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Category Archives: Movies to Watch

Art of Living and Siddartha


The movie Siddhartha, an adaptation of a novel with same name by Hermann Hesse, depicts the life of a young Indian seeker, who lived during the time of the Buddha. While the Book “Siddartha” by Hermann Hesse is my all-time favourite, the movie doesn’t really make the same impact. But the movie is still worth watching, if possible on the big screen. We have reprdouced the movie here along with the plot summary for you to get a flavour of it. Enjoy!

The protagonist Siddhartha, who is the son of a rich Brahmin, leaves his home to seek truth and enlightenment and joins the nearest group of wandering ascetics.

Joined by his best friend Govinda, Siddhartha fasts, becomes homeless, and meditates, eventually seeking and personally speaking with the Buddha. Convinced by the elegance of the Buddha’s teachings, his friend Govinda  joins the Buddha’s order. But Siddhartha does not follow, and decides to carry on alone, believing that he cannot simply be taught these things from teachers and he must figure out and experience the Truth himself.

Siddhartha meets a friendly ferryman, fully content with his simple life. Siddhartha crosses the ferryman’s river and comes to a city, where he is enchanted by a beautiful courtesan named Kamala.

He knows she would be the best one to teach him about the Art of Love, but Kamala tells him that he must become wealthy to win her love. Kamala directs him to work for Kamaswami, a local businessman. Siddhartha easily succeeds in business with his wisdom, patience and tranquility. Alongside Kamala becomes his lover and teaches him what she knows about love.

Soon, he is leading an affluent life, gambling, drinking, dancing and enjoying all pleasures of the material word.  In his middle years, Siddartha realizes that the material world is slowly killing him without providing him any spiritual fulfillment.  One night, he leaves it all behind without telling either Kamala or Kamaswami. He returns to the same river and seeks out the peaceful ferryman Vasudeva. The ferryman shares that he attained inner peace through the revelations that came from the river.

Siddhartha decides to live and work with Vasudeva.  He intently studies the river and spiritual illuminations start unfolding in him like never before. While sitting by the river, he contemplates the unity of all life, and in the sound of the river he discovers the word Om.

Some years later, Kamala, now a disciple of the Buddha, is travelling with her son to see the Buddha at his deathbed.  She is bitten by a poisonous snake near the river and dies.

Siddhartha recognizes her and realizes that the boy she left behind is his own child. Siddhartha attempts to console and raise the rebellious boy, until one day the child flees to a city. Siddhartha becomes desperate to find his runaway son, but  Vasudeva advises him to let the boy find his own path, just as Siddhartha did in his youth.

In contemplating the river, Siddhartha has a revelation – Just as the water of the river flows into the ocean and is returned by rain, all forms of life, their birth and death are interconnected in a timeless and infinite cycle. With Siddhartha’s moment of realisation, Vasudeva announces that he must depart into the woods, leaving Siddhartha peacefully fulfilled and alone.

Toward the end of his life, Govinda hears about an enlightened ferryman and comes to the river to seek wisdom from the now-elderly Siddhartha. He did not recognize that the ferryman was his old childhood friend! Siddartha explains that neither he nor anyone can teach the wisdom to Govinda, because words are limited and can never communicate the totality of Truth. Instead, he asks Govinda to kiss him on the forehead, and when Govinda does, the realisation that Siddhartha has experienced is communicated instantly to Govinda. Govinda bows to his wise friend and Siddhartha smiles radiantly. Both were enlightened!

Watching the movie reminded me how Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been espousing total acceptance and celebration of Life through his personal example and the Art of Living movement. This precious knowledge of Life is coming to us as an inner experience not just borrowed words and concepts. Despite all his brilliance and commitment to the Truth, Siddhartha had to be helped and guided by the boatman. It is a great fortune that we in the Art of Living are gently being guided on the path to Truth with so much wisdom and love.

