Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mindful Movies: Thoughts on What's Bubbling Up in Popular Culture

Avatar made big waves not too long ago, crushing box office records left and right. It had all the usual stuff: romantic interest, explosions, and a fairly linear, easy-to-follow plotline. What blew a lot of people away (some good and some bad) was how strong of statement it made about being connected to the environment. This idea of interconnectedness was bold (and politically charged for some), but to me what was even bolder was the courage to add a lot of spiritual elements to the mix such as the big healing circle. Even further, the power of the female shaman (tsahik) is the central power of the Na'Vi clan in many ways. This emphasis further showed elements of the emerging divine feminine that's coming through in these days. It was and is a powerful movie on multiple levels, but it's not the only one.

Wake Up: A Documentary to Bring Awareness to Awakening
Two Fridays ago, a friend and I went to watch "Wake Up." It's a documentary about Jonas Elrod, who one day suddenly started seeing energy and spirits. It's a jarring transition and one which Jonas struggles with as he starts a journey of self-discovery. It's a fantastic portrayal of someone coming to terms with gifts that fall outside society's current box of understanding. It also raises awareness for a lot of people waking up that this is okay.

When people spiritually wake up, they typically are waking up to kindness and love. You can really feel this from awakened people.  At the screening that I went to in Berkeley, I could really feel the love and the deeper integration of this awareness in Jonas. It's a beautiful resonance that naturally comes off of him. It makes you feel instantly connected to him and very safe. It's a beautiful thing, and I've seen it a lot with a number of people being brought into my life. I expect that we'll be seeing a lot more of it.

Furthermore, Wake Up does a great job of adding in a foil. Jonas's girlfriend is the skeptic, who--for most of society--will represent their point of view. Her counterpoint to him is a very beautiful part of the film and part of an endearing relationship to witness on screen. The courage that they both show in sharing so much in a documentary is truly wonderful and amazing.

I Am: A Movie For the Scientific Mind
Last night, I watched I Am. Tom Shadyac--a director of movies like Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, etc.--shares his experiences from having recurring concussion syndrome and the agony that he was in. It drove him to question his reality and then to make this movie to help people see the truth that he'd learned: that we are all interconnected. While Wake Up is a raw spiritual and psychic awakening in full bore, I Am is for the rationale mind that still wants science to proves such statements like: We are all interconnected. And it does so admirably well, and it offers a lot of interesting tidbits from the Institute of Noetic Sciences and other research groups. Most of all, the biggest part is seeing how Shadyac gave up a lot of his wealth to live more simply and how he acknowledged his own contribution in being part of the problem in society (superficiality, hoarding resources past his own needs, etc.).

Samsara: The Beauty and Terrors of the World Before Us
I'm updating this post with a recent movie (I watched this in September 2012). Samsara is an amazingly deep film that uses no dialogue whatsoever. It is a collage of pictures of people, places, and things from all over the world. The visuals are stunning, mind-blowing, and compelling. The "narrative" has many sub-narratives, and there are many ways that this movie will challenge conventional thought. This isn't the watered down, brainless hero saves damsel in distress tale. This is a broad lens view on the totality of humanity from the plastification of women to the immense beauty of traditional life to the certainty that we will all return to dust in the end. I highly recommend seeing it and then spending time talking to a friend about it to help integrate and appreciate all that you just saw.

Mindful Movies and Themes Spreading
I love documentaries on this subject because I think it's important that people don't associate "awakening" or "enlightenment" with fiction. That said, I was watching "Rango" the other day, and I was blown away by the themes of enlightenment in this crazy animated movie about a lizard. From pretty much the get-go, this move announces itself as more than an animated romp to grab lots of quick guffaws from the audience. There is plenty of humor in it, but this big question of "Who am I?" holds sway over the story arc far more than the plot-driven question of "Where did the water go?" Johnny Depp, once again, immerses his talents so well that you just think that this is how this lizard would talk in an animated feature Western movie (unlike Eddie Murphy as Donkey in Shrek. He's still amazingly funny even though you know exactly who's talking to you).

So on a journey of self-actualization you go with Rango, and with the guidance of a wise armadillo, you see his life shattered from a caged, glass and plastic world into a new sense of self.

And on many other similar journeys I expect us to go as more and more people wake up, and the storytellers for this era begin to share these amazing explorations and realizations that are coming to people everywhere that we are not alone, that we are love, and that we are all interconnected.
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