Awakening and the Endless Chase

I think all this awakening “game” is about realizing that you already have what you’re looking for on the outside within you, that you already are what you’re seeking.

It’s about seeing that all those things that make you want to get, to obtain, to achieve, to change, to heal, to transform come from the illusory assumption that you are not that already or that you do not have that already.

What a silly game! Constantly running to get something that you don’t know you already have. Constantly running to try to become that which you already are!

On Being Truthful by Adyashanti

“I have found over the years of working with people, even people who have had very deep and profound awakenings, that most people have a fear of being truthful, of really being honest—not only with others, but with themselves as well. Of course, the core of this fear is that most people know intuitively that if they were actually totally truthful and totally sincere and honest, they would no longer be able to control anybody.

We can not control somebody with whom we have been truthful. We can only control people if we tell half-truths, if we shave down what is true. When we tell the total truth, our inside is suddenly on the outside. There’s nothing hidden anymore. For most human beings, being that exposed brings up incredible fear. Most people walk around thinking, “My god, if anybody could look inside of me, if anybody could see what is happening in there, what my fears are, what my doubts are, what my truths are, what I really perceive, they would be horrified.”

Most people are protecting themselves. They are holding a lot of things in. They are not living honest, truthful, and sincere lives, because if they were to do so, they would have no control. Of course, they don’t have control anyway, but they would have no illusion of control, either.

Most people don’t get out of childhood without having many experiences of being wounded for telling the truth. Someone said, “You can’t say that,” or “You shouldn’t say that,” or “That wasn’t appropriate.” As a result, most of us have very deep underlying conditioning that being just who we are is not okay. We have been conditioned to believe that there are times when it is okay to be truthful and honest, and there are times when it is not okay to be truthful and honest. Most human beings actually have an imprinting—not only in their minds, but in their bodies and their emotions—that if they are honest, if they are real, something bad is going to happen. Somebody is not going to like it. They won’t be able to control their environment if they tell the truth.

But telling the truth is an aspect of awakening. It may not seem like it, because it’s very practical and very human. It’s not transcendent. It’s not about pure consciousness, it’s about how pure consciousness manifests as a human being in an undivided way. We must be able to manifest what we realize, and we must also come to grips with and start to notice the very forces within us that keep us from manifesting truthfulness in every situation.

Almost every time I’ve given a talk like this in public, someone will come up to me later and say, “You know that talk you gave on truthfulness and honesty and all that?” And I’ll go, “Yeah, I remember the talk.” And they’ll say, “Well, somebody came up in the parking lot afterward and decided that she needed to tell me all the rotten things she thought about me, in the name of honesty.

And I just kind of shake my head. I hesitate to even give talks on this topic, because it’s so easy to misunderstand.

Truth is a very high standard. Truth is not a plaything. To tell what is true within ourselves is not to tell what we think; it is not to tell our opinion. It is not to dump the garbage can of our mind onto somebody else. All of that is illusion, distortion, projection. Truth is not unloading our opinions onto someone. That is not truth. Truth is not telling our beliefs about things. That is not truth. Those are ways that we actually hide from truth.

Truth is much more intimate than that. When we tell the truth, it has the sense of a confession. I don’t mean a confession of something bad or wrong, but I mean the sense where we come completely out of hiding. Truth is a simple thing. To speak the truth is to speak from a sense of total and absolute unprotectedness.

To tell truth with any consistency, we not only have to meet every place in ourselves that is afraid of telling truth, we also have to see the belief structure we have that tells us, “I can’t do that.” Those belief structures are by their very nature based in unreality. To know this is not enough; you have to actually see it, to really perceive exactly what you believe. What are the exact belief structures that cause you to go into duality, that cause you to go into conflict and hiding? Only then can you tell truth in the way I’m discussing here.

Freedom is the realization that everything and everybody gets to be exactly as they are. Unless we’ve come to that point, unless we’ve seen that this is how reality sees things, then we’re actually withholding freedom from the world. We’re seeing it as a possession, and we’re only concerned with ourselves. How good I can feel? How free I can feel? True freedom is a gift to everything and everybody.

The important thing is allowing the whole world to wake up. Part of allowing the whole world to wake up is recognizing that the whole world is free—everybody is free to be as they are. Until the whole world is free to agree with you or disagree with you, until you have given the freedom to everyone to like you or not like you, to love you or hate you, to see things as you see them or to see things differently—until you have given the whole world its freedom—you’ll never have your freedom.

