Ah, Buddhism. A beautiful religion that so many of us have heard of without furthering our awareness.
This Indian religion grew from the early years of Hinduism (known as the Brahmin culture) and started to travel to various countries including Thailand, Korea, Tibet, and Japan in 500 BCE.
Nowadays, it is seen in most parts of the world in varying degrees of popularity.
The real question is this — how can we further our Buddhist knowledge? How can we dive into this peaceful religion and figure out whether it’s everything we’ve been searching for?
The answer, among other things, is watching Buddhist documentaries. From Yogis of Tibet: A Film for Posterity, to Unmistaken Child, to The Message of the Tibetans, there are so many readily available for you to build your knowledge and let go of any ignorance.
We have compiled a list of the 12 best Tibetan Buddhist documentaries that are available on YouTube and Netflix right now.
Within each one, you’ll discover nuggets of information about how Buddhists control their minds and bodies, how they use meditation to promote wellbeing, and so much more.
So, what are you waiting for? Discover the wonderful world of Buddhism now!
List of 12 Tibetan Buddhist documentaries you can watch right now on Netflix or YouTube:
#1 Yogis of Tibet: A Film for Posterity (2002, Netflix)
This Buddhist documentary film follows the lives and practices of Yogis in Tibet, people who have spent their lives in secret and rigorous training in order to gain the capacity to exert control over their minds and bodies.
In addition, in ”Yogis of Tibet,” several yogis discuss teachings passed down through the generations about controlling the mind, meditation, and rising above the physical plane of existence.
#2 The Tibetan Book of the Dead (1994, Netflix)
Narrated by Leonard Cohen, this enlightening two-part documentary explores the sacred text and boldly envisions the afterlife (Bardo) according to its profound wisdom.
The 1st part of the documentary deals with the liturgies and rites performed by Buddhist monks for a recently deceased elder in the province of Ladakh in northern India.
The 2nd part follows an elderly priest and his student as they guide the soul of a man into the afterlife.
#3 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama (Netflix)
It is a 2006 documentary film in which filmmaker Rick Ray meets with Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, at his monastery in Dharamsala, India.
The producer asks him 10 questions during the course of the interview which is inter-cut with a biography of Tenzin Gyatso and a chronicle of Ray’s journey securing the interview.
#4 Unmistaken Child (2008, Netflix)
Filmmaker Nati Baratz follows the spellbinding journey of Tibetan Buddhist monk Tenzin Zopa as he travels to find the child who is the reincarnation of Lama Konchog, his deceased master.
#5 Wheel of Time (2003, YouTube)
Every year, numerous Buddhist pilgrims travel to the village of Bhod Gaya in India (the place where Prince Siddhartha Gautama was practicing his meditation beneath the Bodhi Tree) to take part in the Kalachakra Initiation, a 12-day process in which Tibetan Buddhist monks are ordained.
This documentary is a spiritual blessing for Buddhists and anyone else fortunate to experience it.
In addition, the producer also includes a personal interview with Tibetan former political prisoner Takna Jigme Zangpo, who served 37 years in a Chinese prison for his support of the International Tibet Independence Movement as well as with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
#6 The Message of the Tibetans (1964, YouTube)
In 1964, Arnaud Desjardins, a French filmmaker, gained access to the Tibetan community in exile, in the first filming of their culture and life (including music, food, medicine, architecture, art, yoga, religion, meditation, and spiritual practice) allowed by the Dalai Lama since going into exile.
”Of all the sages, whether Hindu, Muslim Sufi, or Buddhist he is the most impressive sage with whom I have had the privilege to stay with,” Arnaud Desjardins said in the documentary about Dalai Lama.
#7 Gnosis, The Spirit of Tibet – A Journey to Enlightenment (YouTube)
This documentary is an authentic portrait of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, a Vajrayana master, poet, teacher, scholar, and head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism from 1987 to 1991. He was a perfect example of a Ri-me master.
His inner journey led him to an extraordinary depth of knowledge and enabled him to be, for all who met him, a fountain of wisdom and loving-kindness.
#8 Tenzin Palmo – Cave in the Snow (2002, Youtube)
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, the 2nd Westerner to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist nun, is a bhikṣuṇī in the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is also an author, founder, and teacher of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, India.
In 1976, Jetsunma secluded herself in a remote cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas, where she stayed for more than a decade, between the ages of 33 and 45.
In this mountain hideaway, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo faced wild animals, cold, snow, floods, and rockfalls. In addition, she slept in a traditional wooden meditation box (3 feet square) and grew her own food.
In 1988, she left the cave with a plan to build a convent in northern India to revive a long-forgotten female spiritual elite – the Togdenma lineage.
READ MORE: Interesting Facts About Buddhism
#9 Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion (2002, Netflix)
It is an extraordinary documentary about the near-destruction of an enlightened 1,700-year-old culture and the spiritual survival of hope in the hearts of those who believe that one day they will be able to re-taste the joys of freedom.
In 2003, the documentary won the “Audience Award for Best Documentary” at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
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#10 Tantra of Gyuto – Sacred Rituals of Tibet (1968, YouTube)
It is a 50-minute feature documenting the 1974 London public performance of tantric rituals by a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Gyuto monastery.
Monks of the Gyuto Tantric College perform sacred Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies in a style of chanting that expresses the ecstasy of true meditation.
They are known for their tradition of overtone singing, which is said to have been transmitted by their founder.
READ MORE: 23 Best Inspirational Documentaries
#11 The Blue Buddha: Lost Secrets of Tibetan Medicine (2005, YouTube)
The documentary focuses on the life of a doctor and Buddhist monk who practices traditional Tibetan medicine in Siberia.
If you know other Tibetan Buddhist documentaries available on YouTube or Netflix, let us know in the commentaries down below.
#12 The Dharamsala Diary: Exploring Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy (2019, YouTube)
It explores the ancient culture and wisdom of Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy
Featured image credit – Shutterstock
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