Art of Living in Kungfu Panda


‘Kungfu Panda’ taught me one of the most important lessons: “There IS no secret ingredient. It’s just you!” Po, the Panda, through whose journey we learn many spiritual lessons, reveals this to Tai Lung. Throughout our life we seek to be special, someone different, someone with the ingredient so secret that no one knows about.

Thankfully Panda is given this insight on a platter by his father, Mr Ping: “To make something special you just have to BELIEVE it is special!”

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji has often said, “Know that you are precious. Each one of you is unique and loved by the Divine.” These words are too starkly simple for one to realize and accept the profound truth in it.

Master Oogway, the wise turtle, emphasizes the importance of belief in his final parting lesson to Shifu: “You must now continue your journey without me. You must BELIEVE!” What we believe is what will manifest. This is also the essence of the beautiful Indian scripture, Yoga Vasistha.

Much earlier in this animated movie, when Oogway pronounces the bumbling Panda, as the coveted ‘Dragon Warrior’, the Furious Five – the Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper and Crane are distraught and shaken.  And after a series of gaffes by Po, trainer Shifu argues with the Master that it was a mere coincidence for the Panda to land at that opportune moment of the declaration of the Dragon Warrior. Oogway simply says, “There are no accidents!”

This took me back to what Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji’s words, “Accept people and situations as they are.” How often do we resist that which does not add up or logically seems wrong. Few have the wisdom to reflect later and realize that logic did not open doors for them but kept them bound. The parallels between Kungfu Panda and spiritual mantras of Art of Living are many.

Another valuable lesson that Oogway teaches Po is: “One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.” This is  a part of Art of Living’s aphorism, “Whatever you resist will persist.” Po dreams of being a kungfu warrior but seeing the Furious Five and himself, he does not believe he is cut out to be one even after being pronounced the Dragon Warrior. But his destiny was different and more rewarding than he could have expected. Accepting whatever we resist may lead us to miracles we never expected.

Then there is amazing conversation between Master Oogway and Trainer Shifu that I can’t resist reproducing:

Oogway: My friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours until you let go of the illusion of control.
Shifu: Illusion?
Oogway: Yes.  Look at this tree, Shifu: I cannot make it blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time.
Shifu: But there are things we *can* control: I can control when the fruit will fall, I can control where to plant the seed: that is no illusion, Master!
Oogway: Ah, yes. But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.

Here, there are two valuable lessons. The first lesson is very obviously the delusion which we have of being able to control the events or people in our lives. Oogway points out that until we let go of this illusion, what is meant to happen may never happen. And second is the lesson of karma. Innumerable times we do things unto others we would not like done unto us. That is the time of awareness.

A film is a thing of pleasure, a film with a message is much beyond.

Posted by Neema Kamdar who would rather describe and BELIEVE herself to be a devotee than anything else…

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Neema Kamdar


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  1. Watched Kungfu Panda after reading this review and enjoyed it at a different dimension altogether. Thank you Neema ji for such profound insights.

  2. This is really nice and so true….wonderful insight to the parallels…am sure one will enjoy seeing the movie again keeping this in mind. thanks

  3. had a few glimpse of wat u said while watching the movi but lost it … i find it more deep rooted n its really great to read it……all the very best for future post. Keep writing.jgd

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