Avatar is quite possibly the biggest movie of our generation…and for good reason.
Not only does the film herald in several breakthrough film-making technologies, it also marks a major turning point for our culture in terms of spiritual understanding and maturity.
In case you aren't familiar with the film, Avatar is James Cameron's (Titanic, Aliens, Terminator 2) latest creation.
The movie is set in the 22nd century on a foreign moon called Pandora. The 12-foot tall humanoid natives who inhabit the moon are known as the Na'vi.
The story follows Jake Sully, an ex-marine who is sent to a mining outpost atop Pandora in order to control a Human-Na'vi genetically engineered body known as an Avatar.
His initial goal is to infiltrate the Na'vi people, gain their trust, and then convince them to relocate, thereby allowing his corporate employer to mine the precious mineral deposits that sit beneath the Na'vi homeland.
As Jake learns more about the Na'vi people and becomes a part of their tribe, he quickly finds himself torn between 2 worlds and forced to make difficult life-altering choices.
You can view a trailer of the movie here:
There are many incredible aspects to this film. For one, the film took nearly 5 years and $300 million dollars to create; a mammoth undertaking and risk in itself.
As part of the project, James Cameron invented a new "performance capture" camera that seamlessly places human actors into a computer generated world. This means that while the actors are acting, as he turns the camera, the view of the cgi world moves with him as if he were filming on location in Pandora.
In addition to that, James worked with a language specialist from U.S.C. for 4 years to create the Na'vi language. The language features about a thousand words (the first few were created by Cameron) and required active pronunciation training with the actors during filming.
Yet aside from all of that, there is something much more significant about the film:
It signifies the ushering in of a new paradigm within the mainstream western mind.
It marks the decline of the hyper-masculine, macho mentality and the emergence, or "birth", of the Divine Feminine within our modern culture.
What does this mean exactly?
Or better yet, why is it so significant?
There seems to be a crucial error within our western culture's mentality; one that is at the heart of many of our relationships, our work ethic, and our sexuality.
The error goes like this: "To gain the power of the masculine, the feminine must be denied or rejected."
It starts in adolescence when boys are taught to "suck it up" or "be a man" and reject any and all signs of pain, feeling, or emotion.
We see it in the notion that maturing means to throw away our imagination and "grow up".
We see it in excessive drinking among men as a way to be "cool", and an attitude where any type of vulnerability is met with harsh words in an effort to make one "tough" (I know because I've seen and experience them all).
We even see it in some of the feminists who reject their feminine side as they step into "the man's world", resulting in less polarity with the opposite sex.
Basically, the whole approach could be called "macho".
In a simple sense, machoism is the expression of the ego coming through the left-brain (the analytical, thinking, masculine side).
If you are familiar at all with the ego, it is that part of ourself that survived and evolved through gain (often at the cost of other's well being).
The problem with the ego's expression as machoism is that it sets up an unquenchable thirst within us; almost like a black hole that can never be filled.
No matter how much alcohol we drink, no matter how much meat we eat, no matter how many women we sleep with or how much money we make; it doesn't fill this hole.
The only reason that any of us do all these things is because we think that they will fulfill us.
Yet they don't.
And as we realize this, we may find ourselves in an inner crises; as if our entire reality is crumbling.
We may have all the symbols of success yet still feel that something is missing…
This is exactly why Avatar is so powerful.
The viewer is able to start the movie as Jake Sully, the typical macho-man tough guy who wants nothing more that to go into this next mission, blow some stuff up, and return victorious.
Yet deep down, a part of him is ready for something more…something meaningful.
Basically, he starts in the same place as many of us who are watching.
As he links up with his avatar body and begins to live a second life within the Na'vi tribe, his consciousness begins to transform.
It was as if all the tools were within him waiting to be activated.
He is able to gain the trust of the Na'vi people because he has a "strong heart" and he is able to learn their ways because he has an "empty mind".
These the same pre-requisites that lead us to rapid inner growth.
As he explores this new world, he discovers an entirely new side of himself; one that is capable of intuition, love, and devotion to a higher purpose.
He finds the gifts of the feminine.
As he begins to integrate this other side of himself, he finds he is able to synthesize both his masculine courage and intellect with his feminine love and connection to become the new inspiring leader of the Na'vi tribe.
It was not until he integrated this other side of himself, that he was able to realize his greatest potential.
All growth and healing is found by accepting and embracing those dark, rejected places within us and reclaiming our power.
