Modern Life

Your Weekend Movie Guide

Top 10 Spiritual Movies

Sep, 19 2023

Looking for more than just a movie night? How about a cinematic experience that also serves as a fascinating intro to Eastern philosophies like Taoism, Confucianism, and principles such as Yin and Yang, Bagua, and the I Ching? Below is a list of top 10 spiritual movies that don't just entertain; they parallel, echo, or draw inspiration from these profound Eastern teachings.

Shawshank redemption movie scene

Top 10 Spiritual Movies

  1. The Matrix - The Wachowski siblings, who created "The Matrix," have explicitly stated that they drew inspiration from various philosophies, including the Chinese classic text "I Ching," which centers around the idea of a universe in constant change. Neo's journey reflects these teachings as he transforms and adapts to his ever-changing reality.
  2. Avatar - Director James Cameron used the concept of interconnectedness that closely resembles the Bagua principle. The Na'vi's connection to their planet Pandora reflects this concept of environmental unity and interconnected elements.
  3. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert's quest for balance and harmony in her life mirrors the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang. The journey from eating in Italy (pleasure/yin) to praying in India (discipline/yang) symbolizes the search for balance.
  4. The Shawshank Redemption - The film's themes of hope and moral integrity find parallels in Confucianism, which emphasizes the value of each individual and the possibility for moral development even in challenging circumstances.
  5. Life of Pi - Pi's life story unfolds as a parable for understanding and co-existing with the complexities of life, a recurring theme in Taoist and Confucian philosophies that encourage us to embrace life's paradoxes.
  6. The Fountain - The film’s depiction of cyclical existence—life, death, and rebirth—resembles the Yin and Yang concept where opposing yet complementary forces exist in a cyclical manner.
  7. The Tree of Life - This Terrence Malick film can be seen as a cinematic representation of the Bagua, illustrating the multifaceted aspects of life including family, wisdom, and introspection, much like the eight trigrams that represent various elements and life situations in Bagua.
  8. The Seventh Seal - While rooted in Western existentialism, the film's focus on the search for life's meaning shares similarities with Confucian thought which also tackles existential questions regarding one’s role in the family and society.
  9. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - This Academy Award-winning film draws heavily from Chinese philosophy, particularly Confucianism and Taoism. The characters’ internal moral dilemmas, codes of honor, and the movie's poetic expression of the natural world all echo themes found in these ancient teachings.
  10. Groundhog Day - The film cleverly incorporates the idea of life's cyclical nature, a concept familiar to the I Ching, which is often used to understand patterns and cycles in one’s life.

Scene from Avatar movie

Fun Facts for the Philosophically Inclined

  • "The Matrix" incorporates numerous Eastern influences, including the martial arts choreography modeled on Kung Fu, a practice with deep roots in Chinese philosophy.
  • "Avatar" sparked discussions about environmentalism that closely resemble debates in ancient China on the balance of human life and nature, as discussed in texts like the Tao Te Ching.

Scene from Avatar movie

Why Should These Movies Be Your Weekend Picks?

Opting for these films means your weekend will be more than a casual popcorn affair. These cinematic gems provide intriguing glimpses into age-old philosophies and how they manifest in contemporary storytelling.

Scene from Matrix movie and Yin Yang


Whether you're new to Eastern philosophy or well-versed in its profound teachings, this list promises to make your weekend both entertaining and enlightening. You're not just watching movies; you're engaging with millennia-old wisdom that can offer life-changing perspectives. So sit back, press play, and prepare for a transformative cinematic journey. Your weekend just got a spiritual upgrade!

spiritual movies
I Ching