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Posted by on November 4, 2012 in Art of Living Review, Movies to Watch

 

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Barfi – Learning From Silence


Caution: Don’t read this before you watch Barfi … Strictly.

Barfi came in to me with that brilliantly melodious background music and kept me glued to the screen throughout. I literally enjoyed it frame by frame. And I am glad I did, for every frame in this movie taught me something valuable. Life also does the same; just that we don’t learn from it.

Sacrifice – I remember the scene where Jhilmil shouts from the window when Barfi was about to leave without finding her. Shruti had a choice to walk in to Barfi’s life then. But after a moment of thought, she sacrifices her own life and leaves Barfi to Jhilmil. It needed the extreme in her to sacrifice all, when she had already left her husband and family just for Burfi and didn’t know where to go. Shruti, this act will keep you forever in the books of Love and Sacrifice for the coming years…

Test for Love:  Everyone has their own ways of testing the intensity of the Love in their partner. Barfi too had his own unique way. And he found the one who did not leave when it mattered. And that really mattered. The one who left him in the test actually left him one or the other way in life too. It reminds me of an incident, when once in the golden seashore of Marina Beach we were beaten up by the fishermen because of one my friend’s prank. When a huge crowd was beating my friend all our friends ran away, except the two of us. After the incident while we were walking back to the bus stop I remember my friend saying, “It takes such incidents in life to know the true friends around you, who will stay with you when it really matters.”

Silence:  I liked the way director Anurag Basu has experimented with silence at a totally new level in Barfi. Simply Classic! Every expression communicates, giving a new depth to our understanding of the characters and enjoying them.

Love – Loving someone with the question, “Will I will be happy with him/her or not?” is something. But just being Love is the ultimate thing. Thanks to that something that didn’t grow in Jhilmil, she could be natural and just be the Love she is….

You may be dumb, deaf, physically and mentally challenged, but Love works. You respond to Love; In fact, you only respond to Love. And how many such Jhilmils would have left us permanently because we took Love for granted sometime. Barfi was lucky to get her back…but we may not be.

So, start Loving and expressing Yourself; Identify and be aware in the moments where God shows you the ones who really matter — who will stay with you when it really matters. Be cautious not to lose your love to ignorance or arrogance. Never let go off a chance to sacrifice, for that takes Love to the next level.

Communicate to the whole world with Silence, with Love, with Sacrifice. Smile and Serve through the Art of Living.

Submitted by Art of Living Teacher Prakash Athrayil

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Art of Living Review, Movies to Watch

 

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Hacking Inception : Questioning Reality


Has it ever happened to you that you woke up from a dream, think you are awake, and then suddenly you wake up again and find yourself still lying in your bed? The problem is that you didn’t know that you were (still) dreaming, until you woke from that dream. However strange your dream may be, you do not realize how strange it actually is, until you wake up. So how can you be sure? Is this reality, or one more dream?

Inception is a fascinating movie that not only captivates you till the end, but also leaves you with many questions about the nature of the Reality. Cobb and his team use a technology that allows multiple people to share one dream, to ‘invade’ people’s minds and ‘steal’ information for clients. He is wanted by the United States government for murder on his wife Mal, and that is how he ended up in this not-so-legal business. When the powerful industrialist Saito approaches Cobb with the offer to use his influence to make Cobb’s criminal record disappear, so that he can finally go back to the U.S. and see his two small children again, Cobb cannot refuse. This is his one chance at being reunited with his children – but at what cost?

Saito asks Cobb whether he is able to perform ‘inception’ on another very powerful industrialist. Inception means ‘planting an idea in someone’s mind’. Saito asks him: “If you can steal an idea from someone’s mind, why can’t you plant one there instead?” One of Cobb’s teammates tells Saito that this is not possible, but then Cobb interferes: “I know it is possible… because I have done it before. You just have to go deep enough.”

Cobb and his team come up with a detailed plan for which they have to enter a dream within a dream within a dream, to place the most basic form of the idea into the subjects mind: the subject needs to form the idea so that he will believe it is his own. The whole planning gives a fascinating insight into how our mind works.

