Two minutes that shows the depth and beauty of the Iranian (Persian) culture, and of the human heart. Written and directed by Sayed Mohammad Reza Kheradmandan.
I watched Pain & Glory (Dolor y gloria) by Pedro Almodóvar and found it beautiful, moving, and emotionally satisfying.
It’s semi-autobiographical, filmed in a replica of Almodóvar’s own apartment, and Antonio Banderas – who played the slightly fictionalized Almodóvar – apparently wore the director’s clothes (!).
According to interviews with Almodóvar and Banderas, the fictional parts is mainly the reconciliation that happens in the movie. The director repairs three different relationships – with a former colleague, his mother, and a former lover.
Unable to mend these relationships in real life, he did it – in a beautiful way – in his imagination and through his art. And we can do that too.
I have gone back to my childhood in my imagination and replayed situations with some changes. I imagine myself and the other people – who I felt hurt by at the time – as the most sane, wise, kind, and humane versions of ourselves, replay the scenes and how they would be different, and dialog with them and ask why they acted the way they did (and imagine their answers).
Imagining them – and me – as whole is fictional in one sense, but real in another since we all have the capacity to live from the most mature, wise, and kind versions of ourselves. And when I feel hurt, it usually comes from a combination of the actions of others (often coming from their hurt and reactive parts) and the hurt and reactive parts of me interpreting what happened.
There are many other ways to do this. For instance any form of parts work (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process, Internal Family Systems) or a form of inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries).
Some may say that it’s not really mended if it’s just in our imagination. It’s true that the reconciliation may be deeper and more embodied when it happens in real life with the people involved. And yet, it’s real enough even if it happens “just” in our imagination. It’s real for us. It’s real for our mind and our system. It’s real for us to the extent it’s wholehearted, genuine, sincere, visceral, and lived.
And doing it within ourselves can be a good stepping-stone for doing it in life, when and if that’s possible.Read More
In Nausicaä of The Valley of the Wind, Nausicaaä meets a vicious fox-squirrel. It jumps on her shoulder and bites into her finger. She remains calm and says “there is nothing to fear”. The fox-squirrel calms down and eventually becomes her friend. She says “you were just a little scared, weren’t you”. (About 12:25 into the movie.)
This is similar to befriending scared parts of ourselves. They can seem vicious, reactive, and fearsome. Our tendency may be to recoil and pull back – or to struggle with them in another way. And that tends to reinforce the reactivity dynamic and the cycle repeats.
If we instead – as Nausicaä – relate to these parts of us with some understanding, kindness, and curiosity, we may shift out of the old cycle. These parts of us may feel more understood and safe, allowing them to relax a bit. We may get to know them a little better. We may even befriend them. And the whole dynamic changes.
The main key is our orientation. Our understanding that fear is behind both the scary parts of us and how we have habitually reacted to them, and when it was initially formed it came from an intention to protect us. Despite surface appearances, it comes from a kind intention. This understanding allows us to meet it with some kindness, curiosity, and patience.
Another key is to notice and allow. Notice what’s here – what’s surfacing and how I react to it. Allow it as it is. And, depending on my experience and practice, explore the different components of what’s happening and see how they work together.
This topic is also a reminder of something else: How I relate to nature and other beings reflect how I relate to myself. As I find more kindness towards myself and the different parts of me, it tends to shift how I relate to nature as a whole and other beings in general.
P.S. Nausicaä of The Valley of the Wind is an early Hayao Miyazaki movie. While the animation is a little rough and the music at times terrible, the story is powerful.Read More
I haven’t seen Only Lovers Left Alive yet, but read enough about it to know that the two main characters have lived for centuries and have amassed a huge amount of experience and perhaps some wisdom in the process.
So I thought it would be fun to try a dialog with someone who has lived for centuries.
When we use Voice Dialog / the Big Mind process, we typically dialog with parts of us that are obviously here like the voice of appreciation, the victim, or Big Mind / Heart.
There is no part of me that had lived for centuries. Or is there? I can easily enough imagine how it would be to have lived for generations, and access that voice or part of me.
