Suppose one is sitting in the movie theater
and completely identified with a character in
the movie. Suddenly the realization comes that
we are the spectator of the film, seated in a
room full of people. There is a shift. That subtle
shift in awareness is a good analogy for the
realization of the Self.
Although the movie continues, we now have a ‘global’ vision
and no longer identify with any of the separate
roles, since the vision now resides in the understanding
that it is a play. There is no longer any personal
bias or involvement towards this or that character.
Within the limitations of the metaphor, some
1. Is this shift of an ‘experiential’ nature?
Yes, but of a subtle nature, since it's a shift
that involves the mind. I've been watching
the movie all along; the only difference is
that now the involvement and the identification
are not there anymore. My ‘attention’ has shifted.
2. Are we seeing the different names and forms of the characters
Yes, but the ‘context’ has changed. The fact we
are no longer involved (in ‘depth’) takes care
of the ‘three dimensional’ aspect of our identification
with the movie. We now see images dancing on a flat screen;
we understand their relationship; in fact, we now see ‘only’ relationships.
The characters don't have a choice, since they are woven by
the threads of the plot, but if we were to identify again with
the roles, then we would again experience the uncomfortable
feeling of doubt, choice, and insecurity of outcome that the
characters are ‘experiencing’.
3. What is my relationship with the images? Can I alter the
script of the movie?
No, although before, while deeply involved, I had the feeling
that I could do this.
4. Do I want to alter the way the play develops?
No, since I am not involved anymore (apart from the fact that
I can't anyway).
5. So then, with this kind of attention shift, has anything really
For an ‘outside’ observer, nothing has changed. I
am still seated in a movie theater, surrounded by people, watching
a movie which is simply images on a flat blank screen. But, from ‘my’ point
of view, EVERYTHING has changed, since my relationship to the
movie has changed; in fact, it has disappeared.
Now the question is, who would want to go see a movie where you
can't be involved and identified with one or several of the characters
(or the play)? It seems it takes away all the fun! The answer
lies in the different ways that children of a young age and adults
see a movie. While the child is completely absorbed, suffers
the death of his/her hero, and can't even really establish the
boundaries between screen and reality, an adult enjoys the movie
because he ‘knows’ that it is fiction. Once this
happens, there is no longer any need to shift one's attention ‘out’ and ‘feel’ that
we are seated in a movie theater (except if we have been duped
and went to a horror movie by mistake!), because there is the
underlying understanding that it is only a movie. This understanding
allows us to enjoy the movie again, even if it makes us cry.
The witness and the witnessed have merged again, but now in a
complete different way.
Is Life a movie played on the flat screen of our mind, illumined
by the potent light behind the projector, and passing through
the lens of our body/minds? Are there any spectators of this
film, or is it playing in an empty theater?
If we try to answer these questions, we are
starting to watch another movie..., maybe
it's time to leave the cinema and enjoy the
fresh air of a spring day's evening.
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