Sunday, June 19, 2011

High Plains Dhamma

Who’d of thought that a Clint Eastwood movie would provide an excellent medium for teaching and exemplifying Right Livelihood and the consequences of Wrong Livelihood? It was probably not Eastwood’s intention when he made “High Plains Drifter,” but while watching the movie last night it struck me as excellently portraying what happens when we even tangentially are associated with Wrong Livelihood.

Consider the story line.

Operators of a mining company contract the murder of law enforcement official who discovers the mine lacks the proper permit for being located on federal land. Those hired to commit the murder are later framed as thieves to be sent off to prison.

While the original murder was fashioned by those directly affiliated with the mining company, everyone else in the town silently accepts it because their livelihood is dependent on the town continuing to thrive. Everyone from the barber to the storekeeper and saloonkeeper, even the church minister know that if the mine is closed, the town disappears, and so does their own livelihood.

As a result, the townspeople are suspicious of everyone and of each other. They blame “the stranger” for causing them to turn against one another, but it is their own doing. They’ve created their own Hell, which is so aptly shown when “the stranger,” Clint Eastwood, has them paint the entire town red and he rename’s the town.

Even a “proper” job or profession can be an example of Wrong Livelihood if one knowingly and willingly allows his or her income stream to be connected with another’s Wrong Livelihood. Folks can escape this, however: this is also shown in the movie with the innkeeper’s wife realizing and voicing her own doubts and desire to remove herself from all connections with the town’s kamma. It’s not a painless extraction, but it can be done.

If you’ve never watched the movie, I urge you to do so. And even if you have, do it again, but this time with your Dhamma eyes watching.

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