Category Archives: Seekers Guide To Great Movies

These are movies that I find great teachings in.

Whale Rider (2003)

Whale RiderUneasy lies the head that wears the crown. A Maori tribe must contend with the distinctly non-traditional concept of having a female leader when young Pai’s (Keisha Castle-Hughes) twin brother — the intended heir to the throne — dies during childbirth. Now, she must struggle to prove herself. Stars Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton, Cliff Curtis and Grant Roa. Written and directed by Niki Caro.
Starring: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, More
Director: Niki Caro

If you’ve already seen the whale Rider, you’ll know that Paka, the ruling Chief of the Maori people, strictly adheres to Maori traditions as they were passed down to him. That’s my focus for this installment of The Seekers Guide To Great Movies. It is within Paka’s example of rigidly held truths that we can find an answer to the question I always ask!

What’s in it for us?

When is being right, actually wrong? What happens when when we do what Paka does, hold knowledge rigidly as TRUTH? In Paka’s case, the result is an inability to see any other possibilities. Other possibilities exist all the time, all around him, but his mind, firmly made up, can’t perceive them. Paka’s traditions say his son, grandson or suitable a tribal male will replace him when he can no longer lead his people. His son rejects the responsibility in favor of more modern pursuits. His grandson dies at birth, only a granddaughter survives and the young men of the tribe fail to measure up to the task!
Translation of Paka’s belief: The first absolute requirement of a leader is manhood. We watch how it blinds him. How it actually creates his problem!

A reoccurring metaphor in this film comes in the form of rope. It first appears in a scene where Pai is watching Paka trying to start an outboard motor.
Paka: “You see that there, look at it closely, what do you see?”
Pai: “Lots of little bits of rope all twisted together.”
Paka: “That’s right, weave together the threads of Pikea, so that our line remains strong.” “Each one of those threads is one of your ancestors.” “All joined together and strong.” “All the way back to that whale of yours.”

Paka then tries to start the outboard motor with the rope and it breaks. Referring to the rope that he just used to describe that strength is found in threads twisted together, Paka says: “Useless.” (Casting it aside.) “I will fetch another.”  While he is gone, Pai figures out how to weave the rope back together making it strong enough, once again, for her to start the motor!  Pai yells: “Paka it’s working Paka it’s working!” Paka returns at the sound of her outcry. His response to her accomplishment is, “I don’t want you to do that again.” “It’s dangerous.”
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  • He could have recognized her accomplishment.
  • He could have praised her.
  • He could have done any number of things that allowed for a better overall outcome.
  • He could have recognized this hint at an answer to his problem!

But his perspective doesn’t allow him to see any of those other choices!

What’s in it for us?
Based upon his perspective of the way things should be, Paka is right!  But being right in his way results in a shared experience that is emotionally negative. An experience defined by anger, frustration, disappointment and even fear.

For Paka,

Paka's Choices

What other way could he choose to be right?
What beliefs might allow him to be right and feel right?

Other Possibilities

What principles can be employed if we find ourselves in Paka’s situation?

Responsibility: My perspective is in conflict with what is right now.  I’m assigning negative emotions as a result.
Initiative: What result do I really want and need right now? How else could I look at this moment? What’s right about it, right now?

Haven’t seen Whale Rider? See it, and witness whole tribe transformed with one man’s paradigm shift!  What’s beautiful in film, is infinitely more so in our lives!
…….How are you right?

Remember you are what you watch!

Mark

Our strength as a people does not lie in the dogmatic adherence to the traditions represented in the knowledge handed down by elders and leaders.  Instead it lies in the adherence of the community as a whole to the principles upon which that knowledge and those traditions were based.
Seloge

The Incredibles (2004)

The IncrediblesMeet the Incredibles, the award-winning Pixar team’s superhero family that comes out of banal, suburban hiding to don their old costumes and save the world again. Bob Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) was forced to give up his swashbuckling days and log in time as an insurance adjuster and raise his three children with his formerly heroic wife (Holly Hunter). But when he receives a mysterious assignment, it’s time to break out the super suit one more time.

Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, More
Director: Brad Bird

The Incredibles is an opportunity to question the wisdom of conforming to the expectations of others, and of society in general. A point that The Incredibles makes for us, if we choose to see it, is that if the imperative is to fit in, to be like everyone else, then what is being special. About 15 minutes into this film the son, Dash, and his mother, the forced to retire superhero, Elastigirl, are riding home from a visit to the principal’s office, where Dash is being scolded for using his powers of speed to be mischievous in class. Dash says to his mother “Dad always says our powers made us special”, his mother says “everyone is special Dash.” Dash says “which is another way of saying, no one is.”

