Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Alternate Activity 2: The Buddha, a DVD

Activity time: 120 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A copy of the film The Buddha
  • DVD player, television, or monitor
  • Paper and pencils
  • Optional: Snacks, such as popcorn and drinks

Preparation for Activity

  • Rent or purchase a copy of The Buddha (2010), a PBS documentary directed by David Grubin and narrated by Richard Gere.
  • Test any electronic equipment you plan to use.
  • The Buddha is a two-hour film, which may be a challenge to fit into the workshop time you have available. Here are some options:
    • Show the film in two installments. If you choose this option, preview the film and find a good place to stop the first showing.
    • Replace some workshop activities with the film. If you choose this option, make sure you still cover the Eightfold Path.
    • Hold a special showing at an alternate time that works for all participants. If you choose this option, show the film before starting the workshop, and skip Activity 1, Story – The Life of the Buddha. You might also turn this activity into a multigenerational experience by inviting the youth's families (though the video would probably not be of much interest to children younger than 10) and others in the congregation.
    • Hold a special showing of the film and make it an engagement opportunity by inviting members of the local Buddhist community. You might ask if a Buddhist practitioner is willing to open the showing with a prayer. Make sure that any snacks served will not be offensive to guests. After the film, hold a short, informal discussion, and end with a UU benediction.
  • Optional: Prepare snacks.

Description of Activity

Participants learn the story of the Buddha's life and major teachings.

Indicate paper and pens/pencils; invite participants to use them if they want to take notes.

Show the film.

Hold a discussion. Use questions from Activity 1, Story – The Life of the Buddha, especially:

  • How does the Buddha differ from the Hindu and Jewish gods? Is he different from the Jewish prophets?
  • What does the term "the Middle Way" mean? What do you think the Buddha saw as the benefits of the Middle Way?
  • What Four Noble Truths did the Buddha realize?
  • Does this mean we should never desire anything? Is it wrong to desire air? To desire justice? What about desiring enlightenment?

Make sure youth take away an understanding of the Four Noble Truths.

You might also ask, in these words or your own:

In the film, many people give their interpretations of what the Buddha meant. Are these creedal statements-do all Buddhists believe exactly the same thing? Or is Buddhism similar to Unitarian Universalism, in that responsibility rests with individuals to follow their own spiritual path?

Including All Participants

Make sure the room where you will show the film is accessible to all participants. Arrange for closed-captioning or use the subtitles feature to assist any participants with hearing impairments.