The movie Inception is based on spiritual knowledge from Yoga Vasistha

Source: 4.bp.blogspot.com

For this project Cobb also needs a very good ‘architect’, and he recruits the young Ariadne. Her job is to ‘design’ the dream world. However, Cobb warns her: “Never recreate places from your memory, always image new places. Because building a dream from your memory is the easiest way to lose your grasp on what’s real and what is a dream.” It is then that Cobb shows her a small spinning top. “All of us carry a totem with us. It is a small object, that you carry on you all the time and that no one else knows about – only you should know all about it.” He explains that by checking it, one knows for sure that he is not dreaming. Cobb uses the top – if it keeps spinning, without falling over, he knows he is still dreaming.

Cobb also tells Ariadne how he knows inception is possible: “My wife Mal and I were exploring the concept of a dream within a dream. I kept pushing things, I wanted to go deeper, go further. I just didn’t understand the concept that hours could turn into years down there, that we could get trapped down there, so deep, that we lost sight of what was real. To wake up from that, after years, decades, to have become old souls thrown back into youth like that, I knew something was wrong with her. Eventually she told me the truth. She was possessed by an idea, this one very simple idea, that changed everything: That our world wasn’t real. That she needed to wake up and come back to reality. That in order to get back home, we had to kill ourselves. She thought our children were projections. That our real children were waiting for us out there somewhere. She was certain. She killed herself. So I ran, left the country.”

In the end, when the job is completed, Cobb wakes up again on the airplane. His team members are sitting in different seats nearby – their job is done. They just look at him, one smiles. There are, however, no conversations, no interactions. When Cobb goes through customs, he is asked no questions, just allowed – the industrialist has kept his word. It makes you wonder, however, if the whole movie was not a dream he had while on the flight back to the United States, and his ‘team members’ are just different people on the flight that happened to smile or look at him…

Spinning Top in Inception - What is Reality?

Source: blastr.com

When Cobb comes home, he almost can’t believe he’s finally home again. Cobb spins his top, to check if he’s really back to reality, but then he sees his children in the garden, he finally sees their faces again, and runs out to meet them. In the mean time, however, the top has still not stopped spinning… so we are left to wonder: is he still dreaming? And if so, was his wife Mal coming into his dreams maybe not his own projection, but his actual wife who, after ‘killing herself’ finally woke up to the real reality, and who keeps coming back into his dream, trying to get him to wake up…?

Those who have read the thrilling ancient Indian scripture ‘Yoga Vasistha’, can recognize instantly how the movie Inception has been inspired by the book.  In Yoga Vasistha, young prince Rama is disillusioned with life and Sage Vasishta gave him advice and knowledge. The book has many stories, told by sage Vasishta to Rama, that deal with the Ultimate Reality vis-a-vis the illusionary nature of the Universe.

One such story is about a lady called Leela who takes several births and dies several times and is then born as a queen. One day she goes off to sleep and dreams of dying and being reborn as a holy man who dies at an old age. Vasistha then explains to Rama that all this was happening in a dream inside a dream inside a dream in the mind of the ‘original’ dreamer, who was a poor lady in a hut and who had been asleep for only a few minutes! Rama was completely bewildered and asked Vasistha how the lady could dream of epochs in a few minutes. Vasistha said that in a moment of a dream an epoch can be dreamed of.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living says: “When you see everything as a dream, then you abide in your true nature. As you keep wondering whether all this is a dream, you will wake up to the real.”

Enjoy watching the movie (again)! And post any other interesting elements or dialogues of this movie that you find, as comments to this post! There are many more 😉

 

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Hacking Groundhog Day : Karma and Reincarnation


Imagine having one of the worst days of your life – everything is going wrong, you are thoroughly annoyed with everything and everyone, and you can’t wait for this day to end. Now what if you wake up the next morning, and find out that you have to go through that same day all over again? And what if this would keep repeating itself…?