He is then able to look at his past with greater awareness. He recognizes the ego's unquenchable desire for gain (represented by the overly aggressive military leader and the heartless corporate executive), and from a new vantage point, he makes new and empowering choices.
*Please note*, this does not mean that all military or all corporations are bad or wrong. There are tremendous gifts and benefits that these organizations provide to society. This movie simply shows, using examples that are common to our culture, how the ego can take over and become destructive.
The amazing part is that the viewer goes through this journey with Jake, sowing the seeds for a similar transformation within each person as they watch.
It's as if this movie is an expression of our evolution up to this time and it has come out now to activate a part of us that has long been latent and unused.
That unquenchable hunger within us is actually a part of ourself calling out for the healing energy of the heart.
The way to step into our masculine power is to integrate the feminine.
This one, unspoken truth, could be the most powerful aspect of this film.
This truth is clearly evident in the classic Taoist symbol of the Yin and Yang.
The black portion of the symbol represents yin energy (feminine) whereas the white portion represents yang energy (masculine).
If you look at the part of the symbol where Yang is greatest, you will see a black yin center. Likewise, where the yin is greatest, you will see a yang center.
This ancient wisdom shows that to be powerful, one must integrate both parts within us.
This message is especially appropriate to us in the west.
Traditionally, the masculine has been represented by "Our Father in Heaven" (God), whereas the feminine has been represented by our "Mother Earth" (Gaia).
Although the west has had strong awareness of God the Father, the role of our Mother Earth is still not fully embraced not understood.
This translates into a society that is overly concerned with masculinity and lacking in healthy feminine energy.
This is exemplified by the fact that major religious authorities have said in response to Avatar that "the earth is not a deity to be worshiped".
Perhaps some people treat nature like a deity but as I understand it, Mother Earth is not a god to be worshiped but an expression of divine creation to be honored.
It's as if the western world is afraid of the feminine, as if it's afraid of love itself.
If there is anything a really tough "macho" guy is afraid of, it's love, this is why many men stick to casual sex – they just don't have the capacity to go there, yet.
The reason is that men have a yang sexual center and a yin feeling center.
For men, the most vulnerable part of them is their heart, which is why they most often avoid it or close it off altogether. (For women, their yin side is in their sexual center and their yang side is their heart/feeling center).
Our culture is sort of like a macho guy who has walled off his heart and is now suffering because he feels cut off from his feeling center.
Many men turn to things like alcohol, porn, or one night stands with women to fill this feeling of lack. All of these are false sources of feminine-yin energy and often lead a man to become even deeper into despair.
The real answer lie in reconnecting to nature, the body, and exploring the energy of the heart.
Of course, you want to keep a balance of both masculine and feminine. Some people take this too far and reject the masculine and swing completely to the other side, which is expressed as extreme anger at corporations and technology, an obsession with "preservation", or being overly emotional or "sensitive".
We want to honor both nature and each other. (What good is saving the environment if we hurt each other doing it?)
Another aspect of the film that is so powerful is the fact that it is set on a far away planet, in the future, with an alien race.
The Na'vi tribe, with their connection to nature and simple ways, resemble the American Indians whereas the gun-toting corporate miners resemble the American Cowboy (though the Cowboy's negative aspects seem to be exaggerated in this case for dramatic effect).
Had this film been just another Cowboys and Indians, it would not have been as powerful because it would have brought with it all the preconceived ideas and positions of the viewer's past.
Yet since the film is set in the future in a distant moon with 12-foot tall blue people, we as viewers are able to watch with "empty cups", so to speak.
We don't have many of the past opinions of who's right or wrong because we haven't seen anything like it before. This allows us to watch without as much noise from ego.
Instead, we see the same human challenges played out, yet this time, we watch with new eyes.
Our vision is unhindered from all the judgement and analysis of the past. The incredibly realistic environment and 3d effects also help to captivate our awareness as well.
All of this shows how technology can help us improve our experience and accelerate our own inner growth.
Another interesting aspect of the film is that it allows the creator to direct the viewers' awareness to things that they wouldn't normally focus on in their daily life.
In Avatar, special attention is given to nature; the exotic plants and animals, the breath-taking landscapes and waterfalls, and the incredible floating rocks and neighboring planets.
We get to appreciate all the beautiful nuances of life on Pandora.
The funny thing is, as we evolve spiritually, we get to experience that same sensation and wonderment with everything that surrounds us right now.
Stepping into nature, even in our own backyard, becomes just like stepping into the world of Pandora.
