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Through the glass, darkly

20 Mar

Those who have read “Many lives, many masters ” may recall that this book is about the reportedly real experiences of Dr. Weiss, the psychologist, encountered by him while treating one of his patients, who would have past life regressions during her  hypnotic states. The book did leave one wondering… who knows?

This afternoon I was watching a film by Ingmar Bergman , “Through  a glass darkly”. The name apparently is an indication of how we perceive God while we are still in this existence , clarity coming to us only on death. The story in the film unfolds over a twenty four  hour period, when the four characters, the only ones , are on a vacation on an isolated kind of island. Karin, the daughter has just come back after being treated for schizophrenia , her husband Martin, is a sensitive person  who is sincerely in love with her  and knows that she depends on him to help her to bridge the divides in her mind. Her brother Minus is terrified of his incestuous yearnings , which she, in her confused state seems to subtly encourage. The father , David, had sought escape in his writings , running away from the loneliness and coldness of his own heart, staying away from the family ,disinclined to deal with his daughter’s illness , as we come to learn that his wife had suffered similarly before she died. He tells Martin that he had even tried to kill himself by trying to drive his car into the sea over a cliff , which didn’t come to be because it developed some snag and the car was left standing with its front wheels in the air. At that point, he says , the emptiness had disappeared because he had suddenly become aware of his love for Karina and Minus , his children and also for Martin and that had given him hope.

The film is depressing, the loneliness of the sea front and the old house, all accentuating the narrative of  the dark and sombre  goings on in their minds.

Karina has hallucinations about waiting in a room, full of people with bright faces , for the door to open and God to walk in. In one of those spells she leaves the house and is found by her brother in the old wreck of a ship that had been lodged near the shore. What follows is not explicit ..but Karina then begs her father that she be taken to the hospital and that she was tired of flitting between one reality and  another and that she had to decide between the two. The film ends with a conversation between Minus and his father after the helicopter had carried Karina and her husband away , on their way to the hospital in the town.

Minus:      I’m scared Papa. When I sat holding Karen in the old wreck, reality burst open. Do you    understand what I mean?

Father:    Yes , I understand

Minus:    Reality burst open and I tumbled out. It’s like a dream. Anything can happen Papa, anything.

Father:      I know

Minus:     I can’t live in this new world Papa

Father:    Yes you can . But you must have something to hold on to.

Minus:    What could that be, a God? Give me some proof of God. You can’t.

Father:   Yes, I can. But you have to listen carefully.

Minus:   Yes I need to listen

Father:   I can only give you a hint of my own hope. It’s knowing that love exists for real in the human world.

Minus:   A special kind of love , I suppose

Father:   All kinds of love . All kinds Minus; the highest and the lowest, the most absurd and the most sublime. All kinds of love

Minus:   The longing for love?

Father:  The longing and denial, trust and distrust.

Minus:   So love is the proof?

Father:  I don’t know if love is the proof of the existence of God or not. It’s like a reprieve , Minus, from a death sentence.

Minus:  If it is as you say, then Karen is surrounded by God since we love her?

Father:  Yes

Minus :  Can that help her?

Father : I believe so

Minus:   For you, love and God are the same?

Father:  That thought helps me in my emptiness and dirty despair.
Minus:  Tell me more Papa.
Father:  Suddenly, the emptiness turns into abundance and despair into  life.

( In case you are wondering how I managed to remember the dialogue so accurately, here’s how..I kept pressing the pause button to write it down from the sub titles.)

And then there is all of Carl Jung’s work  in which he points to a collective sub-conscious from where we draw our individual psyches . So  what then  is the source of the so called” evil “that manifests itself  in us . Are some of us born with those tendencies . If so why? How do we distinguish ourselves as separate from the “evil” , if indeed we are just segmented manifestations of a whole combined reality? Won’t we become more compassionate if we can but really, really get even a fleeting feeling of it?

Whatever that may be, Love does turn emptiness into abundance and despair into life. Of that I am sure.

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