Jurassic World actor James DuMont talks Nichiren Buddhism and “a deeper shade of blue.”

Actor and SGI Buddhist James DuMont now has over 100 film & TV credits to his name. They include Ugly Betty, Dallas Buyers Club, House, The West Wing, Oceans 13, War of the Worlds, Seabiscuit and Catch Me If You Can. He has played opposite the likes of Colin Farrell, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Tom Hanks, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates. His next movie – Jurassic World – opens today, Friday 12 June.

James DuMont
James DuMont – on a screen near you in Jurassic World!

What I love about James’s résumé is that he has slowly, surely and steadily built a successful Hollywood career through his repeated efforts. In fact to land those 100 parts, he has had to do more than 3,000 auditions! And this reminds him of a famous Buddhist quote: “From the indigo, an even deeper blue.” This means that, if one dyes something repeatedly in indigo, it becomes even bluer than the indigo leaf itself. In this interview, James shared with me how his strong Buddhist practice sustains him through the ups and downs of life.

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome through the practice?

My father and his father made huge, detrimental mistakes that destroyed their families and the damage took years and generations to heal and in some cases those issues have been the greatest obstacles I have faced as father and husband. Issues of infidelity, financial mistakes and more importantly issues of being present and available to set an example. This has also been my biggest benefit. I am present for my son and daughter, as best I can. I am working to be a better man, father, husband and son than the men in my family before me. In essence I am redefining the truest meaning of fatherhood in my family and all the responsibility that comes with that. This is not an easy task or mission, but it is mine.

indigo dye
A deeper shade of blue…

 

What’s your favourite Buddhist quote and why? 

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda says: “A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation, and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.” And another favourite quote (author unknown): “Two things define you, your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything”. I have never forgotten where I have come from and this practice allows me to have gratitude and to treat others as I would want to be treated.

Your new movie is Jurassic World, are there any Nichiren Buddhist themes in it?

The most obvious one is “the person & the environment are one!”  If our hearts and minds are pure, then so is the environment. There is also the theme of ‘those who do not stop evil are supporting and encouraging it.’ Also part of the inherent nature of dinosaurs was to kill, but unlike the dinosaurs, we have the Gohonzon, which gives us a tool to access our Buddhahood and transform ourselves and our inherent nature.

J World 2
Jurassic World

 

 

Why do you think Nichiren Buddhism attracts so many actors and artists?

This practice gives you the strength, power and hope to fundamentally transform your own human journey while on this earth. As an actor/artist I can have a deep and profound effect on the planet, if I just dig deep into my own humanity and then bring that to light by unearthing human behaviour in all its beauty, pain, joy and sorrow. That is my mission while I am here. I audition more than 300 times a year, and in a good year I will only succeed with ten of those 300 attempts to share myself and skills. I can’t imagine having to deal with that without this practice. It gives me a sword to wield through all these setbacks and come away from them feeling happiness, joy and hope. I hope my life and human revolution will encourage people to stand up and fight even harder!

Tell us more about how you handle rejection as an actor?

I cannot stress enough the resilience this practice gives you and how necessary this is for my life and career. Also sometimes you may ‘step in some dog shit’ in life and it takes a while to get rid of the smell from your shoes or even from your mind. You smell it, others do or even if they don’t, you think they do. You have to shed that mindset and make greater causes in order to counter the temporary nature of ‘having shit on your shoes’. I share that analogy a great deal to encourage actors going through serious dry spells of work.

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

Trust yourself more, be better to yourself and do this chanting thing that’s been put right in front of you!

You can Like James’ Facebook page here

You can view James’ showreel here:

And if you enjoyed this interview you may also like a similar post about another SGI Buddhist actor, Cathryn de Prume, to whom I am very grateful as she connected me to James.

More from James in my book, The Buddha in Me, the Buddha in You – a handbook for happiness, available for pre-order now on Amazon UK (to be published Feb 2016)

How much will you love your Life in 2014?

