The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"

Groundhog Day and Buddhism/Tantra

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[If you haven’t seen Groundhog Day, you may want to stop reading.]

A hilarious comment from the brilliant Everyone Is Jesus In Purgatory page (well, brilliant idea, anyway) on TVTropes (statutory warning: TVTropes will ruin your life):

Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day stands as Hollywood’s sole Buddhist message movie. As Phil (short for “philosopher”, obviously, a common name for the Buddha), Murray eventually realizes what takes many lifetimes to understand; namely, that every cycle of birth-death-rebirth (every “day”) is always the same, over and over, depressing, painful, and bound by karma (i.e.- how you’ve treated others in the past), until you awaken and make a conscious choice to change that destiny. It’s interesting that Phil takes the Tantric path, initially using the opportunity of being “reborn” every morning to simply fulfill all desires, and therefore, to ultimately purge himself of them. Still, over who knows how many “days” — how many lifetimes of days — he eventually comes to see the connectedness of all things, the sacredness of all life, and the joy to be found in knowledge, wisdom, and simply making a difference in the lives of others. By his own effort, and even against his own initial nature, over many lifetimes he achieves Enlightenment, and is able “move on.” Plus, that scene where he lets the groundhog drive the truck is freakin’ hilarious…

But searching the internet further, the connection seems to have been made more than merely at TVTropes:

Paul E. Schindler’s notes from a screening of the film, sponsored by San Francisco Zen Center

A Buddhist Interpretation of Groundhog Day By Sanja Blackburn

The Groundhog Day Buddhism Sutra by Perry Garfinkel at the Huffington Post
Longer one in the Shambala Sun

And other religions too:
Groundhog Almighty by Alex Kuczynski in the NYT. (Also available here here.)


[I was going to summarize them, but as of 2010-05-12, decided to just dump the draft I had.]

(Of course, the idea of the endless cycle/samsara/whatever is not a Buddhist idea but a pre-Buddhist Hindu one, but it occupies a more central role in Buddhism, and because of the greater popularity of the ideas of Buddhism in the west, it comes to be associated with Buddhism.)

Written by S

Mon, 2009-12-14 at 22:12:56

Posted in Uncategorized

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