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Lions Roar : July 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2009 41 It’s nothing.” He also suggested that Rita, the love interest, could be compared to a dakini, a deity representing the feminine aspect of enlightenment who can help practitioners wake up. I admit I saw none of this when it came out, nor even after watch- ing it again. And again. I was relieved to hear the same reaction from David Cohn, a college friend of Ramis’s who became a longtime member and ordained priest of the san francisco Zen community, managing the Zen Center’s culinary spin-offs, and eventually open- ing his own restaurants. “I can see it now that it’s pointed out, but it didn’t strike me as great spiritual text,” Cohn said, adding, “Ramis is a wonderful warmhearted guy, a bodhisattva who makes everyone around him feel better, and he has always had that.” Ramis pointed to several lines that do suggest a Buddhist sub- plot. When Phil discovers he can do anything he wants—like overindulging in food or punching nerdy high school chum Ned in the mouth—he says, “I’m not going to live by their rules any- more.” “yes, no consequences, no cause and effect, so empow- ered,” Ramis said. “He doesn’t realize yet it’s a trap his ego has set for him. The power to do whatever you want is a common delightful fantasy.” And when Phil drives his truck off a cliff in an effort to end the cycle, only to wake up at 6:00 a.m. on Groundhog Day once again, he tells Tv viewers that “it’s going to be cold, and it’s going to be gray, and it’s going to last a long, long time.” “This is the state of total nihilism,” Ramis said. “Even death is no escape from our demons. It usually takes hitting the bottom of the barrel for man to seek spiritual redemption.” Phil says, “I would call Harold an ethically responsible spiritual pluralist with Jewish roots and Buddhist tendencies,” says Rabbi Irwin Kula. “Both traditions understand that we laugh so we don’t get too attached to our suffering.” Left to right: Michael Cera, Jack Black, and director Harold Ramis on the set of his new film, year one. ➢ page 96