Winfield, professor of religious studies, penned the piece as part of her efforts to publish more public scholarship that contributes to the general understanding of religion in our world.
In “Fishing for Enlightenment,” Pamela Winfield reflects on the existential odyssey of jazz pianist Joe Gardner, the protagonist of Disney-Pixar’s latest animated film “Soul.”
She focuses on a pivotal scene toward the end of the movie when Joe, voiced by Jamie Foxx, talks with jazz great Dorothea Williams, voiced by Angela Bassett, about finally getting his big break. He is perplexed by how normal it feels after finally achieving his goal. The lesson of the film, and of Buddhist enlightenment tales in general, is that “fishing for enlightenment means ultimately letting go of the prize, and intimately and joyfully engaging with the everyday as a result.”
This is Winfield’s third article on Buddhist-American popular culture that she has published with Tricycle, America’s oldest magazine for lay and monastic practitioners to which serious scholars of Buddhism regularly submit. It is a part of Winfield’s professional development plan to publish more public scholarship that contributes to the general understanding of religion in our world.