This is an important part of awakening, and it is an easy part to miss. Again, if we were fully awake, it would be impossible to miss this, but most people do not awaken all at once. The idea of freedom is very important, however. Everybody gets to be as they are. Only when everyone is allowed to be as they are—when you have given them that freedom, the freedom they already possess—do you find within yourself the capacity to be honest and real and true.

We cannot be true as long as we are expecting or wanting others to agree with us. That will cause us to contract—maybe they won’t like what I say; maybe they won’t agree; maybe they won’t like me. When we are protecting ourselves, we are also withholding freedom from everybody else. When we realize that we are the one and only Spirit that manifests as everything and everyone, in the very nature of that realization is total freedom for all.

There is a certain fearlessness in this realization. People sometimes come to me and say, “Well, Adya, there’s still some inner place”—and, I find, it’s often a very early childhood place—“that’s afraid to just be what I know to be true.” And, of course, I’ll say, “You have to look at it, to see how you, yourself, formed certain belief structures based on what happened in the past. You have to look into it and see if those belief structures are really true.” But also, we need to recognize that we have no way of knowing or predicting how the world will receive us. Part of being awake is being willing to be crucified. If we think that to be awake means the whole world will agree with us, then we are in a total delusion.

Inside human consciousness there is a deep taboo that says it is not okay to realize the truth of being. I’m not talking about preaching it, necessarily; I’m talking about just being what you perceive. This taboo says, “That’s not okay. You will be crucified for that; you will be killed for it.” Of course, in our human history, people have been killed for it. We have a long history in many societies of getting rid of or killing truly enlightened beings, because true enlightenment does not conform to the dream state. In fact, many times the dream state feels offended and threatened by true enlightenment, because a truly enlightened being cannot be controlled. Even the threat of death cannot control an enlightened being.

Thus, as a human being, we can’t have these childish ideas that enlightenment means “everybody loves me.” Maybe everybody will love you, but more likely some will and some won’t. But when you have given the whole world its freedom, then you have gone a long way toward finding your own freedom. They are tied inextricably, one to the other.

The most important thing is not that you try to convince anybody of the truth that you see. What is really important is that you are truthful with yourself. If you can be truthful with yourself, then you can be truthful with anybody. There is no real usefulness in becoming overly focused on being truthful with everybody else. Although that’s necessary, the place to start is with yourself—can you be totally sincere with yourself? Can you go to that place that is beyond blame, beyond judgment, beyond should and shouldn’t? Can you go to that place that is so sincere you won’t shy away from any part of yourself that is still in conflict; you won’t use the perception of truth to hide from something that feels less than liberating?

It is really a question of sincerity. As I said, this is not a self-improvement program. Once you discover the level of sincerity and honesty I am describing, you find that sincerity and honesty are manifestations of the absolute nature of being. To be this sincere with yourself may not be easy, initially. You may see things about yourself you don’t want to see. You may see the parts of yourself that stand in seemingly stark contrast to everything you have realized. Nonetheless, this is where awakening moves; awakening moves toward and into that which is not awake. Sincerity is what allows this movement to happen, and it does happen if you are real with yourself.

Coming completely out of hiding, being willing to see every point of fixation, every way you go into division, enables this part of the journey to continue. As this happens, you feel your heart opening, your mind opening; you feel yourself opening on levels that you never dreamed possible. These levels are not just transcendent of humanness, but also right within your humanness, because there is no separation between your human being and your divine being.

Sincerity is the key. You have to be willing; you have to want to see everything. When you want to see everything, you will see everything.

A lot of students who come to see me have the unconscious idea that enlightenment means one should be able to feel complete happiness, total bliss, and total freedom in any situation. This is one of the unconscious beliefs that many people have about awakening, and it’s another misperception.

If you believe the misperception that enlightenment is only about happiness, bliss, and freedom, you will be motivated to transcend or escape those areas of your life that feel less than fully functional. But sooner or later, as we become more awake, we find that there is more and more pressure to encounter and deal with those areas of our lives that we have been avoiding, where we are less than fully conscious.

I have found that a lot of people become quite afraid when they start to realize where this whole movement of awakening is taking them, that it is taking them into an area where they will be called to be unusually honest and real and come completely out of hiding. This is contrary to the idea of awakening being simply a transcendence of life, the finding of a safe haven in some inner experience where we don’t have to deal with life as it is. Awakening is, in fact, quite the opposite: it’s a state of being in which we find the capacity to deal with our lives as they actually are. But as I said, many people are afraid of this part of the process, because it demands that we come out of hiding on every level.”

