So much happening around you. Do you need to talk?
“Yes, I do and nobody listens to me better than you. Do you have time to do that?
Oh yes….lots of time…go on. Are you happy with yourself?
“Most of the time now, yes. Gosh, but it’s taken me a lifetime to get here.”
Why wasn’t it easy earlier ?
“Too many guidelines from too many sources that would make me judge myself . I would qualify on many counts and fail miserably on others. I was confused.”
But you did keep talking to me, didn’t you? I remember your conversations from the time you were a kid.
“Yes…and thank goodness for that.”
You were about to say , thank God for that and then changed it to goodness. Why?
“Because the second I take God’s name so many images that have been superimposed from outside take over and I don’t like some of those images. “
You mean Allah’s image of a vindictive old man who is waiting to pounce on you for not worshipping him enough?
“No…not just Allah. I don’t like the images of the Hindu Gods either who were introduced to me as divine beings but with all the weaknesses of humans and all this high and low of castes and all that. I kind of like Jesus . He is cool and seems to personify the loving , forgiving, all embracing image most. But then, he cannot be God himself. Buddha talked about nothingness . I don’t want to think of God as nothingness either. It should be everythingness, right?”
Okay, let’s drop that and talk about more mundane things. Are you happy with the way you’ve conducted yourself?
“Not all the time. I’ve been responsible for disharmony many times, whenever I was focussed more on myself . But I haven’t honestly wanted anyone to be unhappy. I haven’t robbed or killed or been really jealous. No that’s not true. I’m a non-vegetarian. Lots of animals and birds have been killed in my name.”
But that’s okay , don’t you think? You have to have nourishment to survive. That is a basic requirement of nature. Killing for sustenance of your physical existence seems to be the way nature seems to have ordained it.
“I’m not so sure…may be when there is no other source of food and may be when you are wired to eat only flesh. That definitely isn’t the case with me. I can stay off eating non-veg and still survive. So do I really need to take another life?”
Okay , let’s forget that for now. Can you love without conditions of religion, nation, caste, region, language, colour of skin, looks, gender ..the works?
“Yes, I can. I most definitely can. I always have. I always will.”
Is that just a private thing ?What if you are put to the test? What if your son wants to marry someone of his choice who breaks all those parameters? Will you be okay with that?
“ I most certainly will . All I would want is their happiness. “
But will you be okay with being side-lined by your society for that? Those lines are being drawn more emphatically now . People are ready to kill for so called honour.
“What do YOU think? Is love conditional?”
I don’t think so. You can condition yourself to think so, but in itself it is not.
“ So too with God, right? Don’t you feel most at peace and blissful when you imagine that none of us exists in these forms that we are attired in and there is nothing but a knowing silence and there is a gentle breeze and fragrances and lilting music which is part of the silence, where each of us that ever lived is there and yet not there ? “
Yep. But …tell me this . Are you feeling proud of yourself at this moment?
“Oops! I can’t escape you, can I? There is no pride when I’m lost in that moment. But now when I’m talking to you…perhaps . We can work on that right ?”
Sure. Are you scared to die ?
“ I was. Not of hell or anything like that. I was scared of being lonely, of being wrenched away from the people I loved , of never being able to communicate with them, of this thought that I would no longer be part of their lives, of forgetting all the wonderful moments of connection with others that I’ve experienced, of forgetting what it is to be alive”
“ Now I’m dead sure that is not going to be like that. I think all we have to do is to click on “save” when those moments of pure love and connection settles in our hearts and delete everything else and then hey presto, it’s all there just the way you wanted it when the disrupted electricity comes on again. Who knows , may be there is an auto-save mechanism too! C’mon, we are talking of an all encompassing , benign whatever you want to call it. So no worries about dying now.”
Glad we had this discussion, right?
“Sure am. So glad you are there for me. Let me give you a hug”
Category Archives: spirituality
Mind, heart and the Matrix.
This is such a compelling video.
Gregg Bradden gives us all the reasons why we need to stay away from the calls to align ourselves with one group or another and continue perceiving the “other” as separate from us and hence to be handled with mistrust in the least and hatred at the worst and instead dwell on our positive positve emotions that want the world to be a better place.
Because only we can make it happen.
Here are some excerpts from the video.
