‘Requiem For A Faith’ (1973)

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

The documentary film ‘Requiem for a Faith: Tibetan Buddhism’ (1973), mostly shot in Dalhousie in the late 1960s, presents Huston Smith’s view of the traditional Tibetan religious, cultural, and social practices he witnessed among the exiles in India.

Peter Bishop wrote about this film:

“Professor Huston Smith in his classic 1974 film on Tibetan Buddhism—Requiem for a Faith—commented that ‘Tibet is more than a land, it is a religion’. He continued by saying that Tibet ‘is a land so close to the sky that the natural inclination of her people is to pray’. This beautiful image should not blind us to the relationship between religion and landscape which is being expressed. At first it seems to be such an obvious connection as to be somehow an empirical fact. But this is not the case. It is part of the play of the imagination. To associate prayer, altitude and sky in such a way reveals much about the image of sacred places in the Judaeo-Christian tradition and in the imaginative milieu of the West in the second half of the twentieth century. Above all, such a connection between geography and religion has been a consistent theme in Western fantasies about Tibetan Buddhism.” (Dreams of Power: Tibetan Buddhism and the Western Imagination, 1993, p. 28).

About the author

Rob Hogendoorn

Investigative reporter and academic researcher Rob Hogendoorn (b. 1964) began researching the reception of Buddhism in Western society and culture in the early 1990s. His modus operandi remained the same ever since: independent, inquisitive and provocative.