By changing who we are internally, we actually begin to experience the outside world in a new way; a way that is deeply satisfying to our soul because it recognizes the spirit within every living thing.
This allows us to hold all of life (including our own) in a sacred space.
As this happens, all of nature is transformed before our very eyes. This doesn't mean that we lose our practicality with nature, it's just that we honor it because we know it's source.
That could well be one of our greatest gifts ever, and Avatar helps us to tap into that ability.
One of the things that kind of confused me when I first watch this movie was how it ended.
If these people are supposed to be tuned in to nature, if they hold all life sacred and are aware of the interconnectedness of all of life, why do they fight back?
Aren't they connected to those they fight?
What was even more extreme was that fact that the animals and the moon-planet herself appeared to fight back.
I later realized that the Na'vi people were very much feminine in their nature; they have cat-like features, were very adapt at intuitive guidance, and lived in harmony with nature.
If you know anything about female animals, you will know when they will attack; if their nest or young are threatened, of course.
So the Na'vi themselves have to evolve, just as the humans do.
The first time I watched the movie, I was really hoping that the Na'vi would find some way to transcend the fighting and evoke a change in consciousness in it's attackers.
Yet, the more I thought about this, the more I realized how it really works out for the best.
The movie meets the audience where they are.
It's been said that the first step of change is acceptance.
Our culture as a whole, especially movie go'ers, are still in the "good triumphs over evil" paradigm.
Perhaps we will discover, in future Avatar sequels, that fighting back is often just a short term solution that doesn't really change much.
The real and lasting change occurs within our own consciousness and includes and benefits everyone involved.
The irony is that sometimes we need a good fight to realize this.
In spiritual work, one discovers how the outside world is a reflection of one's inner consciousness. As we go within to "fight our battles", our enemies are transformed into allies.
The Na'vi may have been able to overpower the small corporate mining operation, but what happens if an entire army comes back to Pandora?
It is up to the Na'vi to begin to integrate their masculine side of intelligence, courage, and perseverance.
Luckily for them, they have just the leader who can help them do it.
So what about this film would make it a once-in-a generation milestone?
Is there something about Avatar that points the way to the next 10 or 20 years?
If we look back to one of the most successful and influential movie series of all time, we may find some clues.
Star Wars first came out in the late 70's and heralded in, not only a whole new level of film-making technology, it also brought us an entire world of robots, space battles, and jedi-superheroes.
If we look at our world at the time, we can see that the movie was the precursor to the technology and information age.
In the early 80's we saw the emergence of the personal computer, videogames, and other technologies that dramatically altered our culture…and Star Wars seemed to have paved the way.
I believe Avatar signifies that a similar jump in our culture's evolution is about to take place.
While Star Wars shows us how we could use our left-brain, mental-intelligence to change our world, perhaps Avatar is showing us how we can use our right-brained, feeling-intuition to change ourselves.
Star Wars came to us as we explored the power of the mind, perhaps Avatar is here to show us the power of the heart.
Star Wars came to us imbued with a deep Masculine-Father theme ("Luke….I am your father") whereas Avatar comes to us with a deep Feminine-Mother theme.
It seems to me the next area of our evolution does not lie simply in more advanced microchips, synthetic pharmaceuticals, or dynamic computer systems, but instead, in advancing our own intuition, our self-healing power, and in discovering our innermost spiritual essence.
Time will tell.
Adiemus is a group that uses a made-up language with tribal beats that I was reminded of while watching Avatar.
Robert Gass' Medicine Wheel features many native American songs that will help you tune in to the connection to Mother Earth, especially the song based on the Speech by Chief Seattle, which is profoundly powerful and moving.
There is a tremendous amount of wisdom, power, and love available to us as we step into this new world of feeling and intuition.
For us as men, our greatest gifts can be accessed through the heart.
In watching Jake's transformation into "Toruk Makto", the tribe's powerful and inspiring new leader, we see a perfect example of how this plays out.
Of course, everyone who watches Avatar will get something different.
What did you think of Avatar?
Did you have any realizations or 'ah-ha' moments?
How did it affect you?
Feel free to leave a comment below.
And of course, here are some programs that I recommend to help you on this path of healing your heart and living your deepest purpose:
- Spiritual Movie Review: “The Shift” from Ambition to Meaning by Wayne Dyer
- What is God?
- Cultivating Male Sexual Energy through Taoist “Alchemy of Man” with Sol Sebastian
- Take the 9 Minute Journey of Masculine Spirituality
- The Power of Being a “No Man”
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