How Not To Portray The ‘Buddha’

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Confession #192: There was an animated film titled ‘Buddha 2’ promoted and featured by a supposedly ‘Buddhist’ film festival in September 2014. Its script follows Osamu Tezuka’s ‘Buddha’ comics series, which is already known for its grossly inaccurate portrayal of the Buddha’s life story. As such, it is already known that ‘Buddha 1’ was a flop, which probably made its makers more zealously promote ‘Buddha 2’, with a trailer composing of many scenes from the first film, which is thus deceitful, as this creates false expectations. It also sells the trilogy as ‘no myth’ – when it is incredibly deviant from scriptural records. Yes, unfortunately, there is ‘Buddha 3’ coming up. To the utmost horror of many concerned Buddhist friends, despite some having raised the alarm on ‘Buddha 2’s problematic nature upon knowing it was selected for the festival, there was no response of cancelling or changing the film. Our confession is that we probably should had further raised the public alarm.

As expected, when the film was screened, it caused an uproar among Buddhists who could see its glaring mistakes. As an example, a review can be seen at (This review inspired us to share this confession.) The gravest and most unforgivably disrespectful part showed the Buddha to be a confused coward, even upon attaining Buddhahood, to be commanded by a god on what to do. This totally distorts the supreme status of the Buddha, as he surpasses all humans and gods with his perfect compassion and wisdom. This is downright blasphemous slander of the Buddha and the Dharma he realised. If even the true status of the Buddha and the worth of Buddhahood are warped, what good can such a film do for Buddhism? It can only do harm. As responsible Buddhists who care about how our fundamental teacher and his teachings are portrayed, we have to highlight this here.

Imagine impressionable non-Buddhists and Buddhist newbies, from young children to adults, who leave the cinema thinking the Buddha is spiritually weak and subservient to a higher power, thus losing interest in learning the Dharma. We cannot imagine the amount of harm and possibly hellish negative karma created from facilitating this diminishing and interrupting of hundeds of sentient beings’ otherwise progressive Buddhist spiritual life.

Aren’t all films featured supposed to promote and not destroy the Buddhadharma? It is hard to understand how the festival committee approved this film. Were the members ignorant about such basic Dharma above, or did not care much about propagating the true Dharma? Selection of the film seems to show their lack of qualifications for running a festival in the literal name of the ‘Buddha’ and Buddhism? Please do not think that ‘It is just a cartoon!’ Because the festival itself IS for promoting Buddhism through films. It is a ‘Buddhist film festival’. Even if the organisers do not take the films seriously enough, the audience members are likely to.

Was the film selected carelessly, for making easy entertainment money despite potential spiritual confusion of the audience? It cannot be for education for sure – because the film definitely does a tremendously poor job in this aspect. To further horror, the festival did receive funding from some major Buddhist organisations. What an utter waste of money from the Buddhist community it is then, in selecting this film. Surely, the sponsoring organisations trusted the committee to only promote the Dharma, and not distort it. We hope these organsations’ names are not tarnished, along with the proper Dharma they represent.

Resolution: Our resolution is to, as above and below, speak up on these issues, while they are still fresh on our minds, so as to protect the Buddhadharma and to caution all from making similar mistakes in the future. We are thoroughly disappointed at the choice of this film, and hope the committee will more stringently scrutinise all future films before selection, seeking and listening to the advice of multiple more knowledgeable Buddhists along the way. If there is no public apology from the committee expressing repentance, to rectify the doctrinal mistakes in the film systematically in circulated writing, we should all be wary of the sincerity and Dharma integrity of their future projects.

As Buddhist film festival organisers and festival audience members, may we all be very mindful of what we promote and watch. Public media is perhaps the easiest means to make or break Buddhism. Buddhism’s downfall easily begins from uninformed, unmindful and/or insincere Buddhists’ in/actions. As taught by our fundamental teacher Sakyamuni Buddha, the true Dharma can only be destroyed inside out, by those who are supposed to be Buddhists. Please share this confession with all you know, who had watched the film, read the comics, or plan to. Even if the festival committee is not going to do anything to undo their mistakes best they can, at least, we can. Thank you for your compassion in upholding the true Dharma. (This article will also be submitted to as a movie ‘review’, and to the festival sponsors later.)

– A Circle Of Deeply Disappointed Dharma Friends

Submit your fully anonymous confession-resolution at

Related Reviews:

Why Tezuka’s ‘Buddha’ Is No Buddha
Review Of Osamu Tezuka’s ‘Buddha 1 & 2′
This ‘Buddha’ Should Be Forgotten

Related Articles:

Was The Buddha Reluctant To Teach?
The Buddha’s Victory Over A God And Demon
Was The Buddha Just A Man? (How The Buddha Called Himself ‘Buddha’)

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