Recently, I have discussed the ways that our modern wealth of information has not necessarily brought us happiness. The breadth of information and information technology highlights our responsibility to connect with our souls and choose wisely among the information available to us. Though movies are not new technology, I marvel at the ways films have been presented in recent years and the fact that previously obscure information has made its way to so many people at the same time. Today, I’d like to share with you the top four movies of recent years that I have recommended and quoted a lot in my lectures.These movies have themes that complement or reflect messages that I think are important for humanity.
1. The 11th Hour (2007)
As you watched the parade of experts illustrating the dire condition of our planet in this documentary hosted by Leonardo DiCaprio, you may have felt many emotions, including fear, sadness, and anger. Regardless of how we felt, however, it’s difficult not to conclude that as a planet and a species we are out of time. Being angry won’t do any good, and being sad won’t solve anything either. Now is the time to act. It is up to us to heal our ailing planet. I think the movie’s message is this: “The reason I exist on earth right now is to love it. I can no longer entrust the planet to anyone else and believe they will solve all of its problems. I, myself, must act immediately.” Watching this movie, we must ask ourselves “How am I taking action?” I hope to impress this awareness and sense of urgency on everyone I meet. It is in this context that the Earth Citizen Movement and One Dollar Project I have advocated were started. Leaving aside nationality, race, ethnicity, and religion, we need to adopt a primary identity as Earth Citizens and act to heal the planet.
2. Eight Below (2006)
A touching tale of loyalty, Eight Below demonstrates that mind can commune with mind in the animal realm as well as the human one. It is thrilling to watch the eight sled dogs cooperate to survive as they move toward hope. They lift themselves out of desperate circumstances, and remain true to their trainer to the very end. In one particular scene I was moved by seeing the dogs moving across ice. When the ice is thick, they just run in a straight line. But when the ice seems thin enough to break, they fan themselves out, preparing to help each other should one of them fall through. Besides being smart, I think this kind of teamwork demonstrates their trust, faith, and love. It also reflects a meeting of their minds and their ability to work together in harmony. Isn’t that life, mind communing with mind? We can achieve true success when we each give it our all to move directly toward our goal, pulling each other and helping each other along. I think we can see a model for our own lives, and indeed, all of human life, in this movie.
3. 2012 (2009)
Rather than just having another “end of the world” message, I felt the movie 2012 suggested that we should prepare for a new civilization. While in deep meditation on Mt. Moak 30 years ago, I saw two potential futures of the earth. One was the planet tragically being destroyed by a natural disaster like in 2012. Another was human beings recovering their humanity and remaking the planet into a world more beautiful than any other. I think that our planet is suffering growing pains as it creates a springboard for transformation into a greater consciousness, a new civilization. As I watched the movie, I saw that the hopes and dreams of our species and our planet would vanish unless the consciousness of the whole human race grows. Ultimately, this change in consciousness, and therefore the future of the species and the planet, depends on how human beings use their brains. We can continue to use our brains to create destruction and competition for resources, or we can access the harmony and oneness inherent in our brains and trust that our brains will find the solutions for creating a healthy, peaceful planet.
4. Avatar (2009)
Avatar was one of my favorite movies because I felt it expressed the messages I have been delivering for the past thirty years better than any other movie I’ve seen so far. I felt like this movie was almost made for the Earth Citizen Movement. I saw the battle of the people from Earth against the those of Pandora as symbolizing the struggle of the ego versus the inherent divine nature, of the loss of humanity versus its recovery, and the valuation of the material world versus the spiritual. Human beings had caused the degradation of the Earth and turned it into a world of material values and desires, a world of the ego characterized by competition, invasion, and domination. The world of Pandora still expressed its divine nature, harmony, and spirit when the humans attacking it threatened to do the same to it as they did to the Earth. The Navi lived in harmony and communed with all creation. They connected to the cosmic consciousness that linked the planet, spirit, and all beings as one. This movie shows us how the ego causes the collapse of cosmic harmony and order through endless human greed. The same battle and dichotomy is reflected within the main character, Jake Sully. Before he dons his avatar and meets the Navi, he has a purely human perspective and is mostly concerned with protecting his team and getting his legs back. His thoughts are mostly ego-based. But as he learns how to “see” like the Navi, his central values shift and he can perceive and connect to the spiritual wonders around and within him. The movie Avatar offers a message on the value of life, and on the loss and recovery of our humanity.