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Groundhog Day for Buddhists

The key moment in "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring"

For me, this is the key moment in "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring." The heartbroken monk feels that he's failed as a teacher, and he freezes the boat so that the police can't row their prisoner away. In the next scene the monk immolates himself, with tears in his eyes. Then winter comes, and the prisoner returns to the island, a changed man. I saw this film years ago with 20 or so friends from the Unitarian church I was attending at the time, and to a person they thought the film was about the passing of time, the seasons, the beauty of life. But for me it's about something very specific, the question of how do you teach morality to a child. That's why there's a fifth season, because the child has now become the monk, and he's faced with the identical situation as his predecessor. The child in his care is tormenting small animals for fun, so the monk ties a lodestone to his back so that he experiences what the small animals experience. But this child grew up to be a murderer, so we're left to infer that an eye for an eye philosophy contributed to this fate. This is Groundhog's Day for Buddhists -- no happy ending, just a question: how do you teach morality, love, kindness, to a child?For me, this is the key moment in "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring." The heartbroken monk feels that he's failed as a teacher, and he freezes the boat so that the police can't row their prisoner away. In the next scene the monk immolates himself, with tears in his eyes. Then winter comes, and the prisoner returns to the island, a changed man. I saw this film years ago with 20 or so friends from the Unitarian church I was attending at the time, and to a person they thought the film was about the passing of time, the seasons, the beauty of life. But for me it's about something very specific, the question of how do you teach morality to a child. That's why there's a fifth season, because the child has now become the monk, and he's faced with the identical situation as his predecessor. The child in his care is tormenting small animals for fun, so the monk ties a lodestone to his back so that he experiences what the small animals experience. But this child grew up to be a murderer, so we're left to infer that an eye for an eye philosophy contributed to this fate. This is Groundhog's Day for Buddhists -- no happy ending, just a question: how do you teach morality, love, kindness, to a child?