Ricky M.'s Thoughts

My thoughts on life, relationships, religion, spirituality, the paranormal and more.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Avatar and Spirituality

Spirituality is all over James Cameron's latest movie "Avatar", but not in places where you expect spirituality to be.

This review will assume that you have watched the film (warning, spoilers are included) as I will just lightly comment on the non-spiritual aspects of the film before getting quite in depth with the spiritual angle which I sense within the film.

I am not the typical movie watcher. I hardly watch movies since my short attention span would not allow me to stay put watching a movie. "Avatar" is nearly 3 hours long. But with all the positive reviews coming in from film critics and typical movie watchers, I could not help but watch it myself.



James Cameron has done it again. "Avatar" has greatly impressed a very large audience. Film critics as well as the typical moviegoers have given it an outstanding rating. The volume of movie tickets sold show the enthusiasm of the typical moviegoers to watch it. Other people like me who don't usually watch movies also end up seeing it. Several people are watching it multiple times probably impressed by the 3d version in several moviehouses.

Although the film's genre is science fiction, a broad spectrum of people are watching it too. The film has an anti-war theme. The humans even used the phrases, "shock and awe" and "fight terror with terror". The film could could even be considered environmentalist. This is not a typical war film like James Cameron's "Terminator" that appeals to your masculinity, but also a highly sensitive film that appeals to your feminine side with its angles of environmentalism and yes, spirituality.



Although some reviews have stated that some of the lines in the movie have been seen elsewhere, there are other angles which are quite new to me. In this film, the aliens are not exactly the enemy. The aliens are not the conquerors, but instead the ones to be conquered. The aliens though technically inferior, have a spirituality which is seemingly more evolved than that of humans.

Below is a good youtube that explains the planet Pandora



James Cameron has had this film in the back of his mind years back, but hesitated to produce it since the technology at that time was not good enough to create good visual effects. The first time I glanced at the trailer at "youtube", I assumed that the film was a cartoon.

James Cameron in this "youtube" post explains the techology in the film. The film is not an animation.



Although the CGI (computer generated imagery) and military hardware overwhelmed me on the onset, I was shocked to find the film with highly spiritual overtones.

This started as early as the first conversation between Jake Sully and Neytiri, a female Navi. After Neytiri rescues Jake from possible death due to his encounter with the animals, Neytiri raises her voice and says that he is "Like a baby". Funny, that Neytiri uses the word "baby". Neytiri feels that Jake is not killing the animals out malice or food. She feels that he is needlessly killing them since he could have prevented their attack in the first place. Some animals are territorial and Jake being in the wrong place at the wrong time has made him a victim. Being a baby would roughly be synonymous with being "ignorant". Ignorant in the sense that Jake does not know any better. Jake is also ignorant of the idea of living in harmony with nature. Neytiri assumes that Jake believes in control and not in harmony with the animals. Later in the film, this concept of "harmony with nature" will be one of the underlying themes of the movie which I find so beautiful. While highly capitalistic countries have underlying policies such as conquered or be conquered, this film promotes oneness not only with other tribes or god, but as well as the animals and the plants.

Spirituality then became even more obvious when Jake was brought to Neytiri's tribe and was face to face with Mo'at, Neytiri's mother. Mo'at was to decide the fate of Jake. Jake expressed willingness to learn the ways of the Navi, but Mo'at raised her voice and said, "It is hard to fill a cup that is already full". Jake replied quite quickly, "My cup is empty". These last two lines did it. I was hooked and was engrossed with the rest of the film, straining my ears to every line which any one of the Navi's said. Later even Jake became profound.

Just to show how profound those two lines were check out the quotes below.

http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbuddhistteachings/a/philosophy.htm
It's said that the only way to understand Buddhism is to practice it. Through practice, one perceives its transformative power. A Buddhism that remains in the realm of concepts and ideas is not Buddhism. The robes, ritual and other trappings of religion are not a corruption of Buddhism, as some imagine, but expressions of it.

There's a Zen story in which a professor visited a Japanese master to inquire about Zen. The master served tea. When the visitor's cup was full, the master kept pouring. Tea spilled out of the cup and over the table.

"The cup is full!" said the professor. "No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," said the master, "You are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

If you want to understand Buddhism, empty your cup.
As Neytiri goes around the forest with Jake, she teaches him the ways of the navi. Jake is taught to bind with a Direhorse by physically connecting his hair to the animal. Neytiri says, "The bond, feel her heartbeat, her breath, feel her strong legs, you may tell her what to do."

http://www.thewomenwarriors.net/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=602
One purely shamanic technique has been called grokking, a form of shapeshifting. The healer enters the etheric body and melds into that of the person, animal, or thing to be healed or repaired. Once consciousnesses are joined, the problem and solution are sensed and the defect fixed. You can grok people, animals, forces, or things.
Jake here is taught to bind with the animal so that the animal and him are one, so that they function as one living entity. Later, Jake will also use the same technique with a Mountain Banshee, a flying creature which Jake will learn to ride just as he rides his Direhourse. In some kinds of spirituality, when binding is done, the binder and bindee become one to such a degree that the binder does not have to use his intellect. He knows not because of logic, but he knows because in a way him and the object or living creature are one.

