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By Ricky Maramba Philippine Copyright 2011 Ricky Maramba Smashwords Edition Smashwords Edition License Notes This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
INTRODUCTION 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 attention span can’t allow me to stay put watching a movie. “Avatar” is nearly 3 hours long. But with all the positive reviews and raves, I ended up seeing 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 even be considered environmentalist. This is not a typical action 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. 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.
SPIRITUAL SIMILARITIES Man’s Ignorance 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 of malice or for food. Some animals are territorial and Jake being in the wrong place at the wrong time has became a victim. Being a baby would roughly be synonymous with being “ignorant”. 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 conquer or be conquered, this film promotes oneness not only with other tribes or god, but also with animals and plants. Buddhist Sayings Spirituality became 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 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?” Shamanism 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.” This procedure is actually used in shamanism.
http://www.thewomenwarriors.net/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=602 The link states that the quote was originally located in http://www.magicalblend.com/library/readingroom/articles/kahuna.html 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 he are one, and function as one. 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 he 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 watched 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 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. The Incorporeal World 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 can say that Jake prefers his
masculine physical self as an avatar than 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 can 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 those 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, and see what you have. There are several scenes or even themes that 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.”
Blue as a Color of Spirituality Also notice the prevalence of the color “blue” in the quoted paragraph above. Blue, indigo, and violet are 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 uses orange. Blues are used to calm down people. Remember the “blue screen of death”. This is the screen that 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. Link to God 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. A Different God 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 not been taking sides 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. Spiritual Sex Scene 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 are heard and sometimes answered.” Luckily for Jake and Neytiri, recreational sex is not a taboo with the Navi.
Tunnel of light 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. 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. Reincarnation Jake at the end had himself permanently transferred to his avatar body. 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 as a human, but a Navi. Coincidence or On Purpose? I have no idea if James Cameron consciously placed those symbolisms in the movie or if his intuitive artists did so 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 that 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? THE IRRELEVANCE OF FAITH What is Faith http://www.yourdictionary.com/faith unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence
A lot of religions “require” faith. Without faith, a lot of religions will fall down like a stack of cards blown by the wind. In Pandora however, (the planet in the science fiction movie “Avatar“), faith is irrelevant. As stated in the definition above, “does not require proof or evidence”. We have seen that in several scenes in the movie, so many spiritual occurrences have occurred with evidence. The seeds of Eywa descending on Jake when Neytiri encounters Jake and correctly ‘predicting’ that Jake is actually one of the good guys. The binding of the Navi with their Direhorse and the Mountain Banshee. Jake being able to hear the “voices of the ancestors” by binding into the vines before he has sex with Neytiri. And finally Jake’s consciousness being transferred to his Avatar by Mo’at. Spirituality or Science? But wait, aren’t all those events due to science or technology? Can we say that the Navi were more advanced in a different way? Here on earth, science and spirituality seem to take two different courses, but not so on Pandora. The explanation of spiritual people here on earth is that the spiritual realm exists on a separate plane of existence, not material and hence can not be detected by our physical senses or physical instruments. When the Navi connect to their animals, are they doing so psychically or are they doing so the ‘normal’ way? Grace the scientist, even tried to speculate as to how the Navi interconnect, she said, “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….” Is spirituality really just science which we haven’t understood yet? If so, what will happen to “faith” in the future. Will “faith” disappear just like the dinosaurs disappeared years ago? As early as 1975 the book “Tao of Physics” was written to show the parallels between spirituality and science. http://www.shvoong.com/books/holy-scriptures/1847-tao-physics/ While this did not prove the theology of western religious doctrines, some physicists realized that they had landed right in the lap of perceptions foundational in the mystical traditions of Hinduism (Vedanta), Buddhism and Taoism. For many centuries, these traditions had spoken of such things as the complementarity of opposing principles and had considered the physical universe to be an illusion created by conditioned human perception, not an absolute reality in itself. In his book, Capra systematically explains the implications of quantum physics and then systematically discusses Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese thought, Taoism and Zen. Then he explains the parallels that quantum physics has with each of these forms of eastern mysticism. Although there has not been a full-scale rush of quantum physicists into ashrams or Zen monasteries, Capra points out that the great Nils Bohr, as one outstanding example, adopted the Taoist symbol of yin and yang in his personal coat of arms.
As early as the eight century, a book was written documenting what happens after death. This books contents seem to be similar to documentation in near-deathexperiences. http://www.near-death.com/evidence.html The Tibetan Book of the Dead, whose actual title is “The Great Liberation upon Hearing in the Intermediate State” or “Bardo Thodol”, has striking parallels with the NDEs of people who have died, experienced themselves floating out of their bodies, having what appears to be real afterlife events, and then being revived. It is traditionally believed to be the work of the legendaryPadma Sambhava in the 8th century A.D. The book acts as a guide for the dead during the state that intervenes death and the next rebirth. He is considered to be one of the first persons to bring Buddhism to Tibet. The Bardo Thodol is a guide that is read aloud to the dead while they are in the state between death and reincarnation in order for them to recognize the nature of their mind and attain liberation from the cycle of rebirth. Questioning vs. Faith Would you be shocked to know that Buddhism, one of the great religions of the world encourages questioning. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalama_Sutta Discerning Religious Teachings The Buddha proceeds to list the criteria by which any sensible person can decide which teachings to accept as true. Do not believe religious teachings, he tells the Kalamas, just because they are claimed to be true, or even through the application of various methods or techniques. Direct knowledge grounded in one's own experience can be called upon. He advises that the words of the wise should be heeded and taken into account. Not, in other words, passive acceptance but, rather, constant questioning and personal testing to identify those truths which you are able to demonstrate to yourself actually reduce your own stress or misery: Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon tradition, nor upon rumor, nor upon what is in a scripture, nor upon surmise, nor upon an axiom, nor upon specious reasoning, nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over, nor upon another's seeming ability, nor upon the consideration, "The monk is our teacher." Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness," enter on and abide in them.'
Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality? So what really is spirituality? Is it going to be the new science? Will other worlds or existences outside of our three dimensional world be discovered? Would you be surprised if I tell you that that is exactly what scientists now are speculating. In our world we have three dimensions of length, width and height plus the extra dimension of time (3+1). Time is considered “separate” since it is the only additional “dimension” that can only go forward, in the other dimensions you can go two ways, forward and backward, left and right etc. They say that there may be other worlds which are composed of more dimensions, and there may even exist areas where time does not exist. If you ask my opinion. Science will catch up with religion and explain the universe while a lot of religions will stay the way it is, the same way it has been for the past centuries, static and in some cases backward. While I respect the insights which mystics have given us centuries ago, I do not see any substantial improvement in the years after. Mystics who have been able to sense the truth and the fabric of the universe both visible and invisible have died and very few if any at all have been born to replace them. What we have then are some religions that instill “fear of the unknown” to their gullible followers in order to keep them loyal. “Proof” is there. Not enough proof to prove conclusively that life after death exists, but enough evidence to say that there is a good possibility. Even with all the near-death-experiences documented, a lot of scientists are still highly speculative. I don’t blame them. With all the previous religious stories they have been told when they were young, they probably thought this was just the same. We all just have to sit tight. I am quite sure that this century will provide us with a lot of surprises in terms of spirituality. For those still curious about the spirituality of the Navi, hopefully we won’t have to wait too long, hopefully James Cameron makes a sequel. 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 direction that “Avatar” has seemed to take. No moralizing, no need for faith, and a spirituality which can be believable and one that resonates with the times. ### Please check out my other book(s) at: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/rickymaramba
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