“For the past 300 years, our science has been based on tow false assumptions.
T he first is that everyone is separate from everyone else. What is happening in one place has no effect on what happens anywhere else and if it looks like it, it is only a coincidnece.
The second false assumption is that our inner experiences –thoughts, emotions, feelings and beliefs have no effect beyond our bodies.”
“Studies now prove that it is human emotions, specifically the magnetic fileds produced by the human heart during certain kinds of emotions, that now our darkness is extending far beyond our bodies into the physical world and now to such a degree that there are satellites, hundreds of miles away from the surface of the earth are able to pick those up”
“When a certain number of people come together and they choose at a moment of time to create a precise emotion in their hearts, that emotion can literally influence the very fields that sustain the life on planet earth.”
“What makes this beautiful is that every human on this planet is linked to the magnetic field, but not every human on the planet has to be consciously aware of the relationship to benefit what a few number of people can come to understand .”
“The bottom-line is this….when we choose to feel feelings that create what is called coherence in our bodies..coherence is that quality of the language between our hearts and our brains, certain kinds of heart-based experiences such as appreciation,gratitude, forgiveness care, compassion…those are the ancient understandings that have always been taught in the truest traditions of our past and now science is finding that those same traditions are now documenting this real effect in our hearts. When we can feel those feelings in our bodies , they are mirrored in the field in which everybody benefits from the experiences of a few.”
“The world around us..our own science is now telling us that there is a field of energy underlying all physical reality. It is known now by names that range from simply the field, some people call it Nature’s mind, some scientists call it the mind of God, some call it the Matrix, the divine matrix and so on”.
What we’re now beginning toi understand is that when we create the felling of what we choose to experience in our lives , everything from conscious choices, the perfect relationship, abundance in our lives,healing in our bodies , healing in the bodies of our loved ones, those feelings are creating the patterns of magnetic fields in our hearts that are literally re-arranging the stuff of this quantum soup, this quantum essence, allowing the pattern of what we manifest in the world around us. It is less about attracting from the scientific perspective and more about consciously creating the template within us knowing that the stuff of the universe will congeal around the template in the world around us to simply mirror-reflect what we have claimed.
In other words, a very simple way of looking at this and you’ve probably heard this before, is that we must become in our lives, the very things that we choose to experience in our world”.
One journey at it’s close
And the tired boatman gone
The oars and ripples and the eventide
Waiting all forlorn
The clouds are close and curious
Peeking into the silent deep
The waters though are in no mood
To share the secrets they keep.
Tomorrow when the sun appears
And another soul does wake
The boat will be steered again
Across the mysterious lake.
In search of grace
The thirsty soul
Seeking , searching
Hands held together,
Palms raised upwards
Grace to receive
Knees bent humbly
Peace to find.
Eyes closed,looking inwards
Observing the fleeting breath
Trying hard to figure out
The mystery of life and death
Their voices mingle
As they pray
To the source that sings
Through night and day.
The longing to be
Secure and free
The yearning to drown
In Love’s boundless sea.
It’s so easy to see
It’s all the same
Yet we choose to hate
In religion’s name.
Does that make sense?
If we sieve and separate
Dessicate the DNA
From the whole
If we distill away
All we learnt from school
And bleach our religions
And their rules
If we winnow the words
From the books we read
And the rsidue they left
Inside our heads
If we boiled the ideas
Handed down by our peers
And evaporated our emotions
Accumulated through the years.
What would we be
In our pure essence?
We’d be like each other!!
Does that make any sense?
An infidel’s prayer
Born into a muslim family , “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali , is not a book I should’ve been reading in the month of Ramadaan. And definitely not the kind of book I should be reading on the train while coming to be with my old mother , who has had a recent surgery for a fracture on her femur. I should be praying to Allah for her speedy recovery , as would be recommended by the religion I am supposed to espouse. And yet , I was hooked on to her tale , following her through Somalia , to Saudi Arabia, to Ethiopia and Kenya and Holland. I was wonderstruck at her resilience, her uncompromising spirit . The range of experiences and suffering she had gone through left me in a constant state of curiosity ..what came next..what is there on the next page? How did she come to terms with her tribal/religious upbringing when the questions started tormenting her…questions regarding a compassionate God, who as per the book would punish us with the everlasting fires of hell, for our misdemeanors. Did she come to terms with it at all?