Later, even Jake and Neytiri bind to each other. Neytiri says, "inside. I see into you."

This binding and oneness is later explained by the film, Jake talks about what he is trying to comprehend from the Navi, he talks to himself and says, "flow of energy, spirit of animals, network of energy that flows through all living things".

Does this sound all too familiar? It should if you watch Star Wars.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076759/quotes
Obi-Wan: The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Star_Wars_Episode_IV:_A_New_Hope
Ben Kenobi: Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.

James Cameron goes to great lengths to make the movie have a mass appeal. Even with the profound spirituality intact, he tries to make the whole thing sound logical. Grace, the scientist, tries to explain the whole interconnection thing scientifically, "its more connections to the human brain, get it, its a network, its a global network and the navi can access it, they can upload and download data, memories...". When you come to think of it, the interconnectivity of the Navi are indeed like computers on a network or on the internet.

My heart goes out to Jake when he says, "Everything is backwards now, out there is the true world and here is the dream." Jake has fallen in love with the Navi and their culture. From a relatively shallow perspective, we could say that Jake prefers his masculine physical self as an avatar than with his crippled self as a human. From the point of view though of a highly spiritual being that can go to the other side and come back to the material world at will, this material plane could be considered 'the dream'. Have you ever really thought why the movie has been such a success? The movie (at least for me) runs me through a range of emotions which is very different from that of other movies. It's as if I have been experiencing heaven and Pandora could be said to mimic heaven. Take off the vicious animals, fights between tribes and see what you have.

There are several scenes or even themes which are evocative of an incorporeal and heavenly world.

First of all the whole movie has a planet which is quite luminous. Below are accounts of near death experiences. A near death experience occurs when the spirit, soul or astral body of a person leaves the physical body and travels elsewhere. In the next cases, the astral body travels to another incorporeal world.

http://www.near-death.com/nightingale.html
My transition was gradual as a result of having a terminal disease - as opposed to a sudden one incurred from accidents, heart attacks, etc. I became aware of a "Being of Light" enveloping me. Everything was stunningly beautiful - so vibrant and luminous … and so full of life - yes, life! – in ways that one would never see or experience on the physical plane. I was totally and completely enveloped in divine Love. It was unconditional love … in the truest sense of the word. I was in constant communion with this Light and always aware of its loving presence with me at all times. Consequently, there was no sense of fear whatsoever … and I was never alone. This was a special opportunity to experience being at one with the ALL - never separate … and never at a loss.

The colors were so beautiful - watching the Light whirl all round me, pulsating and dancing … making whooshing sounds … and being ever so playful at times … then very serious at other times. Many things would take on a luminous glow - a sort of soft peach color. Everything was so vibrant - even when I saw deep space! I was constantly in a state of awe … There were always beautiful beings round me as well - helping me … guiding me … reassuring me … and also pouring love into me. I was never alone.

http://www.near-death.com/andreason.html
Glorious. There are many levels and dimensions in the Realm. There are great cities very similar to the ones we live in now, only these places have great harmony and balance to them. I saw whole cities made of gold and precious stones. One city that always stays in the back of my mind is a great metropolis made entirely out of what looked to be sapphires. It glows with the most luminous blue and white Light. It reminds me of a white Christmas tree with beautiful blue glass balls. I had a knowing that this place was where Loving Christ-like communicators choose to gather and exchange thoughts. There is a tremendous amount of Love and Grace in Heaven. No matter where you go, the feeling of Love and Joy is everywhere. There is no other place you would rather be.

Also notice the prevalence of the color "blue" in the quoted paragraph above. Blue, indigo, and violet is supposed to be colors denoting high evolution. Red, orange, green are supposed to be more "materialistic" colors. Yellow is supposed to be somewhere in between. Try to notice color themes in popular occurrences in life. When it comes to food, use less spiritual colors. Don't use blue, indigo or violet. Those colors don't turn on the appetite. Mcdonalds uses red. Jollibee, the competitor of Mcdonalds here in the Philippines uses orange. Blues are used to calm down people. Remember the "blue screen of death". This is the screen which the windows operating system uses when it encounters an error. I wouldn't say that the Navi are very calm, a lot of the Navi expressed frustration or even anger several times, but their high spiritual evolution is suggested by blue.

Several scenes in the movie also have material things which suggest spiritual counterparts.

Large trees to the Navi are very sacred. These trees could symbolize the connection of the Navi to their God Eywa. The trees could be said to reach up to the sky reminiscent of ancient people creating towers to reach god. When the Navi pray as one, they pray around the tree. Then there are also scenes where white luminous vines reach down the tree just short of reaching down on the Navi's heads. The vines could signify the energy of Eywa reaching down to heal the Navi. In one scene Jake even connects his hair to one of the vines and hears voices. The Navi have the capability to bind with everything, Jake binded with his Direhorse, Mountain Banshee and even the tree.

If you will notice, the large tree have double helices (plural for helix). Helices are sometimes used as the centers of objects or living entities. Energy is said to flow within the helix, similar to the center of a magnet. Humans are said to have these helices at their spines. Clairvoyants are said to see these helices even in the centers of angels.