And in a quite real sense, I have in me something that had lived for that long. Something that has, through culture, accumulated experience and wisdom over generations.
In another quite real sense, as part of this living Earth, and as part of this universe, I am billions of years old. Everything in me is the product of billions of years evolution of the universe and this living planet, millions of years of evolution of pre-human ancestors, and hundreds of thousands of years thousands of my human ancestors.
So, yes, I can probably dialog with a voice in me that has the experience and wisdom from having lived for generations.
Dialog with one who has lived for generations.
Can I speak with the voice that has lived for generations?
How do you see the world?
Not so different from you. Just from more experience. I am much less caught up in the daily fluctuations compared with you and others who have only lived for a short time. I have seen it all. It all comes and goes. Disappointment. Elation. Health. Illness. Birth. Death. It’s all part of life, and I have seen all of it enough to not get caught up in it.
Does it mean you are detached?
For a while, I tried detachment and distance, but that’s deadly boring in the long run. It’s much more juicy to feel and be engaged and play the game, but I am not caught in it. I know it all, including my responses, comes and goes.
It sounds a bit like the wisdom of the Buddha?
Yes, I knew him. Good fella. (That’s a joke, by the way. I was somewhere else back then.)
But yes, it’s pretty similar. I think that anyone who lives for generations will develop that kind of wisdom or view on life. It’s almost inevitable.
Do you have any advice for P.? (This interviewer.)
Well, let’s see. I think he knows it already but hasn’t taken it in fully. He doesn’t completely trust it or allow himself to live from it. So if I can help, here it is.
He allows himself to worry about things that are regular parts of life, it’s the universal ups and downs. And he sometimes takes it more personally than he needs, and get more caught up in it than he would if he had longer experience. Life is not about him. Life just happens, as it does for everyone. Stay engaged, play the game, and know it’s not personal and most of the details are not even that important in the long run. Just do your best.
How do you see the world today?
Most if not all of the problems come from people being short-sighted. They think locally and act short-term, and although that worked in the past when humanity was smaller and had less powerful technology, it doesn’t work anyone. There are too many people, with too powerful tools, for that to work.
Humans need to imagine bigger, or at least enough need to, so they can create new systems that take deep time and global situations (like ecosystems) into consideration.
Human nature won’t change, but humans adapt their behavior to the system they are in.
(I should add: Human nature does change, but not very quickly. Not on the scale of centuries or decades.)
Is there a question you would like to be asked?
Hm. I like that question. Ask me what I enjoy the most.
What do you enjoy the most?
The changing seasons. The seasons of nature, of human life, of generations and human history.
The very small things, the ordinary. A cup of tea. Saying hello to a stranger. Waking a dog. Reading a book. Weathering an illness.
The new. A new dish. A new sunrise. A new here and now.
It’s there anything you are tired of?
Not really. Perhaps the predictable, or at least thinking something is predictable. I have seen enough to know it’s not. I guess that’s something I am still learning.
Is there anything else you are currently learning?
I am not sure. I think it’s mainly noticing how everything is fresh.
The mind sometimes tells me that this is something I have experienced more times than I can count, and although that’s true in a way, it’s not the whole picture. This experience is fresh.
I guess that’s another parallel to what Mr. Buddha and others have talked about. And it is the only way to stay fresh and keep enjoying – and not only enjoying but deeply enjoying — life when you live and live and live as I do.
What music, art, and books do you like?
Anything. Anything from any culture and period. What’s familiar and what’s new. High culture and trash. It’s all juicy.
Is it possible to make a mistake?
Well, it depends on what you mean. Of course, we sometimes make mistakes in a small perspective. We bungle things. Make poor decisions. Or make good decisions that turn out badly.
In a bigger perspective, those are not really mistakes. We do what we can based on who and how we are and the situation we are in. And we get feedback from life and have an opportunity to learn. So in that sense, nothing is really a mistake.
What do you think about conditioning?
That’s something I have a lot of experience with. Conditioning is the operating system of humans or at least a large part of it.
