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8 Documentaries About Spiritual Teachers Every Seeker Should See

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Having embarked on the path of spirituality, most of us have lots of questions. We search for answers in books, video lectures, seminars, pilgrimages, etc. One way or another, most of us seek to find a spiritual teacher who can help us understand the incomprehensible labyrinths of the spiritual path and give answers to the most difficult questions. The meaning of life, the struggle with temptations, finding happiness, ending suffering, methods, and ways of self-improvement – these and many other vital questions we ask spiritual teachers.

But who are they – spiritual teachers? What was their spiritual path? How did they get the wisdom to guide thousands of people? This is what we are going to talk about in this article, or rather, give you the opportunity to find it out yourself. In this article, we want to share with you the list of 8 thought-provoking documentaries about spiritual teachers that you should definitely see.

8 Documentaries About Spiritual Teachers

#1 Awake: The Life of Yogananda, 2014

An unconventional biography about the Indian mystic Yogananda who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. This documentary was filmed over three years with the participation of 30 countries around the world. It examines the world of yoga, modern and ancient, East and West, and explores why millions today have turned their attention inward, bucking the temptations of the material world in pursuit of self-realization.

#2 Amongst White Clouds, 2007

American director Edward A. Burger takes us on his unforgettable journey into the hidden lives of China’s forgotten Buddhist hermit tradition. Amongst White Clouds is a look at the lives of zealot students, gaunt ascetics and wise masters living in isolated hermitages dotting the peaks and valleys of China’s Zhongnan Mountain range.” With both humor and compassion, these inspiring and warm-hearted characters challenge us to join them in an exploration of our own suffering and enlightenment in this modern world.

#3 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama, 2006

Filmmaker Rick Ray meets with Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama at his monastery in Dharamsala, India The filmmaker asks him ten questions during the course of the interview which is inter-cut with a biography of Tenzin Gyatso, a history of modern Tibet and a chronicle of Ray’s journey securing the interview.

Ray asks a range of questions, touching on philosophical, social and political issues.

Some of the questions asked:

  • “Why do the poor seem happier than the rich?”
  • “How can one reconcile an attitude of non-violence when faced with a direct threat to one’s safety and security?”
  • “Should countries be dedicated to preserving their traditions or embrace modern culture?”
  • “Will there be another Dalai Lama?”

The questions are not numbered in the film and Ray admits to asking more than ten questions during the interview.

#4 Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It, 2017

Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, gave the youth what the society could never give. He taught them to seek peace inside and to live without cruelty.

This documentary shows how wonderful it is when you have a great mission and purpose in life. And when there is a goal to change the world for the better, then the right people will always find you.

If you remember history, there were many other peaceful revolutionaries. If we talk about religion, Jesus was one of them too. So this movie is about history, about inspiration, about the power of the human spirit, about the purity of the heart, but NOT about religion.

#5 Wild Wild Country, TV series

This is a Netflix documentary series about the controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho), his one-time personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela, and their community of followers in the Rajneeshpuram community located in Wasco County, Oregon.

When a controversial guru builds a utopian city in the Oregon desert, it causes a massive conflict with local ranchers. This docu-series chronicles the conflict, which leads to the first bioterror attack in the United States and a massive case of illegal wiretapping. It is a pivotal but largely forgotten, time in American cultural history that tested the country’s tolerance for the separation of church and state.

#6 The Buddha, 2010

This documentary tells the story of the Buddha’s life, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion. It features the work of some of the world’s greatest artists and sculptors, who across two millennia, have depicted the Buddha’s life in art rich in beauty and complexity. Hear insights into the ancient narrative by contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Join the conversation and learn more about meditation, the history of Buddhism, and how to incorporate the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and mindfulness into daily life.

#7 Ram Dass, Going Home, 2017

Ram Dass is one of the most important cultural figures from the 1960s and 70s. The author of “Be Here Now”, beloved spiritual teacher, and outspoken advocate for death-and-dying awareness, Ram Dass is now himself approaching the end of life.

Since suffering a life-changing stroke twenty years ago, he has been living at his home on Maui and deepening his spiritual practice – which is centered on love and his idea of merging with his surroundings and all living things.

From his home on Maui, pioneering researcher, author and spiritual teacher Ram Dass reflects on love, life and death as his own days draw to a close. 

#8 Walk With Me, 2017

“Walk With Me” is a meditative film about a community of Zen Buddhist monks and nuns who have dedicated their lives to mastering the art of mindfulness with their world-famous teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.

Cooling to the mind and soothing to the spirit, this documentary offers a tiny oasis of relief to anyone overheated by current events. When you feel like freaking out, the movie’s commitment to slowing down and drawing inward doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

The Bottom Line

Spiritual Teachers belong to different faiths and traditions, but they all have one thing in common – the desire to help people.

Guru is an ocean of knowledge. And in this ocean, one disciple chooses stones and the other pearls, and this choice depends on the disciple. Therefore, listening to the advice of a spiritual teacher, always remember that the final choice is always yours. We ourselves determine which knowledge resonates with us and which does not. That is why we and only we are responsible for our personal spiritual development.