How are the concepts of impermanence and detachment demonstrated in Bernardo Bertolucci's film Little Buddha?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story told by Lama Norbu at the beginning of the movie about an ancient Indian priest who wants to sacrifice a goat to the gods is a good introduction to the concept of impermanence and its inevitability. As the priest rises his knife and is ready to cut the goat's throat, the animal starts to laugh because after 499 times of dying and being born again as a goat, the animal will this time be reborn as a human being. Then  the goat starts crying explaining the 500 lives ago it too was a high priest sacrificing goats. The story exemplifies the migration of the spirit and its detachment from the body. In a later scene Norbu explains re-incarnation by breaking a cup full of tea and explaining that, although the cup (the body) does not exist any longer, the tea (the mind) remains despite taking different forms.