain this Wisdom Body, awakened of themselves.
Other ways to help
1) Visit the gallery page (tab next to campaign home) for the media kit which includes some tools to help you spread the word and share about the campaign.
- One Mind flyer about the film and campaign (one page)
- One Mind campaign flyer with information about incentives (4 pages)
- Banner images for websites and newsletters
- Links to videos shown on campaign page
2) Like our Facebook page and repost our updates to your networks: www.facebook.com/edwardaburger
Thanks so much for your support!