The documentary by Tom Shadyac premiered Tuesday in San Francisco. I loved the film and its message. It is a simple, heartfelt work, by a very talented filmmaker to describe his personal journey of enlightenment.
Tom suffers a severe head injury and is in an almost suicidal state, after a torturous effort to heal that takes many, many months. He decides to go on a personal journey to ask the profound questions to the world’s most enlightened teachers- What is wrong with the world? What can we do about it? This is a healing path. He discovers himself, his connection with the world, our essential oneness, what Rumi, the mystics, Christ, indigenous wisdom have been saying for thousands of years.
They say that the most personal experiences are the most universal. In the film, Tom viscerally carries the audience with him to experience the pain, joy, emotions that he goes through, but also that we feel whenever we witness another being’s experience, when are hearts are open. Our empathic connection with people, beings, actually stimulates neurological patterns that mirror the patterns of another.
He also shows what happens when are hearts are shut, that thinking breaks down, and we do stupid, horrible, harmful things, individually and collectively. We are not victims of the Universe, we are co-creators and can change the entire Universe through consciousness and by listening and acting in accordance to our heart wisdom. If this sounds too “Woowoo,” he has found scientists who can measure “the invisible” using modern technology, adding weight to a convergence of science and the heart of all religions and major philosophies.
After the standing ovation for Tom, I “sortof” expected some giant group hug. He asked if he was preaching to the choir, and I thought that he probably was. I was deeply moved by the film, but I was already familiar with most of what he said and had experienced. I had come to similar conclusions long ago and was simply overjoyed to see them so well articulated in such an engaging powerful way. Aside from the parts where I had to close my eyes because I couldn’t bear the painful images, the film was stunningly beautiful and emotionally uplifting with priceless moments of sheer delight and humor. In the film, when Tom becomes enlightened, he divests himself of much of his material wealth to live a simpler life, in community with others. He doesn’t do it in one day, it is a process, but one that challenges the traditional measures of success in our culture. His relationship with money becomes one of the main focuses of the dialogue with the audience after the screening.
At this point, I just can’t resist trying to pass some Perception Dollars that I publish towards Tom. I was sitting high in the back of the theater with my dear 83 year old companion, who knows and has funded much of the consciousness studies with the Institute of Noetic Sciences whose insights are well expressed in the film. The dollars bear some resemblance to US dollars, but have beautiful art, butterflies, LOVE written boldly upon them, and symbols and websites supporting the theme of the film. They are fun to give away and usually people are happy to get them and receive them. I had already passed some out to the back rows, upon request prior to the screening which they cooperatively shared. So I tried to pass one large stack towards the front of the theater, hoping at least one would reach Tom, and they disappeared and didn’t reach Tom. I tried again and they disappeaedr again. Finally, I got up to give him and others along the way the LOVE dollars, and when I’m in close physical proximity and can’t get in a word, I can’t resist giving him a hug.
As I listened to the audience’s questions and his responses, as audience members got to their feet and began the inevitable dribble out of the auditorium, I realized how much resistance there was to his message, which is actually a very challenging thing to say. Only later did I realize how much his experience was echoed by Plato’s classic parable of the cave. The story about the guy who escaped the cave, discovered the beauty of the natural world in the sunshine, and tried to return to the cave to help others escape beyond the flickering shadows cast upon the walls that surrounded them.
Nobody wants to be told that they are living in the dark and that their world is an illusion, many will fight to the death to defend their view of themselves and their world. Enlightenment is humanity’s greatest hope, and the greatest fear of those who cling to power in a system that relies on lies, deceptions, fear, war, violence for them who want to maintain control. Love is the most powerful revolutionary act possible. Those who champion love have a tendency to get crucified. Those who champion truth are generally ridiculed and attacked by the media. First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. Satyagraha means truth force. Martin Luther King Jr. called it “Love in Action.”
My heart goes out to Tom. I hope his film reaches as many people as possible. I am sure that it will win over many good people and resonate powerfully with those who are not heavily indoctrinated or attached to the myths so well entrenched in an insane, Orwellian empire. I am sure that there will be many negative reactions to the film and that it will evoke fear, anger, denial in others. Life never ceases to surprise or amaze me. Now I remember how I felt when a friend of mine, who had saved my life, threatened to commit suicide thirty years ago, and when I experienced a forty-five second epiphany which dramatically changed my life. I found a sliver of enlightenment, inner peace, and learned how to forgive, accept, love myself, my family, friends, the world. I felt that important lesson was at the heart of all those religions and philosophies. I overcame my fear of death and happily overcame my fear of loving as well. However, I was never able to convey or articulate that experience, wisdom, with real live human beings. I tried to write it down in a book that was never finished, nor published, and to live it, but the biggest challenge was to try to communicate a deeply profound personal experience with other people through language.
There are many languages. In our culture, art and film are the most powerful tools we have when we try to communicate publicly to our fellow humans, but it is a very courageous act for anyone to pour their heart, soul and life out in public. Casting light exposes the shadows and individually and collectively there is an awful lot of shadow work that remains to be done.
One of the great mystics said that “We are all beginners amidst beginners.” We are just beginning to learn how to dialogue, how to listen and how to speak, how to cooperate in new ways to survive and thrive on our home planet with all the diverse life forms whose existence and fate is intertwined with our own. Tom has some good companions and allies, he has chosen the heroic path and merits the support and love from all of us who recognize the gift he is offering us. I’m sure he will inspire many more to begin that journey, the need is great and the more who join him, the merrier it will be.