In the movie Groundhog Day, Phil Connors is a nasty, egocentric, sarcastic and selfish weatherman of a local TV station in Pittsburg who thinks he is Mr. Perfect. He doesn’t like his job, his colleagues, or most other people for that matter. As he puts it: people are morons. All he cares about is himself and his happiness. When he is sent to a small town called Punxsutawney to report a local tradition of a groundhog predicting how much longer the winter will last, there is only one thing on his mind: finishing the job and leaving that small town with its simple people as soon as possible.

It turns out to be one of the worst days of his life, and finally he is not even able to leave the town, due to an unexpected blizzard. When he wakes up the next morning, eager to go back to Pittsburg, he realizes that everything is the same as the day before – he is going through the same day all over again! The days that follow, he keeps reliving the same day over and over again… something that reminds one of the philosophy of Karma and Reincarnation! And there is more…

Groundhog Day teaches one The Art of Living

Initially Phil panics. He decides to go see a psychiatrist, who tells him: “This is an unusual problem Mr. Connors. I think we should meet again. How is tomorrow for you?” at which words Phil becomes even more depressed.

Getting drunk at a local pub, he wonders out loud: “I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl; we ate lobster and drank piña coladas. At sunset we made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn’t I get THAT day, over and over again?!” He then asks one of the local guys: “What would you do, if you are stuck in one place, and every day is exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered? What if there were no tomorrow?” The guy answers: “That would mean there would be no consequences, we could do whatever we wanted!” Suddenly Phil’s face clears up. “That’s true! We could do whatever we want!”

From this point onwards, Phil stops following the rules and does whatever he wants. It doesn’t matter if he ends up in jail or worse, as he again wakes up in his hotel on the same day. He gives in to all his fantasies, and starts learning from previous experiences, not making the same mistakes over and over again. Just like in the ancient scriptures, this story shows a mind, or soul, going through repetitive existence, experiencing the same world over and over again, and in the process exhausting all its karma or past impressions. Whatever desires, cravings and aversions are there, are all lived through and experienced until one becomes satisfied, contented, or simply realizes their impermanence. This happens when Phil realizes that he has fallen in love with Rita, a kind female producer from his TV network that came with him to Punxsutawney. He has now lost taste for any other enjoyments. A similar thing happens to a spiritual seeker who has found his Master, or Guru. Being the most attractive, the Master becomes a lightning rod for all the disciple’s longing – it is the last desire, the desire that removes the taste for all other desires. And finally, this last desire is also dropped, and one becomes free.

Using different approaches, Phil tries to get Rita to fall in love with him, but every time he ends up getting slapped in the face! Over time, he becomes desperate, because whatever he tries is not working. He becomes depressed and starts committing suicide in many different ways, trying to end this repetitive existence. But every morning he wakes up in the same hotel again on the same day.

When he realizes that there is nothing he can do to alter his situation, something changes. He starts becoming a nice and caring person, helping out wherever he can. He has dropped the one last desire! In the end he becomes a ‘perfect’ guy, available to help anyone at any time, humble and caring. That night, Rita stays with him to keep him company. Phil tells her: “No matter what happens tomorrow, or for the rest of my life, I’m happy now.” This is the final destination of a spiritual seeker: accepting one’s place in the bigger picture, without any personal needs, one starts serving the society and the world in whatever way one can, being totally dispassionate and fulfilled. And once this beautiful state of fullness dawns, one becomes free from the cycle of repetitive birth and death, Samsara.

When Phil wakes up the next morning, he finds Rita is still there with him. Full of surprise, he tells her: “Do you know what today is? Today is tomorrow!” He is finally free. And then he asks her: “Is there anything I can do for you, today?”