This family of supers known as The Incredibles, is a metaphor for every person in every family living within a society that is sending us a mixed message. Be great, be successful, be productive, but be all these things within a set of expectations that society says is acceptable. Fit in, conform, and don’t rock the boat. This voice of society tells us which skills and professions will make us more valuable than others and which skills and professions lesser members of our society, those with less intelligence, less beauty, less charm, less ambition, pursue. Where in these clear messages that say conform or else, do we find the space to discover who we really are, what makes us special, what are we good at, what are we passionate about, where is my voice to be found, what is the highest expression of me?

What’s In It For Us?
What The Incredibles so playfully gives us is the opportunity to discover that under the pressure of society’s narrow framework of conformity, we have come to fear that we are inadequate in some way. What can we do to turn that around? How about we redefine the power and meaning of fear?
Redefining Fears

Now with fear powerfully redefined to say go, then let us choose our fears carefully! After all, what we put our attention to is what expands! So, from now on let’s fear that we are infinitely powerful, that we shine so brightly that the light could be described as blinding, only to discover, that by shining that brightly we give other people permission to do the same. In doing so we give birth to a new kind of conformity, one that takes no persuasion, no convincing, and no pressure from voices or expectations coming from outside of us. It is a natural conformity of birthright.

We are all born a perfect reflection of that which creates us. Call it what ever you want, the name doesn’t matter. The entire universe and all life within it are a model of perfection and we are a unique piece of that glittering and diverse perfection. Because of that birthright, the perfection is not just in a few of us, it is in us all.

Remember you are what you watch.

Mark

Meet the Incredibles, the award-winning Pixar team’s superhero family that comes out of banal, suburban hiding to don their old costumes and save the world again. Bob Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) was forced to give up his swashbuckling days and log in time as an insurance adjuster and raise his three children with his formerly heroic wife (Holly Hunter). But when he receives a mysterious assignment, it’s time to break out the super suit one more time.

Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, More
Director: Brad Bird

The Incredibles is an opportunity to question the wisdom of conforming to the expectations of others, and of society in general. A point that The Incredibles makes for us, if we choose to see it, is that if the imperative is to fit in, to be like everyone else, then what is being special. About 15 minutes into this film the son, Dash, and his mother, the forced to retire superhero, Elastigirl, are riding home from a visit to the principal’s office, where Dash is being scolded for using his powers of speed to be mischievous in class. Dash says to his mother “Dad always says our powers made us special”, his mother says “everyone is special Dash.” Dash says “which is another way of saying, no one is.”

This family of supers known as The Incredibles, is a metaphor for every person in every family living within a society that is sending us a mixed message. Be great, be successful, be productive, but be all these things within a set of expectations that society says is acceptable. Fit in, conform, and don’t rock the boat. This voice of society tells us which skills and professions will make us more valuable than others and which skills and professions lesser members of our society, those with less intelligence, less beauty, less charm, less ambition, pursue. Where in these clear messages that say conform or else, do we find the space to discover who we really are, what makes us special, what are we good at, what are we passionate about, where is my voice to be found, what is the highest expression of me?

What’s In It For Us?
What The Incredibles so playfully gives us is the opportunity to discover that under the pressure of society’s narrow framework of conformity, we have come to fear that we are inadequate in some way. What can we do to turn that around? How about we redefine the power and meaning of fear?

Monsieur Ibrahim (2003)

Monsieur Ibrahim1960s Paris serves as the backdrop for Francois Dupeyron’s heartwarming drama. Momo (Pierre Boulanger), a teenage orphan, lives in a working-class neighborhood and has very few friends — save for the kindly local prostitutes, who adore him. Momo soon befriends the older and wiser shopkeeper Ibrahim (Omar Sharif), who soon becomes a father figure for Momo and takes him on a journey of self-discovery that will change both of their lives.
Starring: Omar Sharif, Pierre Boulanger, More
Director: Francois Dupeyron

There is a simple beauty and wisdom in this movie. Omar Sharif comes out five year hiatus because of the quality of this script! You won’t regret having taken the time to watch this film. It has much to offer us as we witness the blossoming of human potential that results from the relationship between the grocer Ibrahim and the young boy, Momo.

What’s In It For Us
What’s in it for us are many powerfully simple lessons in paradigm shifting, self-worth, love, trust and more. And even more powerful than the lessons are demonstration that these lessons don’t have to take a lifetime of hard work, it can happen in an instant, as the following dialogue shows us.

