Someone asked me today if I had any new year’s resolutions. And in truth, I usually make no resolutions, for like most, I usually end up breaking most, if not all resolutions made. Instead, I quietly informed the inquisitive fellow that I would probably watch “Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall … and Spring.”
Whether one believes in the Buddhist tradition or not, the film shows the emotions and stages of life in comparison to the passing of seasons. Like many countries, South Korea does have ‘four’ seasons. In truth, I find this movie a similar paradox to life, in that all of us must learn the way our ‘higher-power’ intended for us. Each of us must proceed through each season until we find the enlightenment (i.e., that connection to our higher power).
The audience is reminded of the Buddhahood of all creatures. The compassion extended to the dead woman and her equation with the Buddha, reminds the audience that all creatures are “future Buddhas” and need compassion. Conversely, this is the same compassion embodied by Christ. It’s the same compassion eluded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Gandhi (I have no weapon but love…), Nelson Mandela, and many many others.
The movie’s Director, Kim Ki-Duk, stated:
“I started this film with the question, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ Everybody needs their own chance to ask themselves what life means to them, especially when a person goes through a painful period.”
The changing of the seasons, which most people witness and which no one of us can affect at all, offers experiences (lessons) in beauty, time, and acceptance, just as the aging of a human being has its own inevitability, its own facts and knowledge. Buddhist thought, which advances the path to peace, and encourages leaving anxiety, conflict, and desire behind, is a way of seeing all of existence as always present in one form or another, with each being and thing something we are connected to (connected to all, there’s no need for desire or envy).
As I begin to look unto the new year, I am full of new reflections, impassioned, as they remind me that something else exists. But the true renewal comes from an inward look, that is likely to come to mind in private moments, possibly late at night, as I think about various things—what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, whether I can get a favorite pair of shoes resoled for an affordable price, American politics, a favorite Afghan or Thai restaurant I haven’t visited in a while, my preference for this or for that.
But whatever those thoughts, I am reminded of something else exists. And that ‘something else’ is both wonderful as well as baffling.