Sunday, July 25, 2010

2 Movies, 1 Great Actor, 1 Common Theme, Maybe An Oscar

Leonardo Di Caprio must be very hungry for the Oscars, for the history of winners playing the roles of psychologically inflicted masters is obvious. So we have 2 movies, both starring Di Caprio, one common theme: The Mind.


I caught Inception yesterday afternoon, and walked out almost certain that this reality is a dream. Of course this was just the curious banter of the thoughts, not some direct experiential insight that is the domain of the masters. Dreams are representations of our deepest mental constructs: our desires, aversions and ignorance. The manifestations of these constructs are in interesting ways and are not obvious in most cases and, because of the deeply rooted imprints of these constructs, the experience of the dreamer is alike to that of real life.

The theme of imprinting into the deepest ‘storehouse’ of the mind is similar to the Buddhist teachings of the alaya conciousness that is related to habitual tendencies and karma. Though the idea of going into 2nd and 3rd dream layers to reach this deepest depth is an innovative idea, enlightened masters are able to access this layer through deep meditation.

Lucid dreaming is another main theme of this movie. It’s amazing that the characters in the movie can continue to remain lucid in even the 3rd layer, this should qualify them as supreme meditators hehe. Jokes aside, lucid dreaming is possible, and my guess is the grip of the constructs of desires, aversions and ignorance have to be released to an extent that the experience of reality is radically different. I believe the insight of anatta must have been complete.

Another interesting aspect of the mind is its defense mechanism being an automatic process, seen in the movie as bodyguards in Fisher's dream state. Although it is in dream state, the mind is not able to differentiate any difference, and will repeat its tendencies as though it's in 'reality'. So it perceives the intruders as threats to the subconscious just as it would in the awaken state, dream or awake makes no difference. In other words reality is just a myth, to the mind dream is as real as reality! As the 5 aggregates together creates the illusion of the sense of self and the external world, there's no such thing as a sense of self or the external world to be found outside or within the 5 aggregates.

Finally some spoilers J. Well ok, I’ll not reveal details, will only ask a question. I distinctly remember in an earlier scene of the movie, Cobb spinned his totem and the totem did drop, isn’t it? Could this totem spinning idea be a decoy? Also some nice comments on the movie can be found here.

Shutter Island

Then Selena and Ivan introduced me to the movie Shutter Island, so I watched it this morning (yes I confess, temptation of the World Wide Web is too great). Similar to Inception, the story telling leaves the audience wondering this: What is Reality?

The theme of psychopathic condition and its treatment in this movie is a powerful one. As the character ‘Dr Rachel’, the psychiatrist, said in the movie: once someone is being diagnosed as having a psychotic condition, everything one says and does will be deem to be related to the condition. Wow, so this means one has no chance ever of redemption. This also linked up to some experience as a practitioner, as
Mickey recently just commented to me that 95% of the population doesn’t share the views that I suggest. What if sanity was the domain of these 5% few, while the general perception was actually insanity?

Just as Ted maintained his sanity for much of the movie, one moment of flashback can result in a radical shift in perspective. And the effect of psychedelics is truly amazing, being able to create an altered state of consciousness and remove the veil between imagination and senses. 

Also just as the story is one big fairytale conjured by Andrew, the kind of reality created and perceived by our senses at this moment, due to extent of control the subconscious mind exercise in shaping it, may just be an illusion. Scary thought for the Self. 

So did Ted decide to maintain his dignity and die a sane person? Or did Andrew decide to feign insanity and die together with his pains?

You decide! Probably the fact that both are just as likely also means that there wasn't any Self in the first place in reality.

And by the way, Di Caprio probably told me about the Oscars in a dream, but I’m very sure this is just another figment of my imagination.

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