Ibrahim: Momo how come you never smile?
Momo: I can’t afford to. Smiling is for the rich.
Ibrahim: No, smiling is what makes you happy.
Momo: When I say smiling is for the rich I mean it’s for happy people.
Ibrahim: You’re wrong, smiling is what makes you happy.
Momo: Like how?
Ibrahim: Try it you’ll see.

From this point on much of Momo’s world changes as he begins to transform the reality of his experience by employing the power of a smile in his world. Soon he is teaching others around him on Blue Street, about the power of the smile!

Ibrahim also gives Momo Wise words about what love really is, what happens when we give it and when we don’t. In a scene with Momo and Ibrahim, Momo has just made the painful discovery that his girlfriend dumped him for another boy. He takes it to mean that the other boy was better than him and therefore won her heart.

Momo: There is always a Paulie eating me up inside. (Paulie is a brother that his father always measures him against.)
Ibrahim: It doesn’t matter, your love for her is yours. It belongs to you. She rejects it, but she can’t destroy it. She’s just missing out on it. What you give Momo, is yours for good. What you keep is lost forever.

Momo clearly is shows an openness to Ibrahim’s offering of a new understanding of love. This moment brings to to mind this question.

What’s the difference in a young mind and the mind of someone much older? And what is the significance of that difference on the willingness to consider a new perspective?

One answer is, conditioning! The cumulative effect of memories and the classification of them into good and bad, right and wrong steadily gives an individual the stuff that perspective is made of. As the memories begin to pile up, the tendency to ask simple exploratory questions like why, what or how begins to fade. Have you ever known a young child to drive you crazy with the question why? Ever wondered why they stop? What has happened in the mind to cause the diminishment of wonder?

Eventually the mind is made up about nearly everything it experiences almost in the moment it is experienced. For myself, when I came upon this understanding of the effects of my conditioning, I chose to adopt the following belief.

As I experience things, my conditioning might limit me to only those possibilities represented by the nearest ibrahim1match that my mind can find in it’s memory. Knowing this, I choose to refrain from comparison, and the conclusions it offers, so I may be open to the infinite possibilities, not yet experienced, that are offered in that moment.

ibrahim2I’m curious, do you disagree with this notion? If so, what fragment of your memory, what belief, contradicts it? Does your fragment give you greater power than the power of being open to infinite possibilities? If the answer is yes then I am open to any perspectives and understandings offered that is a key to more effectively saying “yes” to that which I imagine or desire. Your comments are always welcome.

Remember, you are what you watch.

Mark

House of Flying Daggers (2004)

House Of Flying DaggersNear the end of the Tang Dynasty, police deputies Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Leo (Andy Lau) tangle with Mei (Ziyi Zhang), a dancer suspected of having ties to a revolutionary faction known as the House of Flying Daggers. Completely bowled over by Mei’s alluring beauty, the deputies concoct a plan to save her from capture, with Jin leading her north on a perilous journey into the unknown. Zhang Yimou directs.

Starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, More
Director: Yimou Zhang

Don’t let the movie blurb above throw you off of this movie.  There is way more going on here than this blurb leads you to believe!  House of Flying Daggers is absolutely brilliant.  This film has it all. A Compelling story, well-written minimalist dialogue, exquisite cinematography, special-effects visuals and locations, breathtakingly artful Chinese dance and drumming, martial arts choreography and some of the finest acting that I’ve seen to date!  But most importantly, from this writer’s perspective, is the way it captures the essence of conflict and the very nature of love. Which brings me right to the point of The Seekers Guide To Great Movies.

What’s in it for us?

The message of this story is this:

Life is not about being right, it is about being whole, and one cannot be truly whole without love.

This is what is demonstrated to us by the main characters in this beautiful film. Two characters, whose relationship begins with mutual deception, eventually find themselves deeply in love, in full mutual awareness that they are on opposing sides of an ancient and deadly conflict.  As in any conflict, each side believes that they are right. That is the nature of conflict.

In the face of something that they know is true love, can they choose to exchange the position they have fought for their entire lives, one that is based on fear and hatred, for an alternative position, one of love, that allows them to be whole?

Witness the holding fast to opposing positions, within deadly conflict, in the face of love. There is a moment where two lovers discuss the future. He says, “When can we see each other again?” she says, “We cannot.” “We belong to two opposing sides.” “If we meet again one of us will have to die.”

After watching this film I was asked, “Was that a true story?” After a moment I answered, “it is the most  true story there is!”

This film can show us that if we loosen our grip on positions that keep us in conflict with others, there lies the potential to discover a third common alternative that allows for what really matters in our lives. Being whole rather than being right.