~ Adyashanti, The End of Your World

On Shame and Self-Love

There is a biblical episode where God calls for Adam to join him for a walk. Yet because Adam had eaten from the Tree of Knowledge he became aware of his own nakedness and so he hid in the bushes and refused to come out. What had been natural before was now viewed through different eyes. The same action was charged with ideas of rightness or wrongness. He could no longer reveal himself to God in his nakedness anymore as he had learned about shame.

I believe that shame is strongly linked to a lack of self love. Well… there is a good kind of shame and a bad kind of shame. The good kind of shame is the shame where we are able to recognize that we are responsible for the negative consequences of something we did, accepting that fully, having compassion for ourselves, understanding that ignorance leads to mistakes – even with the best of intentions – and then learning from these mistakes. The not so good kind of shame is the kind where we are still able to recognize that we were responsible for a negative situation, but we take two approaches to it:

  1. either we try to cover it up or deny it because we cannot allow ourselves to feel this shame – this is because we find it too painful to accept that we have caused harm or that our imperfections have been exposed.
  2. or we are so overwhelmed by the fact that we have caused harm that we cannot accept ourselves and cannot have compassion for ourselves and so we hate ourselves for what we have done.

Both of these approaches are ways of avoiding to feel that shame. And they both keep us from accepting ourselves and loving ourselves, because in order to love ourselves, we need to have compassion for ourselves and our ignorance. In order to love ourselves, we need to accept that we often make mistakes. And in order to love ourselves, we have to accept the things we have done and this cannot be done unless we first feel the shame that arose in us and learn its lessons.

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There are so many unconscious attitudes we hold that show a lack of self love. We may not be aware of them, but they become apparent – if we pay attention – when we chase after love. This chase may take the form of trying to manipulate others, pleasing others, seeking external validation, trying to impress others, not saying what needs to be said because we fear we will lose approval, forcing ourselves into things we don’t want to do, and so on. Yet true, Divine Love is unconditional. It is us who raise blocks against it because we feel unworthy of receiving it. When we love ourselves, we accept that love that is always extended to us for us to tap into and, in doing so, we do not need to seek for it outside of ourselves.

In a sense God is always calling for us to join Him, yet it is us who feel unworthy of walking beside Him. We are ashamed of ourselves and so we deny ourselves love. We prefer to hide that which we cannot accept in ourselves because we fear we are imperfect and therefore bad and undeserving of love because of it. We mask it with qualities we struggle to maintain the illusion of because we believe that we can fake it till we make it. But the need to cover up parts of ourselves is only a confirmation of the existence of those things in the first place. It’s giving them more legitimacy.

Like for instance, if you believe yourself to be bad, you will try to overcompensate through only displaying that which you perceive to be good. So if you find yourself being angry, you will try to suppress it and only display positive emotions. The problem is that we are ashamed of the reality of our being because we believe that certain emotions are bad and we shouldn’t feel them. But struggling against them, is an affirmation of their existence. And denying parts of yourselves becomes a punishment in itself which shows a lack of self love.

I have found that I didn’t really understand the idea of loving and accepting yourself. Whenever I allowed myself to feel things, I would do so with an underlying feeling of shame or guilt, which shifted the focus from my raw emotions, to my “wrongness”, therefore keeping the emotions stuck in my body, because they were not accepted and transmuted. Or I’d get so caught up in the thoughts behind the emotions that I’d become distracted from feeling them.

I’ve come to believe that loving and accepting yourself is about understanding the irrational needs you have, the longings, the pain, the unreasonable expectations you have from both yourself and others, the shame and the guilt and then being there for yourself, allowing yourself to feel those things, to feel the grief of not having experienced the kind of love you needed and realizing that many of these things stem from unfulfilled childhood needs that are no longer real but that have remained stuck and keep resurfacing in present situations and furthermore understanding that now you’re responsible for yourself and you need to take care of yourself. It’s also having compassion for yourself and even for those you may believe were responsible for your experience because you understand that there was no conscious ill intent behind their words and actions, behind them not being there for you as you needed as they also acted on their own wounding and lack of understanding.

