The Rubin Vultures of Tibet
2013, USA, Russell O. Bush, 21 min.
Vultures of Tibet explores the recent commercialization of a sacred Tibetan funeral tradition known as Sky Burial. In Sky Burial, Tibetans ritually feed the bodies of their dead to wild Griffon Vultures as an offering to benefit other living beings.
With the modernization of Western China and the expansion of tourism in Tibet, burial sites are now highlighted on tourist maps and local officials charge visitors admission to view the private ritual. Against the will of affected families, visitors take photos and video, often posting them online. Filmed in August, 2011, when regional tensions became so unbearable that scores of Tibetans began setting themselves on fire; Vultures of Tibet reveals the current state of Sky Burial as an anecdote of the larger ideological issues in Tibet today.
Exposing a world in which nature and culture, humans and animals, spirituality and politics are all interconnected, Vultures of Tibet engages audiences with the potential for oppression in the act of looking.
About the Speaker
Mitchell M. Levy MD is Chief, Division of Critical Care, Pulmonary, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, where he is Professor of Medicine. Dr. Levy has studied Buddhism since 1971, first as a student of the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and currently as a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. In 1978 he was appointed personal physician to Trungpa Rinpoche. He also served as personal physician to His Holiness, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. He was appointed an Acharya, or senior teacher, in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage in 2004.
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