Patterns are passed on through the generations, with some variations. Patterns of what’s seen as good and bad, right and wrong; and patterns of likes and dislikes, cultural and family hangups and traumas; ideas about heaven and hell, gods and demons, how the world works, and just about anything else that’s part of how humans function.
When you take a generational view, you see how it’s not personal. It’s all passed on. And then we make it personal, and we have a chance to not take it as personal if we realize what’s going on.
Even how we function as a body is conditioning, passed on with some variations through all our ancestors back to that first single-celled organism.
And how this universe works is conditioning.
Some talk about conditioning as if it’s bad or something we need to get rid of, but that’s a superficial view. We are made up of conditioning. Our bodies wouldn’t function without it. Our society wouldn’t function without it. We would have no chance to function, or survive, or exist, without it. It’s the fabric of what we are.
The only conditioning we need to be concerned about is the one of wounds and hangups, and even here how we relate to it is more vital than getting rid of it. Of course, we can do some of both.
And a part of this conditioning is the beliefs and ideas passed on through the generations that creates pain for us, and an unnecessarily limited life when we hold them as true.
How do you see non-dual spirituality?
I hoped you wouldn’t ask. Yes, it’s pretty close to reality. And in the modern western version, it’s often taken as a belief, something to hold onto to feel secure and try to stay safe. For many who are into it, it’s a security blanket. They just exchanged traditional religion for neo-Advaita. That’s fine but if they are not honest about it, they are deluding themselves.
If I am honest, and I know I sound like an old curmudgeon, many would do better to heal their emotional issues. They would find more ease and real contentment that way.
That sounds a bit harsh?
Well, yes. It’s just that I have seen versions of it so many times, in so many periods and cultures. People are in pain. And they seek and latch onto a belief – a religion or philosophy or political system – that promises to give them relief. And the real relief is in healing the pain, not getting obsessed about a system or philosophy.
To be continued…
A note: When I wrote this, I imagined dialoguing with a relatively average person who has lived for centuries. My partner dialogued with the version of herself that has lived for eons. And it can be fun to explore even more versions: the mystic, the poet, the wise man/woman, the scientist, the warrior, the one who loves earth, the one who loves humans, the one who loves life, the one who has lived innumerable lives in places around the whole Cosmos.
Professor Broom: In medieval stories, there is often a young knight who is inexperienced, but pure of heart.– from Hellboy (2004), quoted in Wikipedia
John Myers: Oh, come on. I am not pure of heart.
Abe Sapien: (who’s psychic) Yes, you are.
Professor Broom: Rasputin is back for him. What I’m asking of you is to have the courage to stand by him when I am gone. He was born a demon; we can’t change that. But you will help him, in essence, to become a man.
One of the most valuable qualities on a healing and spiritual path is sincerity, a pure heart. As Broom says, this is a recurrent theme in some of the traditional legends and perhaps most famously the grail legend (Perceval).
Sincerity allows us to be more honest with ourselves, and that’s essential for emotional healing, awakening, and embodiment.
Is also essential for having a meaningful and juicy relationship with ourselves and others, one that allows for authenticity, growth, and surprises.
If we have some sincerity, it doesn’t matter so much if we are young or inexperienced on the path we are on. Sincerity is gold, and we can always learn tools and we will gain experience.
Is sincerity something we can learn or develop? Perhaps not. But I can notice when I am not sincere and I can then shift into sincerity.
Sometimes, it’s not so easy. We may be caught in fear of a situation or something coming up in us and retreat into defensiveness to try to stay safe. That’s OK. Again, it helps to notice. I can be honest with myself about what happened. And that, in itself, is sincerity.
It also helps to notice what in me takes me away from sincerity. What is the fear about? What is the fearful story? What beliefs do I find? Identifications? And then explore it further, befriend it (find healing for my relationship to it), and perhaps find healing for the issue itself.
As I wrote the second paragraph (“Sincerity allows us….”), I noticed a synchronicity in the lyrics of the song I was listening to:
There are times when a man needs to brave his reflection,– Sting and Rob Mathes, I love her but she loves someone else
And face what he sees without fear,
It takes a man to accept his mortality,
Or be surprised by the presence of a tear.
