Film Summary

“Only when you yourself know, from your own experience, will you truly know?” said the Buddha. 

“In search of Nirvana” is a film about people who are energetically following this advice and practicing to find truth for themselves. This is the story of a journey into the spiritual landscape that is within each human being. It is a deep yet practical window into the inner world of mind and body that is common to all of us, but which so few of us ever fully explore and understand.

In the west we have respected institutions of “higher learning” yet we know little about the respected institutions of “ inner learning” that exist in the east. This film visits some of those places and speaks with some of the people who live there as it traces the narrative of a Canadian photographer who spends five years in SE Asia learning Buddhist meditation. It is a documentary film about a living Buddhist tradition, the Theravada, or, “Way of the elders” which continues to transmit the eternal and vital truths taught by the Buddha 2500 years ago. A film by meditators about meditation reviewed by monks and sent onward to those with interest into what this form of Buddhist meditation is all about. 

What is wisdom? What is insight? What do meditators talk about with each other? What kind of lessons do meditation teachers prepare for their students? Here, set in forests and monasteries, we will see rare footage from inside a reclusive world of practiced wisdom. We will get a glimpse of those who have a deep understanding of nature, called here “dhamma”, and its essential truths.  From their own firsthand experience teachers gently guide their students to observe their lives “ as they really are”. They talk about the liberating mental state “mindfulness” and how it is more than just attention. A state which holds no “assumptions” or “expectations” yet which is capable of perceiving “everything” at once.

An aged teacher discusses the “vehicles of our delusion”. A Canadian monk portrays his experience of the respected role of theravadin Buddhist monkshood in Asia and in his life. A Canadian nun talks about the huge personal benefits and the tricky pitfalls of intensive meditation practice, and a Sri Lankan Buddhist master generously shares an experience from his own early meditation to demonstrate how even levels of inner freedom can require testing to find if they are permanent or transient.           

What exactly is enlightenment?  The state called “Nirvana” is explored.           

With beautiful imagery and a meditative soundtrack the film fulfills a duel purpose: first, to present practical meditative information that can be heard with growing interest in viewing after viewing. And, secondly, to help a mindful audience to concentrate and meditate throughout. It aims to blend visuals, sound, and voice, not to distract us, but to lead us inward.     

Running time: 54 minutes

In search of Nirvana, John F Preston

copyright 2010–2023 John F. Preston, Cortes Island, British Columbia