Groundhog lessons

15th June 2007 at 01:00
The life in a day of a film character has proved the perfect way to teach Buddhism, says Andrew McMillan

In the film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a TV weatherman who is forced to live the same day over and over again until he gets it right. I use clips from the film in my RE lesson to teach the Buddhist concept of samsara to Year 9s. Buddhists believe we are all stuck in a cycle of birth and rebirth - a cycle in which we suffer and from which we cannot escape.

We are kept there by three fires - our own ignorance, greed and hatred.

If we can extinguish these fires, we can break free and attain enlightenment. We accumulate good and bad karma as a result of our actions and this affects how we are reborn. In the film, Murray's character is self-centred, insensitive and egotistical, and he is stuck in his own samsara - living the same day repeatedly.

In trying to escape, he is initially reckless - seeing no consequences to his actions - and eventually tries to break the cycle by suicide. But in Buddhism, death cannot release you from samsara. This only happens when finally Bill Murray's character learns to give up his greed and put others first Andrew McMillan is a PGCE teacher at the Corsham School, a secondary comprehensive in Corsham, Wiltshire

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