The moment we accept, understand and love ourselves is the moment we will feel worthy to walk with God again. And then, all those ideals like bliss and joy and love and compassion that we try to embody through effort – and sometimes through imitation and pretense – will come naturally to us. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t aim towards those things or make any effort to become better people, these things are necessary because they lead to a better understanding of ourselves and they put us on the path to self discovery. But it is self-love that gives us the key to those things that we aim for.

Analysis of the short film IN-SHADOW [Part 2]

Last time we left this around the 2:22 minute mark when we saw two masked figures embracing each other. The symbolism suggests that people have to go through two layers of ego in order to genuinely relate to another person. One layer is represented by their own ego, the other belongs to the other person. “We are all searching for someone whose demons play well with ours” says a quote whose author is unknown*. So we are all searching for someone who can accept our distortions, our shadows and the ways in which we have covered them up. Someone whose ego complements our own and doesn’t mirror back our flaws.

We are then shown how out of this union, a child is born. The child comes from a place of unity, of perfection, of love. We see how pure the child is, and how perfect he is in his innocence. His connection to the divine is represented through the chakras, the energy centers of the body. These are the first illustrations that are depicted in harmonious colors as opposed to the dark colors that were used in the scenes before. This is in order to show the contrast between nature and nurture. The newborn is an embodiment of creative potential, while society is an embodiment of restrictive control.

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The child is welcomed into the world in a hostile way. We see the mother’s legs spread out on the operating table and almost immediately after he is born, he is vaccinated and taken out of that place of perfection. What is supposed to be a miraculous event, is treated like a perfunctory operation. The two figures by the bed seem very impersonal and lacking in any regard for the magnificence of life. The instruments they are holding make the birth scene seem like a horror film. This perhaps suggests the dangers of becoming a personification of the function you perform in society. When you identify with your role in society, you start objectifying yourself. This reminds me of Jean-Paul Sartre’s concept of radical freedom. Radical freedom is when you do what you consider to be right, even when your role in society or the standards of the world demand that you do the opposite. Basically you always have a choice and saying otherwise is a refusal to take responsibility for your actions.

“We only become what we are by the radical and deep seated refusal of that which others have made of us.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

The birth experience is traumatizing and no effort is made to ease the transition. This is how the infant is introduced to human experience.

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We are then presented with a classroom full of children whose heads are encased in red cubes like the ones we saw earlier in the movie. The child in the center still retains some natural wonder about the world, some original thought, some creative capabilities which is suggested by the colors above his head. The two figures of an academic attire that can be seen in the background give the impression that this is an indoctrination chamber rather than a classroom. Curiosity, the pleasure of exploration, wonder – traits that are innate to every child – are lost here and replaced by dullness, submission and uniformity.

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You take children and you make them sit down for half a day, telling them what to believe and not allowing them to explore things in their own way, that is an assault on their spirit. The teachers practically drain the creativity out of their pupils and install a rigid belief system instead. The red cage represents the limits up to which they are allowed to explore with their imagination and curiosity. Infinite possibilities are reduced to a box of beliefs. Like the opposite of “Think outside the box”. And there are many ways to prevent a child from going beyond these limits. Ridicule questions, discourage initiative, condemn disagreement, reward conformity, promote repetition, glorify test results.

“I feel very strongly that it is not enough to just live in the world as it is and just take what you are given, to follow the things that adults told you to do and that your parents told you to do and that society tells you to do. I think you should always be questioning. I take this very scientific attitude that everything you’ve learned is just provisional, that it’s always open to recantation, refutation, or questioning. And I think the same applies to society. Growing up, I slowly had this process of realizing that all the things around me that people had told me were just the natural way things were, the way things always would be, they weren’t natural at all. They were things that could be changed, and they were things that, more importantly, were wrong and should change, and once I realized that, there was really no going back. I couldn’t fool myself into saying ‘Oh, I’m just going go work for a business and ignore all that’. Once I realized that there were real, serious problems, fundemental problems that I could do something to address, I didn’t see a way to forget that […]

Even when I was in school I was very frustrated with school. I thought that teachers didn’t know what they were talking about and they were very domineering and controlling and that homework was kind of a sham and it was all just like all about a way to pen students all together and force them to do busywork. And, you know, I started reading books about the history of education and how this educational system was developed, and alternatives to it and ways that people could actually learn things as opposed to just regurgitating facts that teachers told them and that kind of led me down this path of questioning things. Once I questioned the school I was in, I questioned the society that built the school. I questioned the businesses the schools were training people for. I questioned the government that set up this whole structure.”

