Paths of the Soul

China submitted "Kang rinpoche" (English captions) to the 2016 Seattle International Film Festival. It is exactly this sort of experience that prompts people to attend film festivals: we get to see behaviors, customs, locales, and ceremonies we otherwise would never see. Our press screening audience appreciated this involving docu-drama which followed a group of Tibetans on a "bowing pilgrimage" to Lhasa (their holy city). Director Zhang Yang had his valiant filming crew trek along with our pilgrims, braving every kind of hardship on their journey.

A "bowing pilgrimage" entails a slab of wood held in each hand, which enables the devotee (who is protected by a leather blacksmith-type apron) to bend over, slide the wood on the ground until he or she is prone, touch his or her forehead to the earth, then get up, walk a few steps and repeat the process... For days. For weeks. For months! Kilometer after kilometer! The act of bowing is called "kow-towing." (Sound familiar? ...smile...)

We saw:
  • Astonishing scenery: mountains, rivers, valleys, farmlands, villages, and that legendary monastery!
  • A pregnant woman gets permission from her village to go along, gives birth on the road and schleps her wee one on her back for the remainder of the trip AND she continues her bowing!
  • A spunky little girl is sent by her grandmother. She is game for everything but I noticed that she wears Crocs and talks to Grandma on a cell phone.
  • That sturdy little tractor that hauls their tents, stove, supplies, dry clothes, etc., is indispensable!
  • Tibetans along the way were uniformly hospitable, inviting our intrepid group for tea and overnight accommodations.
We agreed that we all learned a LOT from this one! You will, too.