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Remembering Master Jing Hui

August 19, 2016

I have always had an interest in Buddhism. But I've often questioned whether it is a religion or a philosophy. The practise seems almost religious, but on the other hand, Buddhism promotes an inner calm, peace, and acceptance towards things which are beyond one's control.  There is also a lack of 'preaching' within Buddhism, instead self-awareness, acceptance, forgiveness, respect, and thankfulness is encouraged. Probably deep down I actually see Buddhism as a philosophy of life rather than a religion, although perhaps practising Buddhists would disagree with me.

So this brings me on to Master Jing Hui.  This name is of great significance within the Buddhist world. Master Jing Hui was born in 1933 and was actually raised in a Monastery. He became a fully ordained monk at the tender age of 18 and by 19 years old he was accepted as a disciple of Xu Yun, which entitled him to the title of Zen Master.

I recently watched a tribute documentary in honour of this great man. I found the film on Bon Cloud, an online platform that promotes Chinese short films and raw footage of all things of interest in China. It’s an online platform derived from the popular Chinese TV channel, Bon.  It’s a great way for people who do not have TV access in China to keep up with things of interest in the country.

The first thing that grabbed me about the film was the opening scenes showing a world famous musician playing the piano in tribute to Jing Hui. The memorial ceremony was held in China and a German Pianist, Torsten Reitz, travelled over 1000 miles to attend the ceremony and paid his respects through his music. The audience was full of men and women in traditional Monk robes, many of which were famous Chinese Buddhist Monks.

Torsten Reitz performed two famous pieces of music in honour of this great man. I was surprised to discover that Master Jing Hui also had many disciples across Europe and Germany. The film intrigued me right from the start, because I didn't fully appreciate the impact that Jing Hui had made on 1000's of people, not only in China but across the world. 

The film features an English speaking narrator and provides subtitles too. I really liked this method. I am a script writer and film producer myself, so I pay close attention to these types of details when I watch anything. I'm quite fickle when I watch a film, documentary or footage. If it doesn't catch my attention in 30 seconds or so, I turn it off. However, this documentary did quite well to hold my attention and suit my professional, critical eye!

The documentary throws much light on parts of Jing Hui's life, but personally I would have liked to know a little more.  He lived a fascinating life and he brought a lot of recognition to Buddhism during his lifetime and it would have been good to see more of it.

Also, I think the film could've been slightly better if the viewer had seen a little more of the ceremony itself, but understandably it's quite difficult to put a lot of visuals in a short film.  In my opinion, the filming techniques were flawless. Clear and concise visuals and audio are important to hold the viewers' attention, especially if the documentary is on a subject not so familiar to you.

My favourite part of the documentary was wherethe other Monks discuss some of the aspects of what being a Monk is all about. Becoming a Monk is not about escaping the world and its problems, but embracing a whole new set of obligations. I have always wonderedwhat a Monk doesapart from meditation and the basic standards of living that are common knowledge. So, I enjoyed hearing about other aspects of their life and what Buddhism truly means to the disciples.

The background score is really good and has been performed by the same Pianist whose performance opens the movie. The narration ends on a good note though I was surprised to see no credits at the end. Of course this is not always necessary, but as a fellow film maker and scriptwriter, I would've liked to see some credits.

The film also showcased a few photographs and a video footage, all done with ease. After watching the video, I felt like I wanted to know more about Jing Huias the film raised my curiosity.I did a bit of my own researchto learn something more about him. If something raised my interest in this way, then for me this is the best I can hope for when watching something educational.

All in all, I would definitely recommend watching this documentary, regardless of whether you have an interest in Buddhism, Jing Hui himself or China.  The subject is fascinating, the music is good and the video quality is the best it could be. Definitely worth three and a half minutes of anyone’s time in my opinion.

Gemma Middleton

Written by Gemma Middleton

Screenwriter & Producer