Samsara Starring Christie Cheung

This is a beautiful, thought-provoking movie set in the harsh and remote alpine desert of Ladakh, India. Young Tibetan Buddhist monk Tashi (Shawn Ku) did the impossible. He meditated in isolation for three years. With his body in deep sleep, his nails had grown several inches, his hair was flowing everywhere. His barely alive body was brought out of the sanctuary. His head was shaved again. His body was washed. He was dressed in a monk’s robes. His was fed and slowly massaged back to life. Owing to the length of his “hibernation”, it took the monks from his monastery quite a while to revive him. For his incredible feat, he received accolades at the monastery, but in spite of all that, Tashi’s sexual urges remained as strong as ever.

While on a trip, Tashi and his group of monks stayed overnight at a village. A young lady by the name of Pema (Christy Chung) came to his bedside and comforted him. Frustrated with his vow of celibacy, he confronted his teacher and questioned if the Buddha himself could have attained Enlightenment if he had not had a taste of worldlly pleasures. He was brought to the monastery since he was 5. He did not start life as a prince. Unlike the Buddha, he did not even know what he was renouncing.

Unable to receive any satisfactory answers, he disrobed (literally with his back to the camera) and went in search of Pema. Residing as a new worker in her village, he wasted no time in getting friendly. Tashi and Pema made love in the woods. The entire village knew about it. Pema’s fiance Jamyang beat him up but later forgave them. Tashi and Pema were married. One last sex scene and Pema was pregnant. Tashi turned out to be a shrewd and responsible householder. His family became happy and prosperous. That’s when Tashi got horny again. While Pema was out with their son, he had a fling with an Indian girl (Neelesha BaVora). The sex was kinky and potentially dangerous – to say the least. Don’t try it at home.

Like all movies and documentaries featuring a Tibetan landscape, the scenery and cinematography were amazing. The remote monasteries were so surreal and captivating. Those watching this movie for its sex scenes may be disappointed as there aren’t that many of them here. However, the actors had obviously conditioned their bodies and maintained top form throughout the show. I’m just curious how a virgin monk like Tashi could be such an accomplished lover in the woods.

The ending is somewhat expected, but I find it a little illogical. The writer could have at least turned his wife into some bitching monster. Perhaps, we can then see his reasons for renouncing his family. It’s also not properly explained how he managed his sexual urges from then on.

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