Image: The Achievement of the Grail by British Artist Sir Edward Burn-Jones design, William Morris execution and John Henry Dearle flowers and decorations, from the Holy Grail tapestries 1891-94, Museum and Art Gallery of Birmingham, wool and silk on cotton warp.
I watched the 2017 documentary about Spielberg, and one of the many things that struck me was when someone said he is totally unselfconscious and it’s almost as if he is an employee of Spielberg.
If that’s true, and it seems there is a good amount of truth in it, it’s one piece of the explanation for how he has been able to so wholeheartedly do what he loves and be so productive, make movies across many different genres, with such skill, and for so long. He has been getting out of his own way.
So the question for me is, if I am an employee of Per (this human being here), how can I best serve him? How can I be a really great employee? What would I do in this situation? How would I approach this task if I was an employee of Per?
Again, this is a very simple pointer or inquiry, and if we apply and follow it, it can be life transforming.
I rewatched parts of the documentary The Secret Life of Brian about Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
And I was reminded that the controversy wasn’t about the movie making fun of Jesus (which it didn’t) but that it made fun of religious people and Christians in particular (which it very much did).
It’s interesting how both the makers and those offended seemed to buy into the “offended on behalf of Jesus” line while something else is really going on.
Those who were offended were offended because the movie made fun of them – of the flaws and misguided views and actions of many religious people – and they couldn’t take it. Most likely, it hit home too closely. And that was something they couldn’t admit.
Just to mention it: I love Jesus as he is depicted in the New Testament (whether he existed as a historical person or not), but I don’t have much fondness for much of what Christianity evolved into. I guess that’s why I, and many others, like the movie.
I saw the Hollywood Costume exhibit in LA a couple of years ago.
It was fun. And it also made the dream factory aspect of Hollywood very obvious. They are explicitly and openly in the business of (a) producing compelling dreams that (b) people will invest with emotional energy so it (c) seems real, substantial, charged, fascinating, and attractive to them, and they (d) seek it out and are willing to pay money for the experience.
It’s a manipulative business. But since it’s so explicit it’s also honest. We know what’s going on, and we – to a large part – chose to which degree we wish to participate. (The other side of this is that we get to vicariously experience a great deal we otherwise wouldn’t, which enriches our lives and – in the best case – help us learn and grow.)
Since the dream factory function of Hollywood is so obvious and excaggerated, it’s easy to see and explore there. And that can help us see similar dynamics in other areas of human life.
The dream factory side of the entertainment industry in general is pretty clear. But it’s also there in most or all businesses. Most or all organizations. And also in all religions.
All are in the business of creating dreams that people invest with emotional energy, draw themselves into, and are willing to invest time, energy, and sometimes money to experience more of.
There is nothing inherently wrong in this. But it’s good to be aware of.
I just watched Song of the Sea, and thought it was a beautiful and heartfelt movie. (One of my favorite bands, Kila, made the music, which is how I got interested in it.)
There is always a lot to be said about stories and how they reflect parts and dynamics in each of us.
In this case, the sister represent intuition, a deeper knowing, and nature connection. The brother a more intellectual knowing, which sometimes leads him astray, until he finds his heart. We all have these two, and they sometimes are at odds with each other, and sometimes more closely aligned. The heart is what brings these two together, as it does in the movie.
The own witch takes away pain by turning herself and others into stone. (Going numb.) We all do that too, in areas of ourselves, and sometimes. It can seem scary to feel, and yet that’s how we thaw, and also how we find our heart.
And the movie is also a reminder that we are nature. We may think we are disconnected from nature, or more connected with nature, which is true in a limited sense. And more truly, we are already nature. We are nature having all these feelings, emotions, thoughts, ideas, impulses, lives. Even our culture and civilization and technology is nature. It’s nature temporarily taking these forms. And when we see it, something shifts. (Similar to how the brother shifted in this movie.)
In the classic cave scene from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back, Luke Skywalker meets his nemesis and representative of the dark side, Darth Vader. After a brief sword fight, Luke decapitates Darth Vader, and sees his own face inside of Darth’s helmet.