– Aaron Schwartz

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Another aspect captured in these scenes is that schools are interested in developing mainly the intellect. There are hardly any activities that engage the body as well or that encourage creative expression. There is a great quote by Sir Ken Robinson regarding this:

“Every education system on Earth has the same hierarchy of subjects. Every one. It doesn’t matter where you go. You’d think it would be otherwise, but it isn’t. At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and at the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on Earth.

And in pretty much every system, too, there is a hierarchy within the arts. Music and art are normally given a higher status in schools than drama and dance. There isn’t an education system on the planet that teaches dance every day to children the way we teach them mathematics.

Why not? I think this is rather important. I think math is very important, but so is dance. Children dance all the time, if they’re allowed to. We all do. We all have bodies, don’t we? Did I miss a meeting? Truthfully what happens is that as children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads, and slightly to one side.

Our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason for that. The whole system came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that: Don’t do music; you’re not going to be a musician. Don’t do art; you won’t be an artist. Then: benign advice. Now: profoundly mistaken.

Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth: for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us.”

This quote has been brilliantly illustrated by Zen Pencils:
https://zenpencils.com/comic/kenrobinson/

In the following scene we see the teacher leading the children off a cliff, to their own demise. The children look as though they are in a trance, unsuspecting of the danger that awaits them ahead. Black smoke is coming out of the back of the teacher who does not seem aware of what he is doing, like he is carrying this burden out of inertia, having been subjected himself to the same kind of indoctrination. The smoke and the up and down motion of their march is reminiscent of trains, which suggests the mechanical nature of this behavior. This is also a metaphor for industry which is interested in children getting a particular kind of education, one that prepares them for employment. One that discourages them from pursuing what interests them, because otherwise they wouldn’t have at their disposal a working hand willing to perform the boring jobs that they promote as valuable and admirable. One that prepares them for a new kind of submission to authority.

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After the industrial revolution, it soon became apparent to those with prosperous businesses that in order to maintain their status, the people had to be kept in a state of subordination. And what better way to do that than to control the things they were thinking about? Slowly they found ways to manipulate public opinion and influence political figures in order for the educational system that they had devised to be widely adopted.

” When you are at the top you spend a lot of time and money making sure you stay at the top and the last things these Robber Barons would allow is for the uprising of the middle class into their hierarchy.

With such large controlling wealth through their foundations came a resilient web of many useful ‘friends’ in the politically arena and in business. With connections in banking, Wall Street, law firms, media executives and proprietors along with behind the scenes PR firms they could ensure any type publicity and financial backing they wished including the masking of their true agendas. Through the largess of their foundations the Rockefellers, Carnegie, Mellon, Vanderbilt, Morgan and Guggenheim Foundations colluded to begin the process of designing our current public education system.” – Jamie Lee

A good article detailing this (where the quote above is taken from) can be found here:
http://www.wakingtimes.com/2014/01/28/untold-history-modern-u-s-education-founding-fathers/

The next things we see is how, during their fall, these children are turning into pills which land in the mouth of a young man. This marks the transition from childhood to adolescence. Between these two ages, the children are medicated and over-medicated as society is quick to label any form of inadaptability as a mental illness. If you have a short attention span in school or you don’t conform to the rules or if you just don’t find the subjects that are being taught stimulating , the system is quick to pin the problem on you. It’s never that the subjects in school really are boring or that they are taught out of context or that they are useless. It’s that you have ADHD and you have a problem focusing. So you have an excuse to drug children as early as age 7, maybe even earlier. And then you can watch them become compliant, but also losing their interest in the world around them, becoming desensitized. And that’s how they reach adolescence and later adulthood.

“ADHD makes a great excuse, the diagnosis can be an easy-to-reach-for crutch. Moreover, there’s an attractive element to an ADHD diagnosis, especially in adults. It can be exciting to think of oneself as involved in many things at once, rather than stuck in a boring rut.” – Richard Saul

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Many of these young men are lined up and sent to war to fight in the name of those same people that have indoctrinated them into compliance. They think they are doing something honorable, that they are protecting ideals and that they are sacrificing themselves for justice and freedom and democracy, but they are mere tools in the hands of those who know how to manipulate words, slaves to language and ideological tyranny. This is subtly illustrated here through the fact that all the young men have the same appearance. Their identity is insignificant to those above, all that matters is that they are able to wear a uniform and hold a weapon. The drugs in their mouths represent submission and renunciation of responsibility, the uniform represents the fact that they no longer belong to themselves and that they have assumed the role they have been assigned and the weapon held in an awkward way represents the lack of awareness of their destructive capabilities. It is only in war that they finally realize what they have agreed to participate in.