And what are your goals for this coming year? Does the very question make you want to sigh with resignation? Or does it excite and inspire you? Are you carrying on your shoulders the weight of previous failures? Or are you determined to achieve even more in 2014 than you ever did before?

determination

My focus on goals improved dramatically when I first went on The Winning Edge personal development course where the inspirational trainer (Richard Jackson MBE) pointed out that in the average lifetime of 76 years, you only get 28,000 days. Twenty-eight thousand. How many do you have left? What will you do with them? Do the maths folks. Then decide.

In Nichiren Buddhism, we are encouraged to set determinations every year, to replace vague yearnings with concrete goals, to achieve benefits (both tangible and intangible), to discover and fulfill our missions and to carry out our human revolution. How lucky are we to get this sort of life training?

Continue reading “How much will you love your Life in 2014?”

How to beat your darkness and achieve great victories in life

A couple of weeks ago I decided it might be lovely to write a post about the constant battle we face with our Fundamental Darkness (FD) – the illusions and self-slander that stop us seeing our own and others’ Buddhahood (wisdom, courage, compassion and joy) and stop us achieving our goals. As a result my own negativity went into overdrive and the last thing I wanted to do was write this blog.

Daisaku Ikeda-Parque

I then came across some super-strict (and compassionate…) guidance from Daisaku Ikeda (you may have seen it on my Facebook page…). So, are you ready for some advice that removes all your excuses for unhappiness and helps you take responsibility for your whole life? Yes? Good, here goes then:

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Struggling to cope? Learn how to challenge instead with this guidance from Kazuo Fujii

I love this quote by SGI-UK Buddhist leader Kazuo Fujii (pictured here in 1993) who outlines the huge difference it makes when we learn to challenge ourselves instead of just coping with life’s difficulties:

Kazuo Fujii (1993) cropped

“There are two ways of approaching life. The first is coping and the second is challenging to change a situation. The situation is the same but the results are different. Coping is linked to the past and our past knowledge and experiences. It is a conservative attitude, limited, restricted, passive, defensive, dependent. There is no vision and no hope. This is not Buddhism. Buddhism is about change. Changing ourselves, society and humanity for good. The way to change is determination based on wisdom. Change is a projection towards the future. It is positive, creative, independent, attacking and seeking. It is an attitude of great hope and vision. Coping is the past projecting to the present. Changing is the present projecting to the future. We can choose. The difference between ordinary and great lives is up to us.”

Continue reading “Struggling to cope? Learn how to challenge instead with this guidance from Kazuo Fujii”

Why you can never lose your confidence

Daisaku Ikeda wrote: “Hope transforms pessimism into optimism. Hope is invincible. Hope changes everything. It changes winter into summer, darkness into dawn, descent into ascent, barrenness into creativity, agony into joy. Hope is the sun. It is light. It is passion. It is the fundamental force for life’s blossoming. Hope is a decision you make. Hope is a flame we nurture in our hearts that must be fanned by our determination.”    DSC_0192

Sometimes I coach people who are feeling pretty pessimistic and say to me: “I’ve lost my confidence,” or “my mojo has gone.” Maybe you feel this way sometimes? I used to take these comments at face value and see it as my job to instil belief or motivation during the rest of the coaching session. Then it dawned on me one day when I was chanting for the happiness of one particular person that this was an illusion and that I could not inject confidence into anyone.

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How to create a truly amazing Life

I want to share with you some encouragement from Daisaku Ikeda that I first read half a lifetime ago, when I began to practise Buddhism. It was written for University students. It is about having a strong sense of purpose, battling against adversity and creating value for yourself and society. I love this article because it encourages us to dream big (“follow the rainbow in your heart”) and yet it is in no way “pink and fluffy”, in fact it is very strict, warning against indolence, indulgence and cowardice. Image

I have re-read it dozens of times since 1985 and it has kept me on a path that produces ever greater happiness in my life.

Continue reading “How to create a truly amazing Life”