Luke is what he fears the most. He is the dark side.
That’s how it is for all of us. We are what we fear. And that’s true in a few different ways.
It’s happening within and as what I am. It’s all happening within my world. It’s happening within and as (my) awareness. When it’s here, in awareness, it’s what I am.
The world is my mirror. Whatever I see “out there” in the wider world or someone else, is what I know from myself. Whatever stories I have about the world and other people, I can turn them around to myself, and find specific examples of how it’s true. (It may not look the same, or be expressed the same way, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find the same here as I have stories about in others.)
It pushes back. When I try to push something away in myself, and in the world, it tends to push back. It wants in. It wants to be acknowledged. Life is kinder than allowing me to reject something for good.
And why? Because life invites me to see what’s more real and true than my initial beliefs about it.
Life invites me to…. Recognize it as happening within and as what I am. Find in myself, as a human being, what I see in others and the wider world. Realize we are all in the same boat.
Life invites me to…. Meet it – the fear and what I fear – with respect, kindness, curiosity. Take a closer look and examine by beliefs about it, and how my perception of it is created by my own mind.
Life invites me to see that what I fear is not how it initially appears. (That doesn’t mean we become passive bystanders to injustice or cruelty, or approve of it. On the contrary. We are in a much better position to do something the more clear and mature we are in our relationship to it.)
How does it push back? We may find ourselves in situations where we encounter it again. We may replay a situation in our minds. We may have certain qualities or emotions surface in ourselves.
For instance, if I see anger as bad and try to push it away, I’ll still find myself in situations where people are angry, perhaps even at me. I’ll still replay memories of people being angry, or imagine someone being angry with me in the future. I’ll still experience anger, even if it’s pushed down and perhaps comes out as frustration or restlessness, or even feeling flat. It doesn’t go away.
P.S. I am aware that the usual interpretation(s) of the cave scene is slightly different. I imagine the more standard interpretation is that Luke has the potential to go over to the dark side, just as his father did. He has the anger. The impulsiveness. The restlessness. He is his father’s son, in that way. The cave experience is a warning, and also an invitation for him to recognize this in himself and take it seriously.
I am rewatching X-Men Days of Future Past, and it’s reminding me of what can happen when there is a combination of deep wounding and deep caring. It’s also easter, and that too is reminding me of this theme.
Raven, and to some extent Eric, both were deeply wounded, and deeply care. And it sometimes comes out in reactive ways. Ways that hurt themselves more, and hurt others too.
I see the same in Judas. There too, I imagine a deep caring, and deep wounds, combining to bring him to do what he did. To give the person he deeply loved to those who wanted to do away with him.
And I see the same in myself. I see what happens when there is deep caring, and deep wounding, and acting from reactiveness. It hurts me further, and it hurts those around me.
Sometimes, it’s not very obvious. Sometimes, it’s in what I am not doing rather than what I am doing. And yet, I see the same pattern there. A combination of deep caring, deep wounding, and acting from reactiveness rather than a more clear and kind intention.
Deep wounds come from deep caring. They are an expression of deep caring. And, as Xavier said, “Just because someone stumbles and loses their way, it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. Sometimes we all need a little help.”
I finally got around to watch Interstellar, and liked it very much. I thought it was very moving at times, the story was tight, and I like well made science fiction movies in general.
It also brought up the topic of sustainability vs space colonization. To me, those go hand in hand. They both have to do with big picture questions. And knowledge from each may well inform the other. For instance, what we learn from sustainability will be of help if (when?) we create space colonies or terraform other planets, and what we learn from those will give us valuable information about how to live in a more sustainable way back on Earth. (Although we probably should have figured that our before we get around to space colonizes and/or terraforming.)
In the short and medium term, we need to learn to live in a more genuinely sustainable way. (Which will require significant reorganization of how we do just about everything, including our institutions.)
In the medium and long term, we need to explore space further, and learn to move beyond this planet. We need, as so many points out, to become an multi-planet species. We need to branch out. It’s what life does. It’s part of our built-in draw to adventure and exploration. It’s how Earth will propagate. It’s what’s necessary if Earth life is to continue beyond the lifespan of this one planet and solar system. It’s what’s prudent, considering that having just one location for Earth life is far more precarious than two, or more.
