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Remembering Master Jing Hui, the monk who changed many lives

Remembering Master Jing Hui, the monk who changed many lives

June 17, 2016 / New Delhi/ Beijing(China)/–

I have always had an interest in Buddhism. But I’ve often questioned whether it is a religion or a philosophy. The practise seems almost religious, but on the other hand, Buddhism promotes an inner calm, peace, and acceptance towards things which are beyond one’s control.  There is also a lack of ‘preaching’ within Buddhism, instead self-awareness, acceptance, forgiveness, respect, and thankfulness is encouraged. Probably deep down I actually see Buddhism as a philosophy of life rather than a religion, although perhaps practising Buddhists would disagree with me.

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So this brings me on to Master Jing Hui.  This name is of great significance within the Buddhist world. Master Jing Hui was born in 1933 and was actually raised in a Monastery. He became a fully ordained monk at the tender age of 18 and by 19 years old he was accepted as a disciple of Xu Yun, which entitled him to the title of Zen Master.

I recently watched a tribute documentary in honour of this great man. I found the film on BON Cloud, an online platform that promotes Chinese short films and raw footage of all things of interest in China. It’s an online platform derived from the popular Chinese TV channel, BON TV.  It’s a great way for people who do not have TV access in China to keep up with things of interest in the country.

In 2009 Willigis Junger , director of the Benediktushof Zen Center, was anointed as a disciple of Master Jing Hui.
In 2009 Willigis Junger , director of the Benediktushof Zen Center, was anointed as a disciple of Master Jing Hui.Image: Bon Cloud

The first thing that grabbed me about the film was the opening scene, showing a world famous musician playing the piano in tribute to Jing Hui. The memorial ceremony was held in China and a German Pianist, Torsten Reitz, travelled several 1000 miles to attend the ceremony and paid his respects through his music.  The audience was full of men and women in traditional Monk robes, many of which were famous Chinese Buddhist Monks.

Torsten Reitz performed two famous pieces of music in honour of this great man. I was surprised to discover that Master Jing Hui also had many disciples across Europe and Germany. The film intrigued me right from the start, because I didn’t fully appreciate the impact that Jing Hui had made on 1000’s of people, not only in China but across the world.

The film features an English speaking narrator and provides subtitles too. I really liked this method. I am a script writer and film producer myself, so I pay close attention to these types of details when I watch anything. I’m quite fickle when I watch a film, documentary or footage. If it doesn’t catch my attention in 30 seconds or so, I turn it off. However, this documentary did quite well to hold my attention and suit my professional, critical eye!

The documentary throws much light on parts of Jing Hui’s life, but personally I would have liked to know a little more.  He lived a fascinating life and he brought a lot of recognition to Buddhism during his lifetime and it would have been good to see more of it.

Willigis Junger , director of the Benediktushof Zen Center, was anointed as a disciple of Master Jing Hui in 2009
Bernd Groschupp from Benediktushof Zen Center meets Master Jing Hui. Image: Bon Cloud

Also, I think the film could have been slightly better if the viewer had seen a little more of the ceremony itself, but understandably it’s quite difficult to put a lot of visuals in a short film.  In my opinion, the filming techniques were flawless. Clear and concise visuals and audio are important to hold the viewers’ attention, especially if the documentary is on a subject not so familiar to you.

My favourite part of the documentary was where the other Monks discuss some of the aspects of what being a Monk is all about. Becoming a Monk is not about escaping the world and its problems, but embracing a whole new set of obligations. I have always wondered what a Monk does apart from meditation and the basic standards of living that are common knowledge. So, I enjoyed hearing about other aspects of their life and what Buddhism truly means to the disciples.

The background score is really good and has been performed by the same Pianist whose performance opens the movie. To be honest, the ending of the film was a bit. It stops suddenly instead of winding down slowly, although the narration ends on a good note. I was also surprised to see no credits at the end. Of course this is not always necessary, but as a fellow film maker and scriptwriter, I would’ve liked to see some credits.

The film also showcased a few photographs and a video footage, all done with ease. After watching the video, I felt like I wanted to know more about Jing Hui as the film raised my curiosity. I did a bit of my own research to learn something more about him.

All in all, I would definitely recommend watching this documentary, regardless of whether you have an interest in Buddhism, Jing Hui himself or China. Definitely worth three and a half minutes of anyone’s time in my opinion.

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