I highly recommend that you watch it with the original Chinese soundtrack with subtitles. You can’t catch the true emotions and degrees of intensity being conveyed by these fine actors if you choose the path of a dubbed in voiceover audio track, in your preferred language.

Remember you are what you watch.

Mark

Sliding Doors (1998)

Sliding DoorsTwo universes unfold in Sliding Doors, a romantic fantasy about alternate possibilities. Londoner Gwyneth Paltrow is shown in two scenarios, each propelled by the same incident. In the first scenario, she squeezes through the subway train’s doors on time and catches her boyfriend fooling around. In the second version, she’s stuck on the train and returns to her flat, none the wiser.
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah, More

Director: Peter Howitt

If you haven’t seen Sliding Doors, the blurb above and gives you a good idea of what to expect.  For the seeker movie lover, this film is a chance for a voyeuristic ride through the answers to a classic question that almost everyone has asked themselves at some point in their life.  The question, What if? That question can take on two very distinct forms depending on who you are and how you look at the world. First, here is the difference between the two forms.

The difference between two forms of the “What if” question.

Version 1: is about the random event.
Version 2: is about the response to the event.

Here are the two forms:

Form 1: What if, ______________________? How would my life and be different? (fill in the blank with some random thing out of your control.) Example: What if, I hadn’t met ______, and gotten married?
Form 2: What if, I had ________________ How would my life and be different? (fill in the blank with a choice and action different than the one that you took) Example: What if, I had ended this relationship after discovering my partner was having an affair?

Interestingly enough the difference between these two versions is the same as the difference between opinions on either side of an age-old philosophical debate.

Do we live in a universe ruled by determinism? Or do we live in a universe ruled by free will?

No matter which side of that debate you are on, you are right, and your experience will prove it! There is another option however that you can choose to believe if you want to. And the only reason that one should choose to believe what I’m about to share is that it gives them more power in the creation of their own life.

Got power?

slifingdoors1

The following belief can give you more!

I live in a universe that is both of free will and determinism simultaneously! I believe it is how I respond to what happens to me, instead of what happens to me, that creates my life. I am self determined.

Examples of other kinds of determinism would be; genetic determinism, economic determinism, psychic determinism, social determinism etc.

It is a very powerful and proactive decision to choose to believe that no matter what cards are dealt to you in your life it is what you do in the gap between stimulus, and response, that creates your life. The stimulus is the random event and the response is the action you take following the stimulus. No matter who you are, or how bad things might seem to us, there is a gap between stimulus and response. It is a conscious choice to widen that gap and allow yourself to see more possibilities in every decision you make. In that gap is where the active choosing occurs. It is the domain of the proactive mind.

The principles that guide the proactive person are:

  • Responsibility
  • Initiative

What’s in it for us?

Sliding doors is terrific film and an incredible opportunity to witness what I have just described. I recommend that you watch it again and look for the difference between the two different scenarios that are given to you. Try to identify the moments that Gwyneth Paltrow’s character is taking responsibility and showing initiative toward changing the conditions of her life, rather than just taking her lumps and playing the victim to a series of events completely out of her control.

Remember you are what you watch.

Mark

Fearless (1993)

FearlessSan Francisco architect Max Klein (Jeff Bridges) miraculously survives a plane crash and emerges a changed man. When Max’s bizarre behavior alienates his wife (Isabella Rossellini) and son, airline psychiatrist Bill Perlman (John Turturro) puts Max in touch with guilt-ridden fellow crash survivor Carla Rodrigo (Rosie Perez), who lost her 2-year-old in the disaster. Working together, can Max and Carla find their way back to emotional equilibrium?

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Isabella Rossellini, More

Director: Peter Weir

W hat’s in it for us?

This movie allows us to ask this question about the quality of our actions in our own lives; Do my actions in my life have the quality of acts of creation, or are my actions better described as acts of maintenance?

How can we tell the difference?

Acts of creation, are motivated by clearly imagined desires for our life. These acts intentionally move us toward the fulfillment of those desires. A life like this demonstrates an anticipation of and excitement about the coming results!

Acts of maintenance: There is no clearly defined and desirable destination that is being moved towards. A life like this doesn’t demonstrate the anticipation and excitement of knowing that it is moving towards the fulfillment of desires. Instead it reflects an uneasy sense of striving to avoid what it doesn’t want. In this kind of life actions are chosen to maintain a distance from those things.

Imagine being in a car and taking a trip toward a very exciting and desirable destination. This trip has been fearless1planned far in advance, all of the details about the excitement and pleasure that the experience of the chosen destination has to offer, have been imagined again and again during the preparation of this trip. How would it feel to be in that car? What would the facial expressions be like? If there were more than one person in the car what would the conversation sound like?