Of course, this illustrates the dark side of the military system. When critical thinking is discouraged, when ideals are used as a means to justify atrocities, when selfish intentions pervade at the top of the power chain, the military becomes a power for destruction. Yet, it can also be a force for fighting injustice or defending against invading forces. It’s the same argument as to the ownership of a gun. You can use your gun for self-defense or you can use it in destructive ways. It all depends on the intention with which it is used.

While young men sacrifice themselves for their country and bring destruction to others, it is an entirely different scenario for business people. For them it’s an opportunity to make money and that’s all they need to know in order to get involved in pushing this agenda on people. Whether it’s selling weapons, or exploiting resources or any sort of change in the political dynamic that benefits them, they have vested interests in war. This is represented by a smiling man dressed in a suit coming out of a coffin full of money. War is a money machine in the hands of those who have no respect or compassion for the people who have fought in it.

Politicians also benefit from this, as is illustrated through the two figures holding blood money to their chests. Is it just me or does the man on the right looks like Obama? I hear a lot of people saying that he was one of the best presidents America has ever had. And that makes me realize how powerful the media machine is. His policies were just as destructive as those during the Bush administration, if not worse, and yet people believe that he has done so much good. I think it is because he has the gift of charisma and diplomacy more so than his predecessors so that he is able to appear noble in his intentions. What he is really good at is manipulating words so that he can always evade accountability. Plus, of course, having giant media companies behind him, portraying him as a charming saint helps too. I guess it’s about knowing how to play a role. Just like Bush played the role of the incompetent fool. Which is another way to evade accountability. But I digress.

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The two figures are standing on skulls, so they are desecrating the memory of those that died in war. The fact that they are smiling shows that they have no integrity or remorse for what they have done. As media shows up, they grow white wings and a white circle appears above their heads, the money turn into flowers and one of the men is holding a baby. That is the power of television, it makes saints out of sinners and sinners out of saints.

Working on this, I have decided not to continue my analysis beyond this part. I think the power of this short film lies in the way it makes you feel and language can limit experience in a sense. This is pretty dark subject matter which is difficult to dive into, even though it has … I don’t wanna say a happy ending, but let’s say it evolves towards revealing truth in its purest form. Which is something akin to how Adyashanti describes awakening:

“To be this sincere with yourself may not be easy, initially. You may see things about yourself you don’t want to see. You may see the parts of yourself that stand in seemingly stark contrast to everything you have realized. Nonetheless, this is where awakening moves; awakening moves toward and into that which is not awake.”

May you face your fears with courage!

Originally posted on Steemit:
https://steemit.com/art/@astrayingline/analysis-of-the-short-fim-in-shadow-part-2

Analysis of the short film IN-SHADOW [Part 1]

“Embark on a visionary journey through the fragmented unconscious of the west, and with courage face the Shadow. From Shadow into Light.”, that is the description of IN-SHADOW on YouTube.

The power of this short film developed by Lubomir Arsov lies in its symbolism as well as in the brutal honesty with which it illustrates the pathologies of our world. Not only that, but it somehow manages to bypass the intellect and speak to you at a deeper level, where language is perhaps comprised of dream symbols. In a dream you experience things whose emotional impact you may not be able to explain rationally and all you are left with are the feelings they evoke. The intellect is limited in this as it sometimes acts as a barrier to certain revelations. A great achievement of this film is that it goes beyond that barrier and allows you to have the dream experience in a waking state. So let’s try to interpret the symbols in this dream sequence.

The first thing we see is darkness. Nothing. Emptiness.
Out of this void, one sphere emerges along with the light that shines upon it.

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The sphere splits into three smaller luminous orbs. This is the beginning of creation. When nothing turns into something – represented by the sphere – all is one. Then, this unity splits in what can be interpreted as the Holy Trinity (God, Son and the Holy Spirit). This is also suggested through the way the three orbs are disposed, one at the top, the other two below it.

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Then everything is created while the three orbs overlook all creation.

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The story takes us across the universe at a critical point, the birth of self-awareness, represented by the eye.