Imagine a little girl who had even undergone genital mutilation to supposedly preserve her “purity” and who had had no trouble abiding by the dictats of her community, growing up in Africa through the years when the different states were in a state of war torn anarchy and from there fighting her destiny all on her own to become a Member of Parliament in the Dutch Government , surviving a death threat and still standing tall and unbent .
But I had just about reached the chapter where she was about to be enrolled in one of the prestigious universities in Holland , where she had sought asylum, in an attempt to escape from a marriage her father had made her undergo, of course which was to be in her best interests, according to the paternalistic mores. I had gone off to sleep and had to get down at my hometown Kannur, early next morning. The book was left behind , I think , for I’ve been trying to locate it in amongst my clothes and stuff and it seems to have disappeared.
I’d bought “Infidel” and Arun Shourie’s book , “Does he know a Mother’s heart?” after many, many , many months of not stepping into a bookshop. I had actually been thrilled to be holding two brand new books in my hand. The smell of new print , the crisp paper, the prospect of turning through the pages to delve into the personal accounts of intimate journeys through the minds and spirit of two , whose circumstances in life was intense enough to shake loose the bedrock of faith . to gauge and assess one’s own churnings in the light of the meanings of life that they had discovered for themselves, was an invitation, I could hardly resist, to say the least.
I started with Arun Shourie’s book, his personal memoirs about his relationship with Faith and the denial of it through the journey of bringing up his only son who is affected with cerebral palsy. and I couldn’t finish it. Pages and pages of it were just quotes from the Koran and the Bible , which would ,to any questioning human being , raise doubts about the compassion and love of the God we are supposed to worship, make us wonder at Hell and the unforgiving nature of the Master of the Universe, when he assigns suffering to us and eventually confine us to the flames to be roasted continuously without ever having any reprieve. Shourie is supposed to go on with his questioning with the established ritualistic Hindu religion as well, but I didn’t get there. The problem was , I think, that for someone who has had issues with religions where questioning is not allowed, Shourie’s exposition was a dull repetition . He was meandering again and again through the same material.
I have always wondered, is communication more difficult for men than women? Not about the knowledge, not about the intellectual range, not about the reasoning part or logic…but something remains missing in the emotional content which would make writings of such a personal dimension relatable to the reader. Is it because men are loathe to reveal what they actually “feel”. Is it that they cannot find the words to express them or is it that doing so is a sign of exhibitionism in their perspective? Or may be men can indeed relate to it and women cannot. Or may be they can and it is just me who has a problem. Whatever. ……although both books are in the same genre, Arun Shourie’s narrative did not touch my heart the way Ayaan Hirshi Ali’s did. And now may be I will not be able to finish reading her tale as well, for a while.
My mother is in pain. She is in denial. She is depressed. Old age is trying, very trying, particularly if one hasn’t learnt to let go of attachments, of being in control. My mother is a namaazi. She has fasted during Ramadaan for the most part of her eighty plus years. She has abiding faith in the Holy book and in Allah’s compassion. None of which seem to be helping her through her suffering now. The standard rhetoric is of course that God(by whatever appellation) keeps testing us. Unless you can blindly, sedatedly, unreasoningly believe that, the question will continue nagging you….why would anyone want to do that, untiringly through all the “Time” that there was ,is and is going to be.? “Surrender” to a Power who can never be satisfied with the incessant “testing” of it’s own powers ?
I’ll probably burn in Hell and yet … … I cannot deny the feeling of infinite love that fills me in moments of silence. And I’m okay with appealing to that entity of Abundant Love to help relieve her insecurities , her fear of the unknown , which makes her cling on so desperately to her own image of physical strength and endurance and will power. I pray that she accepts the fact that it is okay to be vulnerable , to be weak , to be dependent. I pray that her mind may be free from the chatter and noise in which we find affirmation of our Self. I pray that she is able to surrender, really surrender .
Mind and its mysteries
Took the day off from my normal routine, as I was feeling tardy since I awoke. Remnants of the happenings I had experienced in sleep mode? Do not know.
