Two-hour tickets to enlightenment

Omkaradatta's picture

Average: 3 (2 votes)

I've suggested before that "losing oneself" in a good book or film is an example of losing the 'me', and folks didn't seem to receive this very well. Don't we laugh and cry about things that matter to "me" when watching a movie?

But wait... what is it about a film or book that makes it "good", exactly? Isn't it your deep involvement in it, to the point that you 'forget yourself' and 'your troubles'? You are not the character you usually are, but are with the characters in the story instead, experiencing it in 'real-time', now.

This sense of involvement in the Now is something folks tend to hang onto after a film as well, talking about it in the car and such, trying to staying 'in' the atmosphere of the film. There is a strong aftertaste of bliss. Eventually it fades, and people go back to "real" life.

Suppose this deep involvement in the Now is a foretaste of Oneness? Aren't you One with the picture happening up on screen, in a sense? Are you the body, when deeply involved in a movie? Are you thinking about your past/future at all, seeking anything, or are you involved in what's happening presently?

Remember Star Wars? Folks lined up twenty blocks deep back in 1977 for this sense of involvement, losing themselves and their troubles in the Now, not thinking about the past or future for awhile, but deeply interested in what's happening up there on-screen, their 'selves' and troubles forgotten for a time.

Exclusivists won't like this, but: I submit that Hollywood markets two-hour passes to Enlightenment.

david's picture

Nice. A few comments.

Nice. A few comments.

In a book, a movie, a TV you do not loose your me, this is a very dangerous illusion that the media sometimes exploits for its purposes of manipulating you.

What happens in these situations is similar to the scenario that happens when you are in the past and in the future and not here and now: your "I" is being identified with objects in a book, a movie, a TV, past, future, there. The "I" must have an object to identify in order to "be" and it can find it also in imaginary mediums. The "I" thus continues but you are not present. And the danger of it is that the "owner" of the medium in which the object of identification is, now controls you. This is the reason for the sense of enjoyment and ease, not a loosing of "I", it is just because your "I" is now under the control of "someone" else who operates it and you can rest a bit with no worries, effort, to-dos. It is like when you drive your car into those automatic cleaning machines, you put the car into neutral and now the machine moves the car while you are sitting there inside the car and drinking diet cola.

True loosing of yourself can only be achieved in the here and now.

david | Sat, 09/13/2008 - 07:52
Omkaradatta's picture


>>The "I" thus continues but you are not present.

I don't know how to reply to the above, as logic seems to have departed ;-).

Your other comments come across here as confused too, but I respect your viewpoints. AFAIC, you are completely in the here/now when deeply involved in watching a movie (particularly for the first time). Of course it's only temporary, not a true awakening... that's not my point.

Omkaradatta | Sat, 09/13/2008 - 08:11
Phroggy's picture

A few more comments

Yes, I agree. It is, at best, a momentary distraction from the concerns of our lives that causes us to feel strong emotions when the senses are engaged. We like to set our concerns aside and we like to feel powerful emotions and be entertained by our imagination and fantasies. It's actually ego drama at it's best.

It is, perhaps being fully engaged as one might be in a creative endeavor though without anything creative happening on our part, but the mind is very active and it is not being present in the now.

The 'me' is not forgotten but rather projected into the play on the screen, identifying with characters, figuring out plots, judging the actions of the actors, feeling the appropriate feelings through identification. It's not any sort of a ticket to enlightenment, but it might be a good cure for boredom and a good way to prevent facing our fears of emptiness.

Phroggy | Sat, 09/13/2008 - 08:10
Omkaradatta's picture

OK, then...

"We like to set our concerns aside and we like to feel powerful emotions and be entertained by our imagination and fantasies. It's actually ego drama at it's best."

OK, forget the movie. How about a fascinating laser light show, or listening to the symphony? Anything where your attention is completely involved in the Now to the point you 'forget yourself'. Where are 'you' at this point?

Omkaradatta | Sat, 09/13/2008 - 08:14
Phroggy's picture

Yes, a powerful piece of

Yes, a powerful piece of instrumental music is a different matter. It is not generally an engagement of the mind, unless one is into analyzing music or set to reminiscing by it. Music is unique in that it somehow activates a feeling sense directly. Something can bring us to our core and there may be a surrender to what is felt there. I know nothing else about it because it seems to not be mind business at all.

Is the 'me' absent in that? Sometimes it seems so, which is likely what makes it so enjoyable.

Phroggy | Sat, 09/13/2008 - 08:28
RandomStu's picture

Worst Case Scenario

Yes, you see a good movie, get drawn into the movie completely, and all sense of the I/my/me problems that you had when you walked into the theater... disappear for a couple of hours. The mind you get watching a movie is indeed similar to a mind you'd get in sitting meditation.

When the movie is over and you leave the theater, there's a tendency to completely lose the focus you had while watching the movie, and get re-entangled in I/my/me-thinking. Thanks because the movie was so interesting that it made it easy to be attentive. When the interesting movie is over, there's nothing to help you remain aware.

The difference with sitting meditation is that it's a Worst Case Scenario. There's nothing interesting to help you be aware and attentive. So when you gain practice this way at keeping a clear, just-now mind... even after the sitting period is over, you don't lose your attentive mind so much. Since the attentiveness you practice during sitting meditation doesn't rely on external help (like a movie), it's truly your own, and it's easier to keep it in ordinary, everyday life.


RandomStu | Wed, 12/02/2009 - 22:28
Quantum's picture


"Since the attentiveness you practice during sitting meditation doesn't rely on external help (like a movie), it's truly your own, and it's easier to keep it in ordinary, everyday life."

Beautiful, Stuart! Beautiful.

PS: Want a Miller Lite?

Quantum | Thu, 01/21/2010 - 05:23
Gilana's picture

Material life is a movie

Thank you for making this point.

What else is the material life but a good movie for the "watcher?"

How much do you identify with the actor? Or can you remember yourself while watching?

Gilana | Tue, 12/22/2009 - 04:26
Quantum's picture

Indeed it is.

The projectors light is Pure Consciousness.

The film strip, or filter if you will, are mental thoughts.

What projects externally corresponds to our internal condition.

Another model would be like a light bulb. The light from the bulb is Pure Consciousness. Take a permanent marker, any color, and mark up the entire bulb. Those marks are thoughts.

Quantum | Thu, 01/21/2010 - 05:37
Gilana's picture

And then...

we wonder where all the white lite went.

Gilana | Wed, 01/27/2010 - 03:24
Quantum's picture

Let me think about that...


Quantum | Wed, 01/27/2010 - 05:48