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Through the eye we see the Earth, which gradually contracts, from a sphere of great energy to a cube-shaped rock floating among debris.

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This is a representation of how human perception can make even the most outstanding things seem devoid of meaning and magic. The cube symbolizes conformity, safety, rigidity, imposition. It is not a shape that is indigenous to nature, it is a human creation, an artificial construct. It even looks like a prison. The metaphor is clear, humans have mutilated Earth and human experience so that they could fit it inside the box of ideology. And so, the light went dimmer and dimmer, until it could barely be seen. It didn’t disappear, it was just blocked out of our perception. The debris that surrounds our planet are remnants of that destruction.

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The next thing we see is an amalgamation of buildings of modern architecture stranded on an island in the middle of what appears to be a sea or an ocean. Above this metropolis there is a large and menacing dark cloud that suggests an imminent danger as well as industrial pollution. The debris is floating around but not sufficiently close to the concrete island so that it can be easily noticed. The feeling I get is that the level of the water that surrounds the island is a side effect of global warming. This image also suggests a feeling of isolation and disconnection from nature.

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At a closer look, we can see these big buildings are floating above the the rest. They are standing in front of the sun, which makes them look like they’re floating on a pillow of light, suggesting that they represent some kind of ideal of the modern world, that place towards which humans aspire. Climbing the hierarchy. This is also hinted to by the triangular shape of their arrangement. The buildings on the sides are smaller, while the ones in the middle are the highest. By contrast, the world below these buildings seems small and insignificant, orderly disposed and unimposing in any way. In fact it looks like arable land, which is something that is exploitable. The fact that these large constructions block the light of the sun suggests that they are what is preventing the rest of the world from becoming, well…enlightened. They hold the knowledge that those below are obstructed from receiving.

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We are then presented with what appears to be the largest building of all. The dark cloud seems to emanate from it. At this point you feel like a higher intelligence is dissecting the world so that you may be guided towards the truth. It feels like you are taken on a journey that shows you what hides beneath appearances.
The building has the darkest color of all, suggesting the malicious orientation of those residing there. When it is sectioned, light comes out, which indicates that those at the top, the elites, hold great knowledge and that that knowledge is restricted to those within that group. The red shade at the top implies that the knowledge they hold is used for negative purposes. That’s why the light is tainted in the color of blood.

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We are then taken inside the top of the building where we see a number of hooded figures which seem to conjure up a red cube. The hooded figures seem to worship this cube. Their creation does not seem to have solidy, which suggests it’s an ideology, a belief and a restrictive one (shape) at that as well as destructive (color). They have come up with a new frame. And in the next scene we see why.

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The cube traverses a sea of people who seem distracted and reaches a man whose eyes are closed, who literally has a whole in his chest where a darkness swarms and who assumes a straight position, with his arms by his side glued to his body. Then we see the red cube enclose his head. The cube seems to single him out from the crowd. What I think this means is that the new ideology – which is a distortion of truth – reaches those who do not use their critical thinking (eyes closed), who hold resentment within (hole in his chest) and who refuse to take responsibility for their actions and to claim agency (arms by his side). The position he assumes is that of a lower rank officer in the military, someone who bows to authority and renounces free will in exchange of not having to take responsibility for his actions. Therefore he represents the enforcer of the ideology that is imposed from above.

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We then see the effects of this ideology. It makes mere servants out of people. It creates societies where people don’t care about each other, everyone minding their own business, it crams people into narrow places and forces them into boring jobs where they step over each other to reach the top in a hierarchy that does not honor virtue but compliance. It burdens people with debt and makes them enamored with material possessions.

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The next scene shows people whose head is disjoint from the body. This is a powerful metaphor for one of the most pervasive problems we have: a head-centric approach to everything that surrounds us. This prevents us from plugging into reality and having a full experience of life. We glorify the intellect and we dismiss the intelligence of the body. We treat ourselves like walking heads as if the body’s only real function is merely logistical.

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This is a quote from Philip Shepherd that I found via Bernhard Guenther which captures the intent of this scene:

“As long as you continue to live in your head, the self will not even exist as an unbroken whole: when conscious thinking is independent of being, the male element is deliberately fracturing self and world. It is only when the pelvic center of your being is sensitized and fully participant in your consciousness—massively connecting and communicating— that the various and divergent aspects of the self will be able to reconcile into a whole.

