Since 1990 Dr. Francis Lu and Brother David Steindl-Rast have led annual 5- or 7-day film seminars at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  Films on a particular spiritual theme (such as Healing Through Gratefulness) are shown and discussed, focusing on the participants’ personal experiences.  In 2005 “Exuberance, Creativity and Delight in Film” was the theme.

Leonard Bernstein

According to Joseph Campbell, “the function of mythology is to connect you to your bliss, and find where it truly is.” Films, as one form of our modern-day mythology, can infuse us with energy and a passion for life. This exuberance can spark creativity through bringing together ideas in unique and novel ways. Finally, we are in the flow of life that Campbell describes: “Participate in the play, in the play of life… the Great Delight.”

In these eight feature films the main characters embody exuberance and creativity in luminous, numinous performances. Watching these performances trains our eyes, minds, and hearts for a most specific purpose: to see, understand, and feel the longings of our psyches for delight.

Films shown in this order:

The Magic Flute (2000 DVD of Bergman film)
Shall We Dance? (1996 Japanese film)
French Cancan (2004 DVD of 1955 film)
Reaching for the Note
Day For Night (2003 DVD)
Don Juan DeMarco (1998 DVD)
Dream Window: Reflections on the Japanese Garden
Rivers and Tides
Tampopo (2005 DVD of 1987 film)

Late-night bonus films:

Dances of Ecstasy (2009 DVD replaced the 2003 DVD)
Leonard Bernstein Conducts “West Side Story” (1985 DVD)
What the Universe Tells Me – Unraveling the Mysteries of Mahler’s Third Symphony


Br. David Steindl-Rast
Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

About the author
Brother David Steindl-Rast — author, scholar, and Benedictine monk — is beloved the world over for his enduring message about gratefulness as the true source of lasting happiness. Known to many as the “grandfather of gratitude,” Br. David has been a source of inspiration and spiritual friendship to countless leaders and luminaries around the world including Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, and more. He has been one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, and has taught with thought-leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, and Roshi Joan Halifax. His wisdom has been featured in recent interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Krista Tippett, and Tami Simon and his TED talk has been viewed almost 10,000,000 times. Learn more about Br. David here.