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Sunday, October 25, 2015

MOVIES AND METAPHYSICS

Movies are transporting. They carry us away to faraway places, where we encounter fabulous realms and experience astounding adventures through the eyes of our most beloved characters. I've loved movies ever since, as a boy of 9, I was taken to the theater to see E.T. The Extraterrestrial. And my passion for films grew to such a fevered pitch that rare was the day I would not visit the cinema, or pop in my favorite DVD, or VHS, and enjoy at least a few scenes from some of my favorite films, like Amadeus, and The Big Lebowski, Fight Club, and Watchmen. Like such stars as Spielberg and Scorsese, Cruise and Pitt, Streep and Spacey and Sheen, I endeavored to make a career out of my cherished pastime. I wrote several screenplays. Unlike the aforementioned individuals, my efforts never met with success. Nary a script did I sell! At least I learned to take rejection in stride. Failure does your ego a favor, is my motto.

And so I moved on, first to medicine, then to the realm of metaphysics. And metaphysics, I have come to find, has much in common with movies. For metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that treats the nature of reality, and the relationship between mind and matter. The term itself was coined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who wrote a treatise on this ancient subject, which he titled Metaphusika. I have never read it. But I have read other writings by Aristotle, and other Greek philosophers, and other individuals the world over who have found themselves, just like I was as a boy, transported by the power of their cherished pursuit, which carried their minds to other realms. Only these realms are not in a galaxy far, far away. These realms lie deep within.

And as far as I can tell, the entire discipline of metaphysics boils down to one simple phrase: All is One, whose essence is Love.

So metaphysics is all about love. Just like in film, where the best movies always feature this sublime feeling, this all-consuming power of love, as a motivating force in the lives of the characters. And in every movie, great and small, blockbuster and bomb, while being entertained we also find ourselves edified. We are constantly reminded of ancient truths, if thinly disguised.

Take the film Amadeus, which treats the life and work of the prodigious composer Mozart. Early in the film, Mozart is a young man, who having composed his first symphony at 8 years old, is already a celebrated talent. He gets the opportunity to play for the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II in front of a huge audience; and yet his virtuoso piece fails to impress the amateur ears of the royal personage, who actually YAWNS during the performance. What a royal outrage! After the show, the emperor tells the irate Mozart that his symphony has too many notes. "Just cut a few, and it will be perfect." Mozart flies into a rage of course, replying, "There are neither more nor fewer than the piece requires. I cannot remove even one."



And I found myself thinking about the great symphony that is life, written and performed by the virtuoso of virtuosos, the Divine Itself. How easy it is to critique life's symphony! To fault-find and disparage. Who among us does not complain about global warming, overpopulation, rampant obesity, income inequality, all of which litter the pages of periodicals and are perennial topics in the political arena. And throughout our rants we neglect to remember that there is a higher intelligence at work in the world, much greater than any individual mind, greater than all minds put together. And that this power has the bird's eye view, can see everything, and knows that everything is in its place. Despite what you or I may think, everything is perfect just the way it is!

An analogy from my medical training. Take a person with a rash. If you examine the area, you will notice disarray, inflammation, cellular warfare. If you take that part of the body for the whole you can easily believe that the entire organism is out of whack, that "everything is going to hell in a handbasket," as armchair pundits are heard to say. But even those cells participating in the inflammatory response are a necessary part of the overall metabolic process, and perform a useful function which the individual viewing an isolated event can easily miss. Imagine if you were the bacteria, just trying to make a home, only to be attacked by an immune cell, totally unprovoked. What's unfortunate for the individual can be for the good of the whole.

Life is a grand symphony, composed by the celestial mind and performed by US. There may seem to be too many notes (too many people people), some of them discordant (Internet trolls, religious zealots), perhaps even a lot of disarray (wars, strife, natural disasters). But it all forms part of the great performance, and since we are not the Creator but only the players, and the audience, whose capabilities are sometimes amateurish at best, who are we to judge? And we're not even emperors!

But even the opinion of royalty isn't really worth all that much. Remember the story of the emperor's new clothes. He was really wearing nothing! The moral of this story is, it's best to pass naked through life, naked here being a metaphor for casting opinions aside and viewing life in the stark light of truth, and speaking and acting (and playing) from fact. 

As for facts, there is really only one that counts, thank you movies and metaphysics: All is One, whose essence is Love. Live it.

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