Light at the Edge of the World: Science of the Mind

Light at the Edge of the World: Science of the Mind

2007, Religion  -   41 Comments
Ratings: 8.33/10 from 33 users.

Light at the Edge of the World: Science of the MindThere’s something about the inherent tolerance of Buddhism that is inherently attractive. It's totally non-judgmental.

There's no notion of sin, there's no notion of good and evil, there's only ignorance and suffering. And this is the most important thing, it places all emphasis on compassion; you do not embrace negativity.

Buddhism asks the fundamental question: What is life and what is the point of existence?

Wade Davis goes on an anthropological and spiritual journey into the Himalayas of Nepal to learn the deepest lesson of Buddhist practice.

Parts of this documentary feature H.H.Trulshik Rinpoche and Matthieu Ricard.

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41 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Sequoia John

    Very accessible for a novice like myself. A great introduction.

  2. Alexander Bogossian

    This is because women cannot achieve enlightenment. Would saying: "men cannot have babies" be grounded in some sort of injustice too? it's not intolerance but rather accuracy. Also, women cannot be effective leaders and should defer to men when important decisions are to be made (whenever possible). Female psychology, All the postmodern talk of equality, inclusivity etc -all the **** that sounds pleasant and kind at face value is starting to come back to bite society in the ass. it'll keep getting worse for the next 5-10 years, at which point the oft overzealous and overcorrecting pendulum that so models societal paradigms will swing back in the other direction.

    1. JJ

      Ironic you say this since modern men are keenly focused on the path of fire.

  3. Mandy

    Very few branches of buddhism (maybe just one) believe that women can achieve enlightenment. This is a huge judgement embedded in the foundation of the belief system that affects 50% or more of all of humanity. I'd say this limits the concept of buddhism being tolerant quite drastically.

  4. Grace

    Why are the Buddhist killing the muslims????

  5. Paul Cotti

    Beautiful and emotional music. Although there is no CD available, can any of the tracks available elsewhere?

  6. Nancy Vail

    I really liked this but I had trouble with the videos and couldn't watch it through

  7. Henry

    Where can i get the video CDs for this title: Light at the Edge of the World: Science of the Mind by wade davis

  8. Sarmoun Darq

    I wish the "inherent tolerance of Buddhism" mentioned in the preamble, was totally true. Unfortunately it is not, just ask the Rhohinga! As they have suffered intolerance, violence, persecution by buddhists.

    1. Frank

      There are ignorant and confused people in all religions. I'm sure those in Burma who can only claim Buddhism on geography and family, and not through practice, know they've created a karmic hell for themselves.

  9. Lekhraj Sharma

    Beautiful...just watching it brings out gratitude towards all who have selflessley pursued the true happiness to make all happy...true compassion.

  10. graham gunn

    I really enjoyed this doc thank you!

  11. Giacomo della Svezia

    I think the path to wisdom becomes irresistable to everyone eventually. Nice introduction to buddhism for those who know nothing about it yet.
    I entirely agree with Wade Davis that buddhism is very attractive. It's not a religion, nor a cult, nor has it anything to do with New Age. It is a very practical way to find wisdom (or enlightenment) and it is very wise in itself. It is not the only path, but that does not matter, for all paths to wisdom lead into one.

    I'd like to say this to blue seven:
    You're not only made up of opposites (that sounds like you're thinking dualistic), the human mind is made up of maybe innumerable facets, which are all reflections of one's true nature, like all humans are probably facets of one true nature.
    I think intuition is nothing more than an unconscious form of logic thinking. Cold intellect almost does not exist: most of our so-called logic thinking is imbued by our feelings, therefore so does our intuition. But logic thinking in the end pays off by producing wisdom. You can probably speed up this process if you can get control over your thoughts and feelings, and meditation sounds like an excellent means to achieve this.

  12. blue seven

    I've run with lots of tribes and lots of different schools and for me, at 49 years, Buddhism, or a mix of Buddhism and every other bit of wisdom i've stolen from wherever i can find it, seems the most practical and real way to understand my nature. After all, defining who we are is what it's all about.

    It's not as easy as it sounds, defining who you are, but it is the foundation of all self knowledge. If you don't know your nature, you can't be NATURAL. And natural just feels better to me.

    And i agree with another post here. Science is finally admitting that a lot of good wisdom has been had for a loooooooong time already.

    Compassion = Good for the brain

    We are all connected = String Theory

    Everything is energy/one thought/one bit of consciousness/time doesn't exist = Einstein's E=MC2 and other math/physics proofs

    Taking three deep breaths helps calm you down. It's just plain practical. Breathe muthas!


    I just see LOTS of practical wisdom in Buddhism and i don't agree there is no proof there. A lot of people make the intellect their religion, which feels cold to me, i see that as just Western scientific hubris people hide behind until they finally really need to understand their nature. Science has TWO sides. Be careful which side you choose. And Buddhism has two sides too, be careful. BUT if you want to know who you really are, it's not all about the intellect and it's not only about the spirit. It's BOTH. Always both. Sometimes we should listen to one side, then the next day, the other. Don't ever think you are supposed to be only one thing always, it's not natural.