Now talking of angels, remember the "seeds of Eywa"? These are those white things which enveloped Jake at the beginning of the film. That scene prompted Neytiri to bring Jake to her tribe. Did you notice the roughly 'spherical structure, with "hairs" emanating from the top, flowing to the bottom. They look just look like a magnet with one pole only visible. In spirituality, there is this saying that "like attracts like". If the "seeds of Eywa" were indeed angels, approaching Jake and engulfing him would definitely send a message to Neytiri.

http://www.esotericscience.org/article5a.htm
So, if we could describe a microscopic standing wave pattern that appeared particle-like and incorporated a vortex within its structure, we might have the basis for a theory that could unite all the current variants in modern physics. Figure 1 appears to meet these criteria – it is a drawing of a subatomic particle reproduced from Occult Chemistry by Charles Leadbeater and Annie Besant, which was first published in 1909, although a similar diagram was published in a journal in 1895. Leadbeater explains that each subatomic particle is composed of ten loops which circulate energy from higher dimensions. Back in 1895, he knew that physical matter was composed from "strings" – 10 years before Einstein's theory of relativity and 80 years before string theory.



Eywa is not your typical theistic God. Neytiri says, "our great mother does not take sides Jake, she protects only the balance of life." Well ok, at the end it seems that Neytiri ate her words, but if she said that, it's possible that Eywa has been doing that previously. The word "God" is different to different people. Some will consider God to be simply watching, but a lot(if you notice what people pray for these days) will hope that God can be "coerced" to side with them.

One scene which elicits a different kind of emotion is when Jake and Neytiri "bind". According to some websites, this sex scene will be available in the dvds. But even without any sex the progression in that scene when Jake is told that he can choose a woman makes it clear that they will finally make love. Under the tree with the luminous vines dropping, sex becomes a holy experience(vines as earlier discussed probably symbolize the energy from God). The holiness of the place is also reinforced when Neytiri says, "this is a place where prayers to heard and sometimes answered." Luckily for Jake and Neytiri, recreational sex is not a taboo with the Navi.

When Jake and Grace transfer from their human bodies to their avatars, one can see them as if going through a tunnel of light. Below is a summarization of people who have had NDE's (near death experiences)

http://www.near-death.com/experiences/research16.html
One of the nine elements that generally occur during NDEs is the tunnel experience. This involves being drawn into darkness through a tunnel, at an extremely high speed, until reaching a realm of radiant golden-white light. Also, although they sometimes report feeling scared, they do not sense that they were on the way to hell or that they fell into it. Instead of a tunnel, some people report rising suddenly into the heavens and seeing the Earth and the celestial sphere as they would be seen by astronauts in space. Once on the other side of the tunnel, or after they have risen into the heavens, the dying meet people who glow with an inner light. Often they find that friends and relatives who have already died are there to greet them.




One twist to the experience is the final moments of Grace. Grace was said to go to Eywa. Grace experience brilliant light at the end of the tunnel.

Jake at the end had his permanent transfer to his avatar body done. He even hinted about it with his last line "my birthday after all". The line signifies his new life as if being reincarnated into a new body, but this time not of a human, but a Navi.

I have no idea if James Cameron consciously placed those symbolisms there or if his intuitive artists did under his supervision. Nevertheless what came out of it was a damn good movie which stirred the very innards of my soul.

As stated by Plato and also stated similarly in the book "Conversations with God"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversations_with_God
We are not here to learn anything new but to remember what we already know

Is one of the reasons of success of the movie due to our 'remembering' what we already know? Are we remembering a society or belief system which we existed in or believed in the past?

Just think of it, rather feel, what exactly in the movie "Avatar" did you get drawn to.

For those still curious about the spirituality of the Navi, hopefully we won't have to wait too long, James Cameron has stated that he plans to make a trilogy!

http://www.topsongs.ismywebsite.com/?p=3109
“We’ll follow Jake and Neytiri,” Cameron told MTV’s Josh Horowitz in an interview at the pre-release “Avatar” junket in London. “I have a trilogy-scaled arc of story right now, but I haven’t really put any serious work into writing a script,” he said.

Hopefully James Cameron will think by then that our "cups are not yet full, but empty." It is nice to see spirituality go mainstream with the same angle that "Avatar" has seemed to do. No moralizing, no need for faith, and a spirituality which is believable and one that resonates with the times.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Aldrin said...

I'm glad to you liked the movie, Ricky. It was nothing new, but it was just as potent. Especially for a pagan like me.

PS: Welcome back to blogging!

-- Pronghorn

6:32 AM  
Blogger Ricky M. said...

I noticed too that their spirituality was quite different. I think this is why the Vatican didn't like the movie so much.

http://movies.yahoo.com/news/movies.ap.org/vatican-says-avatar-no-masterpiece-ap

Make sure to check out www.theintuitivethinker.wordpress.com

That is another website that I write for. This blogspot website is solely mine.

I am thinking of commenting on that article very soon.

6:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, new to the site, thanks.

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very good!

1:06 PM  

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