Was reading all day, on the monitor, that is. First, “The doors to Perception”, by Aldous Huxley. (My son had uploaded for me a sizeable collection of e-books) about his experiments with the drug “mescalin” and his conclusions about the possible effects of “chemicals” on our perception, some of which such as “adrenchrome” may be spontaneously produced by our body. So, poets, painters, musicians etc. whom we refer to as the “gifted ones” may in fact owe their genius to their neurobiology. And mystics too, may be capable of an altered consciousness because of the way particular regions of the brain many have developed or the chemicals produced by their cells and that is perhaps why they become aware of a reality that is denied to the general population.
Went on to read a couple of essays by a guy named Ingrid Solano , that I had bookmarked a few weeks ago , which was also a take –off on the same subject , with relevance to our notions of “right “and “wrong”. The gist of what he says is that our sense of right or wrong can be impaired by the biological condition of our brains, in that, our sense of empathy, which is the basis of moral behavior ( do unto others as you would have done unto you) may become kind of numb and while we may still intellectually understand something as “wrong” , we may not “feel” the effect of our actions on others and hence lose what we generally term as “guilt” or “compunction”.
Then there is Charles Darwin and his view that an understanding of morality is best based on a study of the evolution of Man and that a moral sense can exist even in a person who has no belief in a higher Intelligence from whom the rules of behavior are believed to emanate according to most religions that have existed and are existing. Morality , according to him, can come from an instinctive understanding that if one “acts for the good of others , one receives the approbation of fellow men and gains the love of those with whom he lives.”
James Rachel’s , “Created from Animals:The moral implications of Darwinism “ and Frans De Waal’s , “Good Natured:the origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and other animals “, also propounded on the same issues, as one can gather from excerpts that can be accessed on the internet. Social instincts/morality work towards greater harmony among groups or in other words, what promotes the best interests and harmony in a group is what is generally considered as moral. But there is apparently a hierarchy , altruism first coming into play within the closest kin, then to the group, then to each and every member of one’s species.
As a rule, they say, reciprocal altruism will not occur when individuals are unlikely to meet again and that it requires good memories and stable relationships. To see oneself in the plight of another is the basic building block of morality. So that would mean, that the more “evolved” we are, the greater should be our capacity for feeling a connection with the rest of our species and to other species as well . We should also then assume that for the “evolved”, their neurobiology would be such as to predetermine such altruism and harmonious behaviour would come naturally to them. In other words, it is part of their genetic make-up. As for those whom we consider, ”misanthropists”, or as a “deviant” or “psychotic”, it could just be that they are chemically compositioned that way?
There is a quotation from Marquis De Sade which was quoted in this context in one of the essays I read. “One must feel sorry for those who have strange tastes, but never insult them. Their wrong is Nature’s wrong too; they are no more responsible for having come into the world with tendencies unlike ours, than are we for being born bandy-legged or well proportioned.”. So then, “right” or “wrong” really has no basis for being “applauded” or condemmed. It’s just the way we are. And we owe ourselves some compassion. One can understand that.
Chemical imbalances in the brain can be triggered off by distress and trauma. Accidents and illness can alter the disposition of our brains. Mystics can have a heightened consciousness which gave them a sense of reality, much larger and intense than ordinarily available to the rest of us. All of this one can understand at an intellectual level. But how do we get to be hardwired in the way we are? Why do we get to undergo the particular circumstances that become the cause for distress or sets off a particular mental or “spiritual” experience? Is that where the “karma” theory comes into play? Do we still have something called “freewill” that will determine our evolution , both as individuals and in terms of this homogenous mass of “ human consciousness” in this universe, hurtling itself forward to “God” knows where?
The forgotten tune
Back in time
Before I cried
For that which
I thought was mine
There was a child
Whose cord was tied
To the soul
Of the beauteous Divine.
When I didn’t know
Of a heaven above
Or a hell below
Soul or spirit
Shore or tide
There were no limits
To matter or mind.
Light as gossamer
Bright as light
Like a shimmering stream
On a moonlit night
Soft music that bound
Yet set me free
To dwell in the dewdrop
And the infinite sea
Song that swept through
The morning so mild
And the tender smile
Of the sleeping child.
But somewhere along
The “I” arose
And the ethereal song
Got splintered and gross.