    You can't have intellect without intuition. They are two sides to the same coin. They are both a part of your natural DYNAMIC. You are not one thing only, you are an ever changing dynamic of opposites which can't exist without it's opposites. And in this same way, intellect not balanced by intuition cannot exist, unless you are a psychopath, which is possible. So, quit making law-suits in your head against spiritual thought. Life isn't always rational. That would be boring to boot. The intellect can be your friend but it's also sometimes your worst enemy.

    We have a brain/mind but it's not who we are. YOU are the thing that listens to that brain-chattering-monkey-but which won't stop it's blathering. It's supposed to do that, like a heart is to pump blood. BUT the heart sends more information to the brain then the brain sends to the heart. So, who's exactly in charge? The one in charge is the thing that is above all that, listening to your heart and your mind then making the CHOICE, and it has no name, and if you can't see that then maybe you need to quit spending all your days playing video games, shooting people dead all day, watching the latest tech blog for the next cool soldier's uniform.

    I'll take meditation over kill games any day. And Buddhist minds are not a bad place to start. And in my silly little way, like my sister meditating in the cabin on the mountain, i send this all out in meditation hoping for the happiness of all sentient beings...... YOU!

    Now that i've done my work for today, where's my guitar, i'm gonna rock it!!!

    BOTH, always Both. Why have one when you can have both?

    My 2cents

  13. Che Guebuddha

    At 34 minutes the movie explains some good points :)

  14. Moses Paris

    In a nutshell Zombeism

  15. Tomorrow_Today

    A helpful companion to this documentary is a book by the name of "Change of Heart, The Bodhisattva Peace Training". The book elaborates on the teachings the film touches upon in an impactful way. It includes discourse between teacher and student and provides helpful exercises to incorporate the teachings into everyday life.

  16. Tesla Nikola

    All Pseudo-Science and magic talk. Nonsense.

    1. Matthew Jones

      I guess you must know better.

  17. Cam Gray

    A lovely, enjoyable film, however I didn't see anything new, as it seemed to be more of a buddhism 101.

    Question: they visit a woman who has spent 45 yrs living in solitude praying for compassion and relief from suffering of others. Why didn't she go out and actually help others? Did praying in solitude for 45 yrs relieve any suffering? Wouldn't working for the poor, or destitute for 45 yrs relieve more suffering? Just asking...

    1. stv_docker

      She didn't contribute any suffering, which is kind of the point in the whole 'freedom from karma' thing.

    2. Andrew Wilson

      Cam I can see where you are coming from however the practice does not aim to help them in 'worldly' or external ways. In a sense it is self serving as this practice allows this woman (I am yet to watch the film) develop true loving kindness and open her mind and heart to feel for others and it is with this understanding gained initially that she can then proceed to help them in other ways. One cannot help the suffering without wisdom and understanding

  18. Joedirt

    great doc, thx

  19. Bruce Fowler

    Hi Liberty Blair. A colleague saw your post and mentioned it to me. I wrote the music for the film. There's no soundtrack CD per se but thanks so much for your very kind comments. It was a wonderful series to work on (there were four films in all).

    Bruce Fowler
    Modular Music

  20. Alex

    You bring up a good point. I am not at all a fan of conflating Tibetan culture (or any other) with the fundamental truths revealed by the buddha. The latter are equally accessible to all people at all times, provided that they are willing to question and study themselves through contemplation.
    Human communities need ritual and pageantry for continuity and comfort. But this completely misses the true depth of the message.

    For those interested, I recommend above all the Tripitaka, the earliest collection of doctrines. Study this and forget all bells, whistles, prayer wheels, etc. These are vestiges of pre-buddhist animism in Tibet. They do not help in grasping the dharma.

  21. Randy


    Bhuddism, Hinduism, Zen, and Shinto are far beyond the Western mind. The Great Asian people, (I include India, of course), have been digesting these ideas for thousands of years. When you are born into that culture, you understand it much better than we Europeans...

    What the brilliant Silkop was pointing out, I think, was basically that: that we Westerners, (USA in particular), always mess it up, and it becomes watered down, New Age, claptrap.

    I have great respect for those religions, but, as I studied them, I realized that there was as much cruelty in them as any other. Really, the best way is... no reilgion, at all!

    However, if I HAD to choose, it would be Bhuddism or Shinto...

    (Although, Prince Sidhartha abandoned his wife and child for "enlightenment", so... that I do not forgive... *shrug*)

  22. lallu

    I like Buddhist teachings, but what I do not understand is that what is the need for all those costumes, music, bells, etc. I suppose like other religions Buddhism has also been infected by human desire for power and material wealth.