Now imagine traveling in a car without a chosen and desirable destination in mind. Instead of that, there isfearless2 only a sense of where you don’t want to be. All the driving decisions are based upon the need to avoid places you don’t want to be, but never result in getting any closer to any place where you do want to be. How does it feel to be in that car? What would the facial expression be like? If there are more than one person in the car what with the conversation sound like?

In Fearless the main character Max Klein was maintaining the absence of fear. His new belief system and therefore his actions after surviving the plane crash were not aligned with creativity. He focused all of his attention on the saving of other people with no consideration for his own needs or desires. In his recollection of the crash experience he remembers himself, in the moments before impact, surrendering his fear of death. Whether this is a real memory or imagined doesn’t matter. What does matter is what he chooses to do with it. In the days and weeks following the crash he begins to formulate a new belief system that tell him that the absence of fear was the very thing that allowed him to survive.

For survivor Max Klein, life now equaled the absence of fear.

It became enough for him to avoid the presence of fear rather than move toward the presence of that which he desired. His actions became acts off maintenance rather than acts of creation. The absence of fear represented life, rather than the experience and fulfillment of self chosen goals and desires that were worthy of his pursuit.

This illustrates an age-old discussion about human existence and the relationship between the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. The discussion of this relationship and its significance is often way oversimplified simply because in discussion we rarely reach beyond our intellectual intelligences.

We are not just mind; we are mind, body, heart and spirit.

In the formulation of our idea of a life worthy of living we must access all of those components and the intelligence that they represent. For example, in the pursuit of pleasure, is the pleasure worthy of our pursuit, and why do we seek that pleasure? Do we seek it because it offers us an opportunity to be a more complete and pure expression of ourselves, or does it represent a need to distract us from a pain of another sort, as in the seeking of some form of physical pleasures to avoid emotional pain. It works for a short awhile, but the pain returns when the pleasure is past. If we simply live in our minds then it would be enough to formulate the opinions and belief systems that guide our actions in our lives with just our intellect. But we don’t just live in our minds. To be whole, we are better served to access the intelligences of our entire being to get a more complete guidance of what to choose for our lives. This is the kind of oversimplification the Max Klein suffered in fearless. His new belief system was entirely intellectual, a reaction to traumatic experience of near-death. For Max Klein, life equaled the absence of fear, and so his life became about the avoidance of it.

Look at other life on earth! If a plant stops growing, developing and expanding, it’s dying! If we stop growing developing and expanding in our own lives we are not living at all, we’re slowly dying as Max Klein was in Fearless. In life, can we just avoid things we don’t desire and call that a life? We need to have worthy goals and desires that we’re moving towards, each action being one of creation toward the fulfillment of them. In the end Max Klein saw the light, and instead of being the savior, he decided it was he who needed saving.

Watch this film again and pay particular attention to the significance of the strawberries. Remember early in the film, he tested his new belief system and ate a bowl of strawberries when he knew he shouldn’t. This was not an act of creation. Max Klein was not moving toward a desire to enjoy strawberries. Instead he was proving his new belief system, that the absence of fear equals life.

Remember, you are what you watch!

Mark

Faraway, So Close! (1993)

Far Away So CloseRemember “City Of Angels”, starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan? That drew inspiration from a 1987 film released from Wim Wenders, called “Wings of Desire”. Six years later, his follow-up film in the same style and theme, “Faraway so Close” was released. These two Wim Wenders films are pure, meaning of life, metaphors that can offer us transformative realizations if were ready for them!  For this months Seekers Guide review I’ve chosen, Faraway so Close, a moving and poetic interpretation of the lives of humans from the eyes of an angel only newly born into mortal existence.  From the many possible answers to the usual question “what’s in it for us”, I chose to explore Casiel’s observations on the nature of a human’s reality.

Each one creates his own world within his own vision and hearing. He remains a prisoner in it, and from his cell he sees the cells of others.”

Those are the words of our main character, Casiel, an angel who chooses to become human. In order to have a reference to what Casiel represents in this film, let’s look at these words from Carlos Castaneda,

“Are we physical beings having an occasional spiritual experience, or are we spiritual beings having a physical experience?”

By observing the actions of humanity it is clear that the perspective in place is more in line with; we’re physical beings having an occasional spiritual experience. By contrast, Casiel’s perspective is clearly of a spiritual being having a physical experience. The difference lay in the contents of the memories. The human memory contains a lifetime of memories that have conditioned a belief of fundamental separateness from one another.  The content of Casiel’s mind on the other hand does not contain those kinds of memories.  His memory is that of an angel, the experience of being absolutely connected to everything that is.

