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.  “Learning to Forgive: A Film Viewing Adventure” was one of two themes in 2003.


Rhapsody in August, video

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”  We know this quotation from Alexander Pope, but do we realize its implications?  All of us carry the divine spark of forgiveness in our hearts.  We can neglect and quench this spark; but if we fan it ablaze, it will   bring light and warmth and healing into the world and into our own lives.  Can you think of a more likely setting for this to happen than an Esalen seminar? Forgiveness is an art that can be learned and practiced.  The better we understand ourselves, the more ready are we to forgive ourselves and others.  Films have a unique power to facilitate this process.

Our film selection meets two criteria: one, aesthetic and the other, psychological.  The films we will see are outstanding examples of filmmaking from around the world, and they feature Enneagram types which model different approaches to forgiveness. You need not be familiar with the Enneagram; this is your chance to get acquainted with it.  Nor is it necessary that you are an expert on cinema.  All you need is a readiness to embrace the forgiveness of which W. B. Yeats wrote:

“I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.”

Films shown in this order:

Wild Strawberries
Marvin’s Room
Death and the Maiden
Les Miserables
Dead Man Walking
Cry, The Beloved Country
East of Eden
Rhapsody in August

Late-night bonus films:

Autumn Sonata
Sunrise
Regret to Inform


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.