Act Normal

83 minutes 8.4/10 based on 24 votes

This documentary, filmed over a 10 year period, revolves around the life of Robert T. Edison, a Buddhist monk in Thailand, originally from Nottingham, England, that decides to revisit the “normal” world after practicing Buddhism and living in monasteries for over a decade.

At the age of fourteen, Edison began to practice Buddhism. At eighteen he became a monk and decided to move to Thailand where he spent ten years living in monasteries.

In April of 1994, Edison went to Iceland to visit a friend. It was during this visit that he met a few Thai people who were residents there. Soon the rumor spread that there was a monk visiting and some went to him and encouraged him to stay in Iceland and maybe set up a temple. Because he was not free yet, he needed to return to Thailand to ask for permission from his superiors. Permission to move to Iceland as a missionary was granted and Robert relocated and became the first Buddhist monk there. The first few years were very difficult for Robert Edison because after the novelty wore off, many Thai simply moved on and forgot about him. But he powered through and eventually things got better. To Robert Edison becoming a Buddhist monk was like confronting life instead of distracting himself like most people do.

After being a monk for 16 years, Robert decided to “disrobe” and live as a layman. That meant he had to adjust to being “normal”. As a monk people were constantly approaching him on the street. As a regular individual, he became just another face in the crowd. He enjoyed this anonymity, though. Robert also discovered that he didn’t have that much of a sexual appetite and sex wasn’t that important to him, mostly it was just something he did because the woman wanted it. Plus, there were a few disadvantages to not being a monk anymore. First, he had to wear trousers, which were not near as comfortable as the skirts a monk wears. The second disadvantage had to do with hair versus a shaved head and having to take care of it.

Robert Edison was really on a quest for true love and as a layman he didn’t find it. He concluded that love is overrated and that people make too much of an investment in it. He was told as a child that whenever he found love, he would know it. Robert felt that he was lied to.

Buddhism disagrees with most religions that believe in an eternal God that has the power to save you. Buddhists believe that this is the reason why many people of other religions never really experience freedom from suffering. Buddhism’s answer to life is that to be truly free from suffering, you must hold on to nothing.

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Discuss This Documentary

  • jasonsociety

    I suppose he became a Bhikku for all the wrong reasons.

  • TheVrai

    Absolutely fascinating documentary. Thanks. Really enjoyed this.

  • Ticklefury

    Thoughtful and well crafted. Thank you.

  • kaas

    interesting documentary. Though after having watched it, I feel like mr. Edison has only showed a glimpse of his internal life.

  • Nicholas Llewellyn

    I feel like I have wasted an hour and a half since watching this movie, trying to understand it’s cause to be. I don’t know why it was released.

  • Dam That Nando

    I liked this film. I have practiced Buddhism for about 25 years. I am not a monk. The topics touched upon resonate with me deeply. I understand his desire to settle into nothingness if you want to end suffering. I have made friends with my suffering and do not give it the importance it once had. There are other ways to practice Buddhism rather than just taking the easy way out, IMO.

  • Raven

    Well, I found his honesty very refreshing and agree with him on the subject of ‘love’.
    A once-a-month husband/wife might be acceptable. Or not.

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