Each note then
Grew alien and strange
And went its own way
Beyond the blue range
Sometimes they listen
To a distant drum
A teardrop then glistens
On the strings that hum.
A shiver of ecstacy
A dizzy swoon
A longing to remember
The forgotten tune.
In the echoes of a conchshell
In the muezzin’s call
In the chime of the churchbells
From the spires tall
In the silence that settles
Into the heart of the night
In an unspoken word
In a breath so slight
In a moment of forgiveness
In a loving touch that’s pure
The music of oneness
Returns once more.
Submitted to http://thursdaypoetsrallypoetry.blogspot.com/
When we meet again
And sure we will
Drenched in the rain
Our hearts we’ll fill
With past remembrances
Some sad, some sweet
And we’ll walk o’er the grass
With naked feet.
I am very grateful to receive this appreciation and I accept it in all humility. I nominate
Sometimes, there comes a stage in life, when one feels pushed against the wall, when the bulwark of faith , hope and optimism comes crumbling down, smothering you in the debris. Everything around you is dismally dark and it then seems that the tunnel will just go on and on, that the claustrophobia will only get worse and that there never will be even a glimmer of light at the end.
Why should this be happening to me? I never did intentionally harm anybody. These and a thousand other unanswered questions would constantly run around in my mind during that period of trauma that descended on us. It hit everyone concerned, in ways that I could never have imagined in my scariest nightmares and I began to sink under the huge, heavy boulder of guilt.
Sometimes, it is just when one is sinking, flailing about to clutch at the flimsiest of straws, that a huge wave lifts you high and sweeps you away to the most serene of shores.
That’s what happened to me. I was introduced to Vipassana meditation.
I had heard about it for the first time from what then appeared to me, a seemingly unlikely candidate to be venturing towards spirituality (a hugely prejudiced misconception on my part ). It was years ago, when during the course of a television interview, Madhu Sapre, the model, talked about a difficult spell in her life and how vipassana meditation had helped her get through that phase and restore her calm. Strangely, that is the only part of that interview which has remained in my memory. Later on, I heard of it again through a colleague and friend of mine, who had attended a ten-day vipassana course, along with her sister.
My mother prays five times a day. My father never did. He never did overtly question religion or its practices. He didn’t totally conform, that’s all and yet thinking back ( he died when he was just a year or two older than I am now), I know, that it had seemed to me even as a child, that he had all the qualities of a genuinely good human being. He was affectionate , he was generous, he was honest , but he didn’t go by the book. And by the book, he was slated for hell. That didn’t make sense to me.
My mother used to say, that when I was a kid, I would slip away whenever the old man with the long flowing white beard, who lived in our neighbourhood, went past our gate. I used to think that he was Allah and I was scared of him!
I cannot say when it was that I unconsciously started to militate against the idea of the kind of faith that was based on fear. And as I grew up and would see suffering all around and horrible tragedies happening to wonderfully gentle human beings, I found it harder and harder to reconcile myself with the idea of a compassionate God, particularly when I saw little children afflicted with sickness and pain and hunger. It made no sense to me. Most of all, I could not understand how one could arrive at the truth of one’s existence, when there were so many different contenders, each claiming to be the sole guardian of the knowledge about the hereafter.
So, without the terra-firma of faith under my feet, when I most needed it, I was at the risk of losing my balance and I could not afford to do that at that point of time. Well, in fact, may be, we can never afford to lose it , at any point of time.
I will always, always be indebted in a huge way to my friend who, gently but insistently, nudged me along to sit a ten-day vipassana meditation course. To me, it is the most precious gift, a lifeboat to hang on to, in the most turbulent of storms.
Vipassana meditation is the Buddha’s way to help us come out of our suffering. Yes, at first, his premise that all of life is suffering did not synchronise with what I perceived of life. The individual in me, who wanted to believe that life is filled with wondrous things, who revelled in the beauty of sunsets, who could sit and stare in awe at snow-clad mountains, who loved flowers and children, who loved to be surrounded with the warmth of affections, was the least inclined to go along with that. But at the end of the course, one began to realize what the Buddha meant.