Let’s say, we hold a belief in a greater power, and for the sake of analysis, let’s call that power spirit. If that power is responsible for creating us and all life, then our source is spirit. By choosing that belief we can now choose to perceive ourselves, like Casiel, as spiritual beings having a physical experience.  Now, if we made that choice, would we find ourselves observing our human existence in the way that Casiel observes it? The answer is probably not. Why that is, can be found in the difference between Casiel’s memory, and our own memory. It bears repeating here. Casiel’s memory is the memory of an angel, the experience of pure spirit, of connection to everything. He is filtering his experience as a human, through that lens. Our own recallable memory, is of personal, not shared, pain and pleasure, creating the foundations of belief that we are fundamentally separate from one another, which is a completely different lens. I think Einstein said, “The world is exactly how you see it. Change the way you look at things, what you look at changes.” This movie illustrates that.

Check out this next line from Casiel, when you read it, remember that he is a physical being with only memories of complete connection, among beings whose memory strongly suggests the opposite.  Separateness. …..

“So this is loneliness Raphaela.  It’s really bad.  No one hears what the other feels. No one looks into the others heart.  Nobody asks for anything, not even for directions.  What am I doing here? Just watching day turn to night and back to day. Nothing makes sense.”

With every line that Casiel delivers throughout this film, you can begin to get an understanding that the reality of existence in all of its details can be just a matter of perspective, and therefore choose-able! In the case of this film just two choices are illustrated; Casiel’s perspective of connection. And the human perspective of disconnection. What if we chose to perceive an infinity of choices, none being right or wrong, each one offering a different choose-able result?

Since Casiel is now a human, he too becomes subject to the conditioning effects of experience and memory. That experience soon leaves him overwhelmed by time and the rapid pace at which things pass for humans. Watch the movie to see where that goes.

“We humans are confined by what’s visible Raphaela. Only what we can see matters.  What is invisible doesn’t count. Only the things we can touch truly exist for us.”

These lines begin to define Casiel’s role in this film. He is the inner voice, the conscience, of the human race, peaking out from behind the clouds of memory to point out that we aren’t seeing the invisible connection that binds us one to another and to all life. Spirit. As a result we are confined by the limits of what we can see. Watch this film and you may see that were only scratching the surface here. Faraway so Close is a sure winner for all you Seeker movie watchers.

Remember, you are what you watch! ……….and popcorn is good for you!

__________________________________________________

For those who have requested more about implementing the ideas we find in movies, this is a new feature of the Seekers Guide.

How do I use it?

This is how I use the concept we’ve explored in “Faraway So Close” in my own life and as a coach.

Step 1: Do I believe that I exist due to a higher power? The answer is yes.

Step 2: I choose to believe that I came into this world from pure spirit and therefore I’m still connected to it. I believe this not because it is right. I believe this because it offers me more choices, which support the fulfillment of my desires  than another belief I could choose. In other words, it is not about being right it’s about being whole.

Step 3: My choice in step 2 means that I now see myself like Casiel, a spiritual being having a physical experience. I’m not just a body. I am body, mind, heart and spirit.  I am no longer mostly guided by the needs and desires of my body and the contents of my mind.

Step 4: My heart is wise and my spirit is connected to all that there is. From now on my actions are guided by those.

Step 5: My new guides want to pull me towards worthy goals. By being clear about what I want and why, the choices I am shown are in line with the fulfillment of those desires.

Step 6: Finally, I immediately translate these choices that support my desires, into new actions. I take them without delay. I now am enjoying the results of those actions and more.

Our lives change when our actions change. Our actions change when our thoughts change. Our thoughts change when our beliefs change. It’s not linear like that though. It is circular.  A new belief without action is only an idea.  Our lives are the result of our past actions, which confirm our working beliefs. It is the new action that will create a more desirable result, which creates new memories that prove to us the value of a new idea. If you like the result, you’ll do it again and again. Only then is that idea officially a belief. Think of changing our beliefs like a test drive in a car. To do it, we have to get in the car and start it up, drop it in gear and step on the gas!  Do you like it?  Is it everything that you desire in a car? Then own it. If don’t like it, even a little, go back and try another one.

Whether you believe in higher power or not, the freedom of choice is the most powerful freedom we have. Our actions and our thoughts are only limited by the choices that we fail to notice. Infinite choices lie in the gap between what stimulates you and how you respond to it. The wider the gap, the more choices you will see.  How wide is your gap? You can make it wider. It’s a matter of choice!

