The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday January 27th

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Q&A: Christina Lundberg

Christina Lundberg has been making documentary films about Buddhism for more than 20 years.

Her latest film, “For the Benefit of All Beings,” follows the life of Tibetan Buddhist teacher Garchen Rinpoche, who is Lundberg’s teacher.

The film will be screened at the Carrboro ArtsCenter on Friday.
Rinpoche was imprisoned in 1959 for defending Tibet, Buddism and the Dalai Lama during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. While in prison, he met his main teacher, Khenpo Munsel, and underwent a spiritual transformation.

He came to the U.S. in the 1990s and has worked to spread the Buddhist doctrine.

Staff writer Caroline Pate spoke with Lundberg about the film and her inspiration for it.

Daily Tar Heel: Tell me about “For the Benefit of All Beings.”

Christina Lundberg: It’s about transforming hardships into love, forgiveness, compassion. He truly is an embodiment of unconditional love. He treats everyone on the planet the same. He embraces everyone with the same love and respect.

DTH: Why did you decide to document Garchen Rinpoche?

CL: There have been countless students of his around the world asking for a movie to be made about his life. He finally relented and asked me to do it.

I’ve been making movies for 20 years and it was a good fit. There was a grassroots fundraising effort from his supporters all around the country — even from people who have never met him.

DTH: What charity will the screening benefit?

CL: Proceeds will go to the Garchen Institute, a main Buddhist center in Arizona. It’s called the “Garchen Institute Endowment Fund.”

Basically, the fund has been set up to make sure the center is always there and is a place to have authentic Buddhist teachings. There are not many places like that in the west. It is important that these places exist in the west.

DTH: How did you become Garchen Rinpoche’s student?

CL: I was already a Buddhist when I met him in ‘96 in Nepal. I met the Dalai Lama in 1990 and that’s when I became a Buddhist.
I was already a filmmaker at that time, and it set me on a path of making Buddhist films for 20 years. It was like meeting an old teacher — I know he was my teacher in a past life.

DTH: How was working on the film as his student?

CL: That was full of blessings and challenging, as it is always for working for such a master. The definition of a master as they work with their students is to dismantle their egos to embrace unconditional love, so that was challenging. There were plenty of challenges involved, there are plenty of problems with a low budget project anyways, but the blessings were just beyond.

DTH: What message do you want the film to send to audiences?

CL: His life story can inspire everyone to be the best of what it means to be human. When things are difficult, his story of enduring as much hardship and suffering as he did and coming out a shining light for all people is just so inspiring.

DTH: Why did you decide to become a documentary filmmaker?

CL: Well, I’m an artist and I was really attracted to film because it combines not just visuals but sound and movement and it was the closest medium to reality. I want to help bring inspiration and transformation to people.

DTH: What will be your next project?

CL: Oh, there are some film ideas I’m cooking. For now I’m taking a little break. I know the next project won’t be a documentary— it will be a narrative film.

Check out the screening Friday at the Carrboro ArtsCenter at 7 p.m. See artscenterlive.org for details.

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