All life propagates, and Earth is a living system, so why wouldn’t Earth propagate? In that sense, we are in service of Earth life. We are the part of Earth that may be able to make it happen.
And although Interstellar contrasts sustainability with space colonization, it’s the type of movie that makes these ideas more mainstream. It’s part of spreading these ideas, making them familiar, and even attractive.
I haven’t watched American Sniper, but from the trailer – and just knowing it’s a Hollywood movie – I assume it’s presented as “apolitical”, and the main character as a slightly conflicted hero.
If that’s the case, what’s left out is quite glaring: He participated in illegal wars, mainly created to serve corporate (and political) interests. And he, most likely, saw himself as serving his country, and doing his job. Which may be true, but is secondary to him choosing to be an active participant in very questionable foreign policies. The US foreign policies and military actions may well create more enemies and terrorists than they are preventing or getting rid of, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that too is left out of this movie.
By leaving these things out, the US movie producers are doing their job, which is (a) to make money, and (b) not question the actions of the US government in any serious way. (If they do so, they mostly focus on more harmless fringe issues.)
If this was a movie, what would be the meaning of this?
If you were the director, what would you change? How would you write the sequel?
These are excellent questions from a conversation I recently had with Bonnie G.
I first saw The Truman Show with friends from the Zen center, and was immediately struck by the – almost too obvious – parallels with the story of the Buddha, and of each of us as we begin to see through what we take as real and true. I later read that it was, indeed, the intention of the creators of the movie.
Here are some things that come to mind:
Truman is the only “true” one in the TV show. He is also each of us, the “true” man in the sense of universal man.
He takes his world as real and solid, and “accepts the world presented to him”.
He begins to see that his world is not as it appears. Little hints here and there makes him suspicious that his world is not as it first appeared to him.
He seeks the truth.
This brings up fears. It’s a threat to his identity. It’s a threat to who he takes himself to be and what he takes the world to be.
His world creates apparent obstacles to finding the truth. This is a reflection of how our mind sometimes brings up fears and reasons for not pursuing the truth, since it means giving up our familiar identities, identifications, and how we see ourselves and the world. It can feel threatening.
He persists, since he wants truth more than comfort and safety.
And he finds reality, or at least what’s more real. Reality reveals itself to him.
Although this is not part of the movie, it’s possible that after having explored the “real world” for a while, he’ll be disillusioned about it. He may have his hopes and dreams dashed. He may regret having sought it out. And if he continues to persist in finding what’s more true for him, he may find a deeper peace with himself and his world.
This parallels the typical phases – or sometimes facets – of an awakening process. (a) Taking our world as it appears to us, without much questioning. (b) Initial curiosity, interest. Initial quest to find what’s more true. (c) Facing some unloved/unquestioned fears and identifications. (e) Early release from identifications. Honeymoon phase. (f) Facing deeper unloved/unquestioned fears and identifications. (g) A deeper peace with what is. (h) Repeat variations of f-g. (?)
Welcome to the movie of who you think you are. Pass the popcorn.
– Byron Katie
It’s a commonly used analogy: our life is like a movie.
It has a main character (me). It has drama. It has ups and downs. It has other characters that come and go, some more central than others. It has challenges. It has joys. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. The story has an arc. It’s messy at times. It’s at times fascinating, scary, amusing, funny, tragic, suspenseful, surprising, exciting, predictable, boring and more.
The difference is in identification. Movies are entertaining because we are only mildly identified with the main characters. In contrast, our life can be experiences as a life-and-death matter, and hold onto very tightly, if we are strongly identified with the main character(s). And it can be entertaining and amusing if there is a softer identification.
Also, we can say that just like a movie is projected on a screen, our life – and it’s word – is “projected on awareness”. Or, rather, it happens within and as awareness itself. And just as a movie projected on the screen doesn’t impact the screen, the content of awareness doesn’t impact awareness itself. It doesn’t impact what we more basically are.