Somewhere In Time (1980)

Somewhere In TimeIn this unabashedly romantic film, an elderly woman approaches playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) and presses a pocket watch into his hand whispering, “Come back to me.” Years later, Collier becomes obsessed with a picture of an early 1900s actress (Jane Seymour) and discovers that she’s the woman who gave him the watch. Collier wills himself back in time to find the woman, and the pair begins a love affair out of time.

Starring: Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Director: Jeannot Szwarc

This is one of my favorite films of all time. In fact this film is the one that caused me to begin looking to film for examples and guidance on my own path of personal growth. While it did very poorly at the box office in 1980, it has become one of the most loved and owned films of all time. This is understandable on many levels. Whether you have seen the movie once, twice or a dozen times, I’d like to invite you to watch it again from the perspective I’m going to talk about in this issue of the Seekers Guide To Great Movies.

What’s in it for us? A very clear example of a powerful first step toward creating the life that you want. It sounds something like this:

Imagine yourself surrounded by the conditions that you would like to create in your life. Another way to put that is, to begin with the end in mind.

At one point in the film, this first step is exactly what Richard Collier, played by Christopher Reeve, is doing when attempting to travel back in time to be with the beautiful Elise McKenna played by Jane Seymour. He re-creates every detail of his room at the grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island to reflect a reality nearly 80 years before. In his first attempt, after he has imagined himself surrounded by the conditions that he would like to create in his life, he is unsuccessful because of a single detail. If you’ve already watched the film, you’ll remember the scene well. If you haven’t watched the film this won’t spoil it for you. His failure is caused by his use of a cassette tape recorder to play an affirmation that represents where he wants to be in time. And no matter how hard he tries, he does not succeed because the tape recorder cannot exist in a turn-of-the-century hotel room. How is the tape recorder relevant to the life creation model that is being demonstrated?

The tape recorder is a metaphor for an unsupportive or negative belief that keeps us from having the life that we want.

As the scene unfolds Richard realizes that the tape recorder is preventing him from achieving his desired goal. He eliminates the tape recorder from the visualized reality he is trying to create and succeeds in traveling back in time.

The realization of what was keeping him from achieving his desired goal, is a metaphor for a moment of self-discovery, when one becomes aware of limiting beliefs and thoughts that keep us from living the life that we want to live.

In real life we don’t find those under the bed! We find them through self inquiry, by asking ourselves questions like; What do I believe? And how do these beliefs support the fulfillment of my desires?

Back to the film. Once Richard has successfully relocated himself back in time we get to enjoy the rediscovery of the love they have for one another. This whole film is pregnant with metaphor and powerful concepts they can help to guide us on many levels so there is a lot of other stuff here that we could talk about. But I’m just going to stick to the one concept for you to explore.

As we near the end of the film, there is a moment, after a night of love, when Richard is clowning for his beauty Elise. He reaches into the pocket of his dated suit, the comical subject of his performance for her, and produces a penny revealing a date from the future. The moment he sees penny’s date, his new reality is shattered and he is instantly transported back to his own time 80 years in the future. It is an especially powerful scene, tragically romantic, the kind of stuff that great movies are made of, but what’s in this scene for us?

The penny is another metaphor for the power of our personal belief systems to make or break our efforts at living the lives that we want to live.

The penny has the same effect on Richard’s reality as a single unsupportive belief can have on the fulfillment of our own desires. In the movie Richard realized the tape recorder was preventing his success. He eliminated the tape recorder, but he did not assess his environment for any other things that could turn up and suddenly make the reality that he managed to create impossible! Ouch.

Here are the specific metaphors related to this approach and the creation of our lives.

Metaphor Our Lives
Richards tape recorder = a limiting belief
Richards hotel room = our core belief system, our paradigm, the way we look at the world
The Penny = equals other limiting beliefs we hold.

The contents of our minds contain a lifetime, of memories, experience, thoughts, habits and scripting. Much of which we are not consciously aware of. The spare change of the mind, if you will! But the reality is that many of those items by their very unconscious existence within our core belief systems are clearly saying no to the reality that you imagine your self living in.

To change our beliefs is to change the way we see the world. ……. Things are exactly how you look at them. Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change.

The process of personal growth and self-discovery is an exciting and never-ending process. You could say that it is the unfolding of awareness until we are aware of awareness itself! …..What if Richard, had stopped and asked himself what else have I missed? What might I be taking with me into this life that I am imagining, that might not support my desire? It was only a penny! The smallest amount of change, caused his tragic undesired change. When faced with that change, Richard chose to see it as a failure of his attempt to fulfill his desire.

What is hiding in our metaphorical pockets or under the bed of our subconscious? What do we carry with us that could have the same effect? And finally, what about failure? What can we call it that doesn’t mean the end of our journey toward the fulfillment of desire?