Thank God His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has given us a shortcut to save us so much of trouble: the Art of Living Course and Sudarshan Kriya! 😉

Do let us know if you also enjoyed watching Groundhog Day and what else you discovered in this movie! And stay tuned for more movie reviews in the upcoming weeks… 🙂

 

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Hacking The Matrix : The Spiritual Journey


Have you ever had this experience that you were doing what you always do, following your daily routine, and suddenly you become aware and wonder what the purpose is of all this? It is like you suddenly ‘wake up’. Most people might never question their existence, but once this happens in your life, it becomes difficult to just continue living the way you were doing before. You want to know more, find out what the purpose of your life is, of this existence. The more aware you become, the more this ‘thirst’ keeps growing…

In The Matrix, Neo has the same question. “Have you ever had this feeling where you are not sure whether you are awake or still dreaming?” His urge to know the Truth about existence is very strong, and just like any sincere seeker, when the thirst is strong enough, the Master, or Guru, appears in one’s life. Morpheus and his team keep scanning The Matrix for people that are ‘ready to be woken up’ or ‘to be unplugged’. Those people are like spiritual seekers, who have reached that level of maturity that will allow their intellect to be open enough to consider the possibility of the Truth: that all this is Maya, an illusion, created by the mind itself. If you watch the movie from this point of view, and if you have some experience with Sudarshan Kriya, meditation and spiritual practices, you will find many interesting dialogues and details.

Trinity tells Neo: “It is the question that drives us. It is the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did: “What is The Matrix?” And the answer is out there. And it will find you, if you want it to.”

Sudarshan Kriya can wake you from The Matrix

Source: getawallpaper.com

When Neo gets a glimpse of The Matrix, he is not sure whether he wants to go through with it. Trinity tells him: “Neo, you have to trust me. Why? Because you have been down there, Neo, you know that road, you know exactly where it ends. And I know that’s not where you want to be.” Neo then realizes that his thirst to know the Truth will only get quenched if he takes this leap of faith.

When they finally meet, Morpheus tells Neo: “Let me tell you why you are here. You are here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You felt it your entire life. You don’t know what it is, but it is there, like a splinter in your mind. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about? The Matrix. Do you want to know what it is? The Matrix is everywhere, all around us, even now in this very room. Unfortunately no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. After this there is no turning back. Remember: all I’m offering is the Truth, nothing more.”

And a little later, Morpheus tells Neo: “Have you ever had a dream Neo, that you were so sure it was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?”

“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You are the one who has to walk through. You have to let it all go Neo – fear, doubt and disbelief. Free your mind, “ Morpheus tells him.

And my favorite part is when Neo meets a small monk boy when visiting the Oracle. The boy is bending a spoon with his mind, and then tells Neo: “Do not try and bend the spoon – that is impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth. What truth? That there is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”

Meditation and Sudarshan Kriya help you to transcend the mind

Source: doubletakespoon.wordpress.com

Finally Neo realizes the Truth, or reaches self-realization. He is now able to do things nobody even thought possible – he is able to bend, or even break, the rules of The Matrix. It reminds me of the amazing things a fully enlightened Guru, like His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar does. The Sudarshan Kriya taught in The Art of Living Course is like the red pill that has already unplugged millions of people – and that without the pain, slime and nasty plug points all along the spine!

Those who have read the ‘Yoga Vasistha’, the crown jewel of ancient Vedantic scriptures, can recognize instantly how the knowledge in the book has been tweaked intelligently to create The Matrix.  According to Sage Vasistha, “Creation is what one sees and is aware of, and this is within oneself.”  The Yoga Vasistha provides delightful insights into the ancient Vedanta wisdom, the nature of existence, reality, governance and dissolution.

It seems fitting that the theme song at the end of the Matrix Trilogy is the ancient Vedic mantra ‘Asato Ma Sad Gamaya, Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya, Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya’ (which means ‘lead us from untruth to Reality, from darkness to Light, from death to Immortality’).

Enjoy watching the movie (again)! And post any other interesting perspective or dialogues of this movie that you find, as comments to this post! There are many more 😉

 

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