This documentary follows a group of Western thinkers who travel to India to meet with the Dalai Lama to discuss a way to tackle some of the problems in the world. These men and women come from various backgrounds and work environments, from quantum physicists to radio hosts, but each person wants to help make the world a better place. First they must get through their egos to actually work together effectively, and what they eventually find may have more to do with changing themselves before changing the world.

The idea that a group of people will get together and solve the problems of the world seems a bit unrealistic, but this is the purpose of the journey in Dalai Lama Awakening. At least, that’s the intention of the journey. Perhaps the Dalai Lama was always sure of where the group would end up, because by the time these 40 men and women finally meet him, their path has dramatically changed.

The first hour of the film covers the trip to reach the Dalai Lama, and the almost pointless act of trying to organize the group into a cohesive vision. This is a gathering of some of the brightest minds in the world, which also means that they travel with their egos. Watching them try to talk over each other, try to convince others of their viewpoints, and mobilize against the leaders of the group seems to point out some of the very problems they’re trying to solve. It’s not until the second hour when the Dalai Lama enters the conversation that the true answer to changing the world becomes obvious. He speaks of changing ourselves to make change in others, and by the end, every member of the group leaves a very different person.

The Dalai Lama has a presence about him that reaches beyond the screen. You can feel his kindness and compassion while watching, so one can only imagine what the people there would have felt. It becomes a bit of a life changing experience just to watch the film, and will certainly have you questioning how you live your own life.

This special screening of Dalai Lama Awakening also features the 50 minute documentary Compassion in Action. This is essentially the wrap-up of Dalai Lama Awakening. It features some of the same footage, and talks about what happened after this meeting. It’s here where we really get to see the difference the meeting had in the lives of the participants, and also allows viewers to hear more from the Dalai Lama.