We’ll save that one for another movie.

See you at the movies.

Babette’s Feast (1987)

Babette's FeastDevout sisters Anna and Martina reject the opportunity to leave their sparse Danish village. Thirty-five years later, a French cook named Babette appears at their door seeking respite from the French revolution’s terrors. Fortune smiles upon Babette when she wins the lottery. She prepares a feast to thank the sisters for their kindness and to give them a taste of the world outside their village.

Starring: Ghita Norby, Asta Esper Andersen, More

Director: Gabriel Axel

This months pick, Babette’s Feast, comes with a few words to prepare you in advance, in a way that the above film blurb does not! At first glance one would think that this movie is one that falls into the category of luscious food movies, of which there have been many great examples in the last few years like Eat Drink Man Woman or Like Water for Chocolate. This movie is not in that category! Yes there is a luscious feast, but that doesn’t happen until nearly the end of the movie. You won’t see anything that resembles ready to eat good food until about one hour and 12 minutes in, when someone says, “dinner is served”! Everything that happens prior to that point in the movie is superbly necessary in order to setup and deliver the powerful message that this movie has to offer.

The blurb fails to mention that what the sisters Anna and Martina are devoted to are; their father and his strict and, dare I say dogmatic, Christian teachings! (Let me go on record in order to avoid angry e-mails! This is not an attack on Christianity or any other spiritual belief system! I believe all religions and all spiritual teachings contain the same universal truths, it is the dogmatic adherence to variations of the universal theme, that creates the conflict between and thus fear of different spiritual perspectives!) That said, ….. Anna & Martina’s father is a widely known minister who teaches adherence to a strict interpretation of Christian values and commandments, rejecting nearly all pleasures of the flesh. The entire village lives by them. By viewing this movie you will experience living in a simple, sparse and beautiful Danish seaside village during the time of the French revolution from that perspective and worldview. The rejection of simple pleasures is so complete that it might to be, at times, uncomfortable to watch. Especially if the viewer possesses a mindset that puts pleasure and enjoyment in a completely different light! …Therein lay the first of the many lessons I found in this movie. Does their rejection of so many of the simple pleasures that someone embraces, embraces make them wrong? The answer is no, it only means that they have different point of view. And that each from their point of view are absolutely right. The grains of universal truths however distorted they might seem in their application to living, are there for both points of view.

You will see that love is even rejected, by both sisters, in the face of what they believed to be a more important and spiritual duty. If when watching this film, this ascetic mindset begins to bother you at all, please don’t let it make you reach for the remote! I encourage you to keep watching, because at 1 hour and 26 minutes and 45 seconds, you will receive the gift that this movie has to offer! And that is, one of the most powerful messages I’ve ever found in film. This entire message is delivered in under two minutes by the soldier who appeared earlier in the film and is the love possibility that is rejected by one of the sisters. When he returns 35 years later for a celebration in memory of the deceased minister’s birthday, he finds an out of this world, unexpected and truly amazing culinary experience! It is this meal that moves him to deliver two of the best minutes to be found in film!

A quick synopsis! The young soldier misses out on love, and so departs, to become a man of the world. 35 years later, he returns for a birthday celebration in memory of the father of the lost love he never forgot. He had risen to the rank of general, a man of privilege and therefore a man who knows, understands and appreciates the pleasures of fine food and wine. With his memory of the stark simplicity of the place, he is certainly not expecting to share in anything resembling a grand banquet! Babette, whose presence there is directly connected to the other sisters rejection of love, many years earlier, has been living with the sisters for some months after escaping from the terrors of the French revolution. Babette, an accomplished chef, has been cooking for the sisters in return for being allowed to stay with them. Her cooking is of course limited to the simple bland foods there were customary in this village. And boy, is it bland! …When she wins the French lottery, and asks them to allow her to prepare the upcoming birthday feast as thanks for their kindness of taking her in. They reluctantly agree but become fearful when they witness the arrival of lavish ingredients for the meal, that are way beyond their experience and imaginations. So in a fearful mindset, the sisters gather the villagers together, where they agree, for the protection of their very souls, that during the meal they will not speak of it, they not be conscious of the taste of it and they will certainly not enjoy it! Their collective rejection, in contrast to the worldly general’s enjoyment of the meal, is priceless as it demonstrates a great deal about the nature and source of truth, the power and significance of choice and the role of perspective in all of that! I will say no more so as not to spoil the bliss of the general’s words and of the last 13 minutes of this film! Bon appetite!

Remember, you are what you watch! Mark Firehammer