Today : Groundhog Day

Happy Groundhog Day! By sheer karmic coincidence, I screened ‘Groundhog Day’ today… on Groundhog Day itself – the 2nd of February! I realised this while watching it on the big screen at a Lecture Theatre at National Institute of Education. When the film mentioned the 2nd of February to be Groundhog Day, I excitedly turned to ask the Event Director beside me – ‘Is today the 2nd of February?’ He replied ‘Yes!’ in a way just as thrilled as me. I had to exclaim to the audience in the dark – ‘Today is Groundhog Day!’ Those who caught it laughed.

Now, what is Groundhog Day, as in the actual festival? Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day for a summary. Incidentally, the scriptwriter Danny Rubin is a Zen Buddhist, and Harold Ramis was somewhat Buddhist after making the film. The movie-screening cum Dharma discussion is the opening event of Nanyang Technological University Buddhist Society’s week long of celebrations to promote Buddhism in the campus (http://clubs.ntu.edu.sg/buddhist). Coming up is National University of Singapore Buddhist Society’s ‘Buddhism Awareness Week’ from 6th February (http://nusbs.org.sg/blog)

‘Groundhog Day’ is still simply the best ‘non-Buddhist Buddhist movie’ ever. This is agreed by many Buddhists in the West too. Yes, it’s even more Buddhist in nature than the Matrix trilogy (though the Wachowski brothers did admit they were inspired by Buddhism too). Still a classic despite being made in 1993, last year celebrated its 15th anniversary. There’s a new special edition version of it, which I’m contemplating of getting.

I usually write detailed reviews for films I screen, dissecting them in detail with added commentary to elucidate and amplify the Dharma messages within. But when it comes to Groundhog Day, there is such a wealth of good Buddhists reviews online that I could hardly write much to enhance them. I printed sets of notes numbering 18 pages each for the audience. It’s the all-time record thickness for movie notes compiled by me so far, though most of it were insightful excerpts from others. (http://moonpointer.com/movies/groundhogday.doc) Watching it again today, I realised there were lessons I missed in this 101 minute story. It’s amazing how many layers of meaning were compressed into the film… or is it just me reading too much? Well, I’m definitely not alone on this – at least not for this film!

At the end of the screening and discussion, while chatting with some of the members, we still could hardly contain our amazement and amusement that today happened to be Groundhog Day. I joked during the discussion that if they find themselves to be in the same Lecture Theatre tomorrow, at least they would know how to end Groundhog Day – now that they know the Dharma keys to its exit! Before parting, I suggested that next year’s event committee could consider screening Groundhog Day again – on Groundhog Day! Well, at least one Buddhist centre in the West does screen it annually on Groundhog Day. To conclude, here’s a poem to share. (You might get it only after watching the show though.)

Our yesterdays were all somewhat Groundhog Days…
Our tomorrows will be somewhat Groundhog Days…
Even today is yet another somewhat Groundhog Day…

Till we learn to live in the here and now…
Till we break free of Groundhog Day…
Till this day becomes Nirvana Day.

(This has been an unabashed promotion of Groundhog Day – the film though; rather than the celebration. Thank you for your kind attention!)

Related Articles:
The Groundhog Day Buddhism Sutra
http://buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=6,7712,0,0,1,0
News: Cold, Windy Groundhog Day in Houston
http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou090202_jj_weather-groundhog-day.10a0e9ed.html