Seeking Inner Peace, Compassion and Wisdom
The Start of Our Asian Journey
Johanna and Deane Shapiro
The attached is a 10 minute movie snippet that we originally made in 1970 at the start of our trip to Japan. Our goal was to visit a Zen Monastery, Daitoku-ji, in Kyoto, as part of a spiritual quest for inner peace, and then to continue to Pondicherry, India, to stay at Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram.
After we were married, Deane left by ship to Japan, while Johanna made arrangements to complete her courses through independent study and flew over a week later. On the ship, Deame met Masaru Ibuka, the President of Sony, who suggested they buy a movie camera (from Sony, at a discount!) and make a movie of their adventures. We did buy a camera, shot some footage and wrote a draft overview script (see paragraph below in italics).
The grand vision was two people (who may or may not have known each other before the start of the movie) traveling East and West. One (the man) goes to India (via Japan) to find inner peace in a Buddhist monastery. The other (the woman) goes to Israel looking for social justice. They continue their journeys and meet (or re-meet) in India, where they also find love!!
Yes, we now realize the words “chutzpah” and naivete could well be applied to this project! We had never made a movie, taken a film class, written a movie script! But hey, when you’re young and in love…?!!
In Japan, we started filming the movie beginning in a Buddhist Monastery, and also of the Buddha in Kamakura. But this was also the time of the Vietnam War, and there were protests in Japan about the Vietnam War and US bases in Okinawa. We decided that part of the movie needed to include the male protagonist having to face and try to reconcile issues of war and the pursuit of outer peace (social justice) with Buddhist principles of centeredness and non-attachment.
We shot some film in Japan (Johanna was the camera crew, sound person, director and Deane the actor). You’ll see the male character (wearing an orange hat–there wasn’t a large budget for costume and wardrobeJ) flitting in and out—reaching toward Buddha, in the protests, at the monastery.
We took video and audio of three different activities: Japanese protests against the Vietnam war, and against the US/Japanese security treaty (and US bases in Okinawa) ANPO—a seeking of “outer “peace. Separately, we recorded some of the protest chants and songs. We also filmed some images of the Buddha at Kamakura and of rail commuters. We were trying to figure out how or if we could “fit” into society without getting depersonalized and squashed!
We met a French film producer while in Japan who helped us find a lab to develop the footage. Then it sat in a box of memorabilia for 50 years until we re-found t while cleaning out the garage.
In 2023 we edited these three snippets into a whole, after having the audio tape and flags, helmets, and signs at the protest translated. There was about an hour and half of footage. We quicky realized now (as then) that movie making was not going to be our path! However, our interest was piqued, and we decided to edit this ancient footage as coherently and creatively as we could. It was an interesting effort. And the themes of how to fit into society, how to find inner peace, how to stand up for social justice are timeless and universal ones that we continue to wrestle with.
The vision – inner and outer peace—remains; (as does the love).
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