Larry Rosenberg: Meditation in Action
There’s a consciousness revolution happening in America today – an explosion of meditation practice or “mindfulness” that’s being applied to virtually every aspect of living. How did this remarkable circumstance come about? And who is one of the persons most responsible for having introduced ancient Buddhist meditation to our modern Western world?
Meditation in Action tells the story of 83-year-old teacher/author Larry Rosenberg’s epic quest for self-discovery and how it gave rise to the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, one of the most vibrant meditation practice communities in North America. Founded by Larry in 1985, CIMC became a pioneering urban-based refuge devoted to applying the contemplative practice of insight meditation to the challenging energies and complexities of daily existence in a troubled world. (Known as vipassana – meaning, to see things as they truly are — this form of meditation has been practiced for over 2500 years.)
The film’s dynamic portrait of Larry also offers an insightful account of how Buddhist teachings and practice have come to the West in recent decades, creating the mindfulness transformation that’s now having such a pervasive beneficial effect in American life.
With unique humor and exquisite penetration, Larry describes his unusual personal journey; from humble Jewish beginnings in Brooklyn, through post-WWII Army years in occupied Germany, to a successful career in the prestigious academic world as a PhD professor in social psychology. But, during the counter-culture years, success did not prevent his eventual departure from the academy for a voyage to better know himself and discover inner-peace.
Larry recounts his many-year intensive search for meaning with several spiritual masters and in diverse monasteries and retreat centers across Asia and America. As self-insight grew ever more clear through his dedicated practice of meditation, Larry became convinced that Americans needed a non-residential contemplative urban center for lay practitioners, where Buddhist meditation would be offered to help people effectively face the challenge of relationships in the midst of chaotic daily life. And in 1985, the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center was born.
Through Larry’s dedication, CIMC became an open, secular setting to discover that — by looking within — contemplation and action can effectively be brought together. We witness compelling scenes as Larry counsels practitioners who suffer anxiety and confusion from a spectrum of contemporary dilemmas; the personal (jobs, families, relationships…) to the cosmic (greed, violence, environmental destruction…).
And as we watch Larry’s dynamic emotional and intellectual encounters with students — we come to understand how vipassana meditation truly works and why Larry is recognized as one of the world’s most revered insight meditation teachers. Larry reflects on the more than 40 years he’s been sharing the Buddha’s wisdom about suffering and the end of suffering, to help countless people on their individual paths to self-discovery, inner-peace and liberation.
MARTY OSTROW has been a producer, writer and director for public, commercial and cable television for more than 25 years. His most recent work is the groundbreaking 90-minute documentary, RENEWAL, the first film to tell the stories of America’s growing religious-environmental movement. The award winning film is being widely used across the country to inspire grassroots environmental action among diverse religious communities.
Marty’s other award-winning films include the acclaimed 90-minute documentary “America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference,” for the PBS series The American Experience. He received the Writers Guild Annual Outstanding Achievement Award as well as an Emmy Nomination for writing this show.
In addition to history, Marty has made many films about science, for NOVA, PBS’s Discover the World of Science, and the Discovery Channel. He was the producer of two hours in the trailblazing documentary series Race to Save the Planet, the first large-scale PBS effort to bring environmental issues to national consciousness.
Marty’s work is known for the intimate portrait style he brings to his subjects. During eight seasons, he produced a series of more than thirty short films on the arts for the WGBH series Greater Boston Arts and Art Close Up. Three of these films received Emmy Awards while many others were nominated. Marty’s films have been seen in festivals around the world.