I watched Kumaré the other day, and thought it was – or at least turned out to be – a quite beautiful and heart centered story. Many of his essential pointers were very good, especially the reminder that any guru “out there” in the world is a mirror of what’s in me. He or she is a reflection of my own wisdom, clarity, joy, love.
I also enjoyed how he had his followers take his role, and give advice to themselves from the position of the guru. That’s something I have explored for myself. If I was a guru – with great wisdom, love and care – what advice would I give myself?
Why are we – some of us – fascinated by scary stories?
I find a few different ways of looking at it.
In an evolutionary context, it makes sense that we are drawn to explore scary things through stories. It helps us mentally prepare for similar situations in our own life. We get more familiar with the possible situations and how we may react, we get a bit desensitized to these types of situations so we may be more calm if or when something similar happens in our own life, and we get a chance to mentally explore different ways of dealing with it.
When I take a story about something scary as true, my attention tends to be drawn to these beliefs and what they are about. Again, it’s an invitation to mentally explore these situations in a safe setting, and how I may deal with it if something similar should happen in the real world. It’s also an invitation to explore these beliefs in themselves. Are they realistic? What’s more realistic? What’s more true for me?
An impulse to wholeness as who I am, this human self
What I see in the wider world is a reflection of what’s here. So far, I have found how each one of my stories of the wider world – including anything scary – equally well applies to me. As long as I think some human quality or characteristic is only out there in the world, or only in me, it’s painful and uncomfortable. When I find it both in the wider world and in me, there is a sense of coming home and it’s much more comfortable. In this sense, being drawn to scary stories in an invitation for me to use it as a mirror, to find in myself what I see out there in the world, and whether the scary story is from “real life” or made up doesn’t matter much.
Finding a characteristic both in the wider world and myself, I can also relate to it in a more relaxed and level-headed manner, so this impulse to find wholeness also makes sense in an evolutionary perspective.
An impulse to clarity as what I am
There is also an invitation to find clarity here. When I take a story as true, it’s uncomfortable. And finding more clarity on the story, it’s more comfortable. So when I am drawn to what I think of as scary stories, there is an invitation for me to identify and investigate any stressful belief that may come up. Through this, what I am – clarity and love, that which any experience and image happens within and as – notices itself more easily.
I also see that when I take a story as true I tend to get caught up in reactive emotions and one-sided views, and finding more clarity helps me function in a more healthy, kind and informed way in the world.
Summary: Evolution, and who and what I am
It makes evolutionary sense for me to be drawn to scary stories in all of these ways. (a) I become more familiar with the different scenarios of what may happen and how I desensitize to scary situations to some extent, so I can be more calm if or when something similar happens in my own life. I get to mentally explore different ways of dealing with it, in a safe setting and before it happens. (b) I am invited to investigate my beliefs about it and find what’s more realistic and true for me. (c) I am invited to find in myself what I see in the wider world, which helps me relate to it in a more relaxed and level-headed manner. (d) And there is no end to the stories I can investigate, including my most basic assumptions about myself and the world, which helps me function in the world from more clarity, kindness and wisdom. Each of these support my survival and ability to reproduce and raise offspring.
All of these also make psychological sense. It helps me function in the world, and find a sense of wholeness as who I am.
It all makes spiritual sense. It helps this human self – the infinite experiencing itself as finite – survive and function in the world. It’s an invitation for what I am to more easily notice itself.
And all of these perspectives – evolution, psychology and spirituality – converge in one sense, and are the same in another.
In The Matrix and Harry Potter, as well as many other stories, there is the chosen one.
We are all the chosen one, in our own world. I am the only one who can save me, and that’s how it is for each of us.
That may be why the story of the chosen one resonates. Along with other, more peripheral, reasons (confusion, mostly).
I just saw The Artist at Barn Cinema and was surprised of how powerful it was for me. The clean story, beautifully amplified in the spirit of the silent movies, made it very archetypal and brought up several beliefs.
Here are some to take to inquiry:
1. I am better than others. I am on top of the world. I can get what I want. I can do what I put my mind to. Nothing can touch me.
