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Lions Roar : November 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2011 90 We can’t be sure what’s down the road. But at Prentiss Smith & Company we believe that a disciplined investment approach, and attention to each client’s individual situation, can take an investor a long way. For a brochure that includes our performance record please call. TOLL FREE 800 -223-7851 The Long Run. PRENTISS SMITH & COMPANY, INC. Portfolio management for the socially conscious investor since 1982 Offices in Brattleboro & Burlington, Vermont • www.socialinvesting.com alcohol, sex, validation, sensation. Imperioli wrote the script shortly after he started going to Buddhist teachings, yet the film is not Buddhist and neither are the characters in it, not even the guru character. Her spirituality is what Imperioli describes as a “hodgepodge,” mostly a mix of Buddhism and Hinduism. “There are a lot of spiritual ideas that come into Hungry Ghosts,” he says, “but it’s really about spiritual confusion. It’s about searching and not knowing what to search for, knowing you want something but not knowing what it is. I was inspired to write about those things from pursuing a spiri- tual path. “I spent several years knowing that I had to start meditating but not doing it,” says Imperioli. “I was convinced I couldn’t.” Like many people, he believed that in order to meditate he had to stop thinking and he knew he wouldn’t be able to do that. Eventually, however, he came to realize his misconception. What meditation actually involves is sitting down and acknowledging your thoughts. Hungry Ghosts wraps up with meditation. That is, in the final scene, many of the principal characters meditate together, and right after Imperioli finished making the film, he started medi- tating himself. “So it’s not a movie about Buddhism,” he explains, “but in some ways it led to it.” Imperioli and his wife are working on a new film with a spiri- tual bent; they are executive producers of a documentary about the Tenzin Gyatso Scholars Program. This program, which spon- sors Tibetan monastics to study neuroscience, biology, physics, and the social sciences in the United States, is a project of the Tenzin Gyatso Institute. Founded in 2007 by Sogyal Rinpoche, the institute strives to advance the Dalai Lama’s vision and val- ues, and the Scholars Program goes right to the heart of this mission. The Dalai Lama has frequently stated that science has enriched his views and that Tibetan religious education would benefit from a thorough understanding of how Western thought and inquiry has developed. At the same time, says Imperioli, “masters meditating in caves thousands of years ago had insights that scientists are only now coming to terms with. The interrelation between physical science and Buddhism could help our view of the world.” When Imperioli tells me this, I think again of the characters in Hungry Ghosts and their search for meaning and happiness. In particular, I think of Gus and his raging question: “How can a path that is all about improving the self be about selflessness?” I ask Imperioli how he’d answer that. “Gus is seeing that it’s all about the self,” says Imperioli. “He failed to make the leap toward making it really be about compas- sion and that’s where he was limited.” Compassion and the importance of it is what Imperioli wants to leave his viewers with. “Compassion and the possibility of transformation,” he says. “You can wake up.” I smile into the phone. Michael Imperioli’s voice sounds just like Christopher Moltisanti’s, but his words don’t. Not at all. ♦