The body holds the deepest currents of our being, and is our bridge to the life of the world around us – the being of the world. By separating the center of our thinking from all that, we enter a kind of alienation that makes us feel like spectators on the events that surround us.

Furthermore, we start managing from on high what we cannot experience, because head-centric thinking is keen to create structures of control, systemization, judgment and acquisition. But being out of touch and off balance ourselves, we can only seed more imbalance with every willful, managerial impulse – even when our impulses spring from an agenda that seeks to improve things.

The desire to behave ethically, if coming from a place of disconnected reason, will necessarily focus on fixing how our behavior affects the material world; because disconnected reason tacitly expresses a contempt for the body, it will overlook the problem of how our relationship with the body affects our behavior.

This is our blind spot – and it is a towering liability, because our relationship with the world can only mirror and express the relationship we have with our own bodies. Having estranged ourselves from the body and its wisdom, we find ourselves also estranged from the world and its wisdom.”

– Philip Shepherd, New Self New World

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This is further reinforced by the next scene where the head seems to erode into debris. This is a metaphor for dissociation. The fact that electronic devices are present in these images is not accidental, they contribute greatly to our state of inner division. There was even an experiment that showed that the attention span of a person has significantly decreased recently. When you are disconnected from the body and the society you live in is so alien to your true nature, you tend to dissociate and fall into depression, which is not a mental illness that needs to be fixed, it’s most often a symptom of the kind of society we live in, the kind that would produce such reactions in the people that live in it. It’s like Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

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We are shown how everything is upside down and how, as time passes, we all start to feel empty and how a dark cloud lurks over our heads that we feel is becoming unbearable. We suspect that something is wrong, but we assume that it’s us, that we are not adaptable, that we need to try harder to fit in. Which produces monsters in our minds and creates what Carl Jung called the shadow, which is that aspect of ourselves that we have denied expression of and suppressed in order to comply with the definitions of normality that this world imposed on us. This shadow always lurks within us triggering reactive behaviors in us, causing conflict, because it wants to be integrated, it wants to be seen, it wants to be expressed.

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But we don’t integrate it because everybody puts on the mask of happiness, which fortifies the belief that the problem resides in you, which it does, but not in the way you think. The problem isn’t that you have dark things inside that need to be eradicated, they have their reasons for existing there. They are manifestations of those parts of yourself that you have chosen to ignore or that you have mutilated just so that the world would accept you. What the problem really is is that you see the shadow aspects of yourself and instead of trying to get to the bottom of how they came to be, you try to mask them. You feel ashamed about having them and you identify with this negative side of yourself, you really believe you are just angry and bitter and envious. So why is it not apparent that there’s something more beyond these emotions? Because you are presented with another layer of deception, which is your “identity”, your persona. The persona is where all the shoulds are. You should be kind, you should be generous, you should be strong, you should be calm, etc. You should be all the good things. And whenever you fail, it is an indication that you are a bad person or that you are not good enough or that you’re not meant to do something. If you display anger, instead of looking deeper into it and find where it leads you, you start to feel bad about yourself for having shown anger and you will try to force yourself into never displaying anger again so that you may believe yourself to be that perfect person, that persona. That’s why the mask is always smiling. Because that’s what people aspire towards, believing that they can ‘fake it till they make it’. And that’s also why it’s promoted on TV. Because assumed identity wants to advance itself. And that can be easily exploited by intelligent marketing campaigns.

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Here’s a quote by Edward Bernays, the father of propaganda:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

You are encouraged to add value to yourself. And what is value in this sick society? The appearance of success in the form of material possessions, status, popularity and power.

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The story progresses to a scene of remarkable emotional power. Two masked figures embracing each other in bed, empty alcohol bottles surrounding them. While their masks have wide smiles, you can tell by the way they are holding each other that they are not as happy as they seem. The strong grasp of each other suggests that they are seeking refuge in one another, they are looking for a way to escape the cruel reality they are living in. This idea is consolidated by the empty alcohol bottles that are by their sides which is another way to evade reality. This scene is particularly sad because it suggests that even intimate relationships are formed at a superficial level as long as we relate to one another from our false sense of identity. We fear that if we put our masks down we will be exposed and vulnerable. But there is no true connection without vulnerability. And what this breeds is co-dependence, not love. And we are in desperate need for connection and affection and love.

[TO BE CONTINUED…]

Originally posted on Steemit:
https://steemit.com/art/@astrayingline/analysis-of-the-short-film-in-shadow-part-1