2. I have lost it all. I am worthless. I am a loser. I have failed. They see me as a failure. I am a nobody. I don’t matter to others. The world is better without me.
3. I cannot accept her help. She pities me. Her kindness is out of pity. He needs my help.
4. I cannot tell him (her) I love him (her). I cannot ask for what I want. I am washed up –> nobody will want me. He’s a big star –> he won’t want me. He’s not ready yet.
When I take any of these to inquiry, I find a situation and time where it was alive for me, and answer the questions from there.
I saw this when it first came out and thought it was very good.
What sticks with me now – and perhaps the main reminder from this movie – is that we have memories and tend to take them as true, or at least mostly or close to true. While in reality, they are just memories. They are images appearing here now, triggering emotions, and with stories about them saying they reflect the past, and that’s it. I cannot know for certain they actually reflect the past. And the past itself, the idea of a past is an image, as is any ideas of what happened in that past.
There is a big difference in knowing this abstractly, as an interesting thought, and knowing it through and through – with body and mind – about specific instances and memories. I can inquiry into one memory at a time, and gradually there is a shift in how I relate to stories about the past. I see – through specific, concrete and genuine examples – how my images of the past are just that, images, alive here now.
I find it fun, interesting & helpful to do inquiry on dreams, fairy tales and movies.
There is more freedom of imagination, the themes are amplified, and I am out of my familiar context of everyday life even as the themes and stories are the same.
So I can take any dream, fairy tale or movie, identify my thoughts, and do inquiry on these thoughts. And I can also imagine myself in any role in those stories, image what thoughts I have about what’s happening and other characters in the story, and do the same.
It can be a playful and juicy way of tapping into some core stories.
“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” tells the remarkable but little-known story of a small band of unarmed women who risked their lives to bring change to Liberia. Reconstructing the moment through interviews, archival footage and striking images of contemporary Liberia. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women confronted cruelty and corruption, taking on Charles Taylor and the warlords and bringing peace to their country after decades of war. Their demonstrations brought about the exile of Charles Taylor and the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state and mark the vanguard of a new wave of people taking control of their political destiny around the world.
Not so little known anymore. Great movie.
The conquistador really wants the tree of life and what it offers, and then realizes in terror that it requires everything of him and doesn’t look at all like what he expected. First, he chased the tree, then the process took over and he didn’t have a choice anymore – as if he ever had a choice.
I have had a mysterious draw to watching episodes of Derrick, an old German TV show.
It’s not very good, and I don’t like it that much – the setting is dreary, the story line predictable and repetitive, and not much to gain in terms of insights in human nature.
And yet, I am mysteriously drawn to it. There is something in it for me.
I watched Toy Story 3 on the flight yesterday. It’s a rich story with many forms of love, several ways of being misguided, and most or all of the themes of the hero’s journey.
One of the things that stood out for me was the death and resurrection themes. Towards the end of the story, our friends find themselves as garbage, as the lowest of the low, the discarded. They face death with some acceptance and mutual support. And as all hope is lost, are miraculously saved to a new and unexpected life which may be better than any of their plans.
True humility comes not through trying to be humble, but through admitting we’re pathetic, full of it, and basically, the worst of the worst.
The Pathetic one transmutes to Humility when empowered, owned and embodied.
– Genpo Roshi
I just watched Trolljegeren – The Troll Hunter – and was reminded of a couple of common themes in stories about trolls.
Trolls burst in daylight. As long as they remain in the dark, they are fine. But as soon as the rays of the sun hit them, they burst. This is familiar to me from my own experience.
I keep certain thoughts and emotions in the dark because they look scary, and this keeps them looking scary. And yet, when I bring awareness and attention to these – examining the stories and allowing the emotions, there is a shift. The light of awareness reveal them as innocent and – in themselves – harmless. The trolls burst. They are only harmful as long as they are kept in the dark.
Pan’s Labyrinth is about many things, but what stood out for me was mistakes and disobedience.
The main character was disobedient twice. First through innocence, as a mistake, and from not knowing the consequences. And the second time, deliberately, fully willing to take the consequences including losing her life. And that’s how she passed her test.