The courses are held in centres that have been established in almost all the states of India and in several centres abroad. For the ten days that one stays at the centre and participates in the meditation course, one is required to maintain complete silence. The silence is not the main feature, but an important enabler for the practice of intensive meditation. Communication is allowed only with the Assistant Teachers, who conduct the course with the help of audio- cassettes containing the recorded instructions of Shri S.N.Goenka, the person who has been responsible for re-establishing this method of meditation in India after a very long interregnum. One can also speak, if necessary to the volunteers who serve on these courses and who are there to provide assistance.
Vipassana meditation is a totally non-sectarian method of looking inwards into oneself, to arrive at an understanding of the connection that exists between mind and matter and what happens when we defile our minds with negativities. (This is not to be confused with any ritualistic practice that is part of modern day Buddhism). Starting with learning to focus continuously on the incoming and outgoing breath, one gradually progresses to the stage of awareness of sensations, gross and subtle, that keep arising within our physical framework . One begins to understand that negativity in the mind, whether of anger or greed, jealousy or insecurity , desire or passion, fear or hatred, will always give rise to unpleasant sensations in the physical component of what we are constituted of and the mind in turn reacts with aversion to these unpleasant sensations, wanting them to disappear. In a broad sense, this is when we start feeling miserable.
And it is not just the aversion to the unpleasant sensations that is the cause of our grief. Every time we feel good, every time we feel pleasure, through our different senses, our physical being is loaded with pleasant sensations and our mind starts craving for more of them. The loss of pleasure or even the fear of losing it, for we know that nothing sustains permanently, makes us miserable again. We then fail to live fully in the present and are constantly regressing to our past or projecting our fears into the future.
At the peripheral level, it is only our intellect that can grasp these truths. All religions warn us against negative deeds and urge us to do that is which good and wholesome . All religions emphasise the value of detachment and, yet, with all our clinging and attachments to the things that are pleasant for us, detachment is the most difficult thing to practice in our daily lives.
We may argue over the different messages in the Gita or the Bible or the Koran and their authenticity. Belief in Heaven and hell is also a matter of faith. Whether there is one lifetime or many is beyond the grasp of our limited knowledge. But there cannot be any denying of a truth that we can come to understand at an experiential level and that is the law of cause and effect. The moment negativity arises in our mind, there is a resultant agitation, a disturbance, like the waters becoming muddy when stirred with a stick or by hurling a stone into it. Very often we manage to suppress it, and we think we have restored our calm, but the mud has merely settled down, not removed and the next time another stone is thrown, the sediments come rising up again.
Through vipassana meditation, one learns to observe the sensations that arise, with equanimity, both the pleasant and the unpleasant, with the awareness that nothing is permanent and that that which arises will pass away. Through continuous practice of this form of meditation, the residue that has been accumulated in our minds can be eradicated, making our minds clearer and calmer. We begin to get a glimpse of what our purer states must be like . Our minds which are accustomed to reacting with craving or aversion, all the time, learn instead to observe and remain calm, unperturbed. It helps us to remain in the present moment, more and more, not forever worrying about the future or burdened with the baggages of the past. We begin to be free.
The Buddha neither affirmed nor denied the existence of God. What he went about teaching till he breathed his last was the art of living this life in the here and now. Vipassana meditation is a wonderful way of achieving that; it is difficult, no doubt, but the results of which one can experience straightaway, without waiting to die.
What I found most striking about the whole thing was that in some way it makes us more empathetic. We begin to realize that even the person who we think as the most vile, as per our judgements and as per their actions, do deserve our compassion and not hatred. Just imagine how much of negativity a person must summon up in order to perpetuate a gross act like rape or killing for example. Would that just vanish away? For how long that must eat away at his inner self. When one becomes more aware of the turmoil, sometimes hidden so deep inside us, it begins to help us wish that such turmoil be wiped away from each and everyone who is suffering in the same way. Compassion is not just a word. It is a process of awareness and there is no way that one can intellectually learn it or make it part of ourselves, except by spending time in deeply looking into our own selves.
With time, I also got over the stumbling block of interpreting the word “detatchment “ as indifference or a deadening of our ability to take joy in anything around us. In fact it helps us better to appreciate the blessings and beauty of our existences, for we do not peg it to its permanence , but to its existence in the here and now.
A long way to go yet. But in many ways , through many days, I am getting better and better.:-)
Through the glass, darkly
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?
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.