    1. Andrew Wilson

      This is a commonly asked question. Most of all of these practices (Theravada Buddhism from Burma/india/thailand & cambodia in particular - not so much zen, tibetan and japanese as they are more superstitious began with practical logic - i.e. the monks would wear a brown robe as when they would sleep at night 2600 years ago against a tree they would camoflage against any predators looking for food. I am yet to watch the doco though but I have often asked my teacher similiar questions

    2. Matthew Jones

      The Tibetan Buddhism is mixed-up a little with the regions older religion which was around before the arrival of Mahayana Buddhism. The bells and music aid in meditative practice. Plus there is a lot of pure theatrics, a celebration of life, for the fun of it. So it's a mixture of art, culture, practicality and theatrical celebration. There's no harm in it.

  23. Liberty Blair

    Does anyone know where I can get the beautiful music in the background of this documentary? The credits say "Bruce Fowler" and "Modular Mind" but I can't find anything. Thank you.


  24. Shanti


    ...also new age includes rejection of dogma. Buddhism is not a dogma which is clear for anyone who has read the teachings and know what Buddha Shakyamuni has told people.

    Unfortunately, Americans have mis-categorized Buddhism under new age and sell head of Buddha as candles, and so forth in shops. That would be like selling a huge head of Jesus or "God" as a candle and watch it burn away.

  25. Shanti


    ...and Buddhism is not a dogma, therefore it is not new age. It has been mis-categorized by Americans as such. If you go to Asian countries, you will find that it is not labeled as new age.

  26. Shanti

    Film does a nice job of giving a brief summary of Buddhism. Comments to all the comments above:

    1. The historical Buddha Shakyamuni is not the first Buddha to exist . He is the fourth who has emanated in the form of Prince Siddartha. Siddartha was born in Lumbini which was within the boundaries of India states/kingdoms at that time and is now part of the Nepali border in modern times.

    2. Buddha was enlightened mind (aka nirvana) in Bodhgaya. He reached parinirvana state of mind on his final passing in what is present day Kushinagar.

    3. Silkop: "New age" is a western concept of labeling all that is non Judeo-Christian. To use the term in that context completely is ignorant and disrespects the wisdom of ancient practicies that America, only over 200 years old, is now discovering. Buddhism is not new age. The wisdom and practices go back over 2500 years.

    4. X: This film was not meant to be about Tibetan Buddhism, it was meant to cover the basic points of Buddhist practice on the nature of the mind in a personal presentation. It's not a be all film.

    5. The doctor is not a whacko. Anyone who makes such a statement is clearly not well studied on Tibetan medicine that is very deep and complicated and is very on point. Western doctors are now looking into it. Tibetan doctors have the ability to diagnose the source, causes and conditions of health problems better than western doctors. There are many stories and examples of this. There are western medical doctors, instituations, universities, that listen to lectures by Tiben medical doctors.

    6. To all: science and the mind...check out the work of the Mind and Life Institute where scientists and Buddhism come together. Scientists are now making discoveries of the mind in the late 20th - 21st centuries that have already been known for over 2500 years.

  27. @silkop

    If you dont get the difference between buddism and new age and make such claims that they are in fact the same you are what they call in this film `ignorent`.

    Its a way of life (definition of religion) and if you follow that way you will achieve happiness. Also science proves this (google and 31:00 mins)today. Its fact to all who are not pseudosceptic: meditate and get a bigger brain, more brain brain power, better concentration, more Endorfines = happyness, a better sence of self and perfect control of your brainstates.

    practise and all these things will be yours, be pseudosceptic and you will think for the rest of your life this is not even possible.

    True about the doctor being a little bit of a wacko but hey there is no hope for anybody who dos not follow the rules of Socrates his logic and questioning of authority (guide to happiness on this web page).

  28. Vilya

    Pretty interesting just very weak as a documentary, as X says its good that he states its a personal trip at the start.
    I totally disagree with mixing skepticism and science ... without firm proof (of course that would mean it was no longer skeptical but a provable idea)
    As well, as I said before in another comment, with any delving into a religion rooted in Vedic thought, it is very short sighted to take in simply the beliefs of that one school of thought you should read and learn more about all the different schools of thought that have evolved from Vedic ideology, and create your own path. (you can mix in non Vedic thought if you want too lol)

  29. Daniel

    So, he has a "mind problem" and is not "well rested"... so... he is a human being, works, thinks... what kind of diagnosis is that?

    1. Jacek Walker

      How many people would be willing to admit they got a "mind problem" ? But most of them have.

  30. silkop

    I heard this guy for the first time when he spoke at TED. I noticed he's nutty back then. This documentary just fully confirms this thesis, exposing him as a full-blown new age believer who has no idea what separates speculation from science.

  31. bee

    yes Kancha... but do you realize.. there was no such country called Nepal...or India. The whole continent was just a satellite of small kingdom and states

  32. kancha

    Nice video. However, can I correct a mistake. Siddhartha was born in Nepal in Lumbini, although he finally got enlightened in Gaya, India.

  33. Jane

    Great, thank you both.