How ‘Birdman’ Spoke The Dharma

The script of ‘Birdman’ seems significantly influenced by Buddhist teachings, as we can see in the following three scenes…

[1] Riggan watches his breathing to calm down, as he sits to briefly meditate at his dressing table, on which is a mirror with a card that says, ‘A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.’ Indeed, we should learn to see things as they are; not as we are, with our added convoluted thoughts that mar our otherwise pure perception. This is what we seek to do in meditation too – to become calm and thus clear. The truth of anything is as it is, not as (mis)represented or (mis)intepreted in any other way.

[2] Riggan holds a flower to a journalist to mock her usage and attachment to words, saying, ‘Do you know what this is? Do you even know what it is? You don’t. You know why? Because you can’t see this thing if you don’t know how to label it. You mistake all those noises in your head for true knowledge.’ Is this not reminiscent of the Buddha holding out a lotus flower to his audience to directly transmit the Dharma, which most of them missed with their conjectures of what he really meant, thus missing the essence of the flower itself?

[3] Riggan confesses and laments to his wife, ‘I love you and I love Sam (their daughter). I really wish I hadn’t videotaped her birth. Cause I missed the moment, really. I don’t have it. I should have just been there with the two of you. You know… just the three of us. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t even present in my own life, and now I don’t have it and I’m never gonna have it.’ Indeed, in the midst of trying to cling to precious moments, we will miss fully living them from moment to moment. What we need to do is to bask in the light of mindfulness, to experience life as it is, so as to respond best we can, with compasson and wisdom!

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