Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | January 17, 2010

Generating Paradise on Earth

Last week I went to see James Cameron’s new film, Avatar.  I loved it.  It’s a magical film about beings from another planet, Pandora.  On the surface it’s about their struggle to fight off an invading force of money hungry Americans who want to mine on their planet to extract a mineral that has enormous worth to those on Earth.  On deeper levels it is about respecting and/or riding rough-shod over the uniqueness of others, learning how to live in a different way, being in harmony with ones surroundings, and ultimately about love. Not just the love of one for another, but love of and for Life in all her forms.  Pandora is first portrayed to us, through the eyes of the occupying forces, as an inhospitable planet, with an atmosphere that is toxic and inhabitants who are fierce, aggressive, warring.  It is only as we are led into relationship with the beings and their surroundings that our perception of them and their environment morphs from hostility to one of appreciation for the way they live, and their fight to preserve a beautiful and harmonious way of life, a paradise, from uninvited intruders.

While still basking in the afterglow of the feelings that the movie elicited in me, I read a free paper on the subway, and noticed a snippit of information that surprised me.  Apparently, there are now post-Avatar support groups for people who come out so deeply and positively moved by this film that they become depressed in their own lives. Their perception, this news item told me, was that there is no paradise on earth, and that there are people out there mourning the lack of it, needing a community to share their feelings with, and yearning for a different life from that which they experience.  It feels to me that a deep and primal sense of longing has been ignited on a grand scale.

It is true that a lush, vibrant paradise like Cameron describes in Avatar is lost to the majority of us who live in concrete jungles and sprawling suburbs, and it is also true that most of us have lost our connection with the sacred qualities of life which James Cameron illustrates so beautifully in his film, but I don’t believe that our paradise is completely lost.  It is here on Earth, but like the magical beings of Pandora, it is up to us to nurture it from within, as well as to cherish its external form.  Many of those living in these special places today have to fight hard to keep their lands and ways of life, in order to preserve it.  And there are more stories out there of paradise lost than paradise saved.  For those of you who have seen the movie, did you notice as I did the reflections in this story of the fight of the people of the Amazon against the oil companies who have burnt down their forests and ridden them off the land, with violence if needs be, destroying their sacred places, their homes, and their way of life.  And did you notice the similarity between this story of a civilization under threat and that of stories of peoples whose ways are foreign to an invading force and so, having seen that their self-serving perspective can’t be understood and that negotiation is impossible, the stronger force similarly and simply annihilates those that stand in their way … like, perhaps, the movement and actions of the settlers who moved into the Native American lands in the United States; or those who settled in parts of Africa or Australia or Asia, killing, displacing or disempowering the rightful inhabitants they found there. This physical and cultural genocide is still happening today in a number of countries, perhaps most notably Tibet.  In all these instances those already there held a unique and harmonious place within their environment because of their deep relationship and resonance with the land that they lived on, the plant and animal beings that lived alongside them, and with a greater ‘power’ or ‘powers’ to which they spoke.   In every instance, this harmony between Man, Land and Spirit constitutes the building blocks of paradise.

Paradise need not be lost even for those of us who are living away from the natural rhythm of life because paradise can also be found within, and once embraced radiated out to affect those around us.  We are living in times of enormous change – moment to moment change, sometimes most visible in the huge advances to the structures that support our civilizations, like the internet, but also simultaneously happening in each one of us.  One person taking a single step can start that change.  In metaphysical terms, you just have to raise your vibration and resonate to a different tone, or tune.

As individuals, we all have opportunities to bring about change.  The power is not just with the corporate giants and the geniuses, and it is good to remember that each one of us can make a difference.  The building blocks of our evolution, whether individual or communal, spring up from the seeds of our consciousness.  This film may have planted those seeds in the minds of many.  I hope so.  Paradise on earth might look impossible if you are fighting to survive in a hostile environment, but an awareness of everything around you, and a slight shift in the perspective that you hold in relationship to it, might change that perception from one of hostility to one of harmony.   

I was reminded yesterday how simply but profoundly the smallest of internal movements of perspective can alter how I relate to life.  I became upset when talking to a friend because I didn’t feel heard.  I went into a defensive response in which I cut off my feelings did an internal ‘Why even bother!’ and stopped listening.  But then, Wow!  I noticed that!  I realized that in that split second I had moved out of relationship.  I couldn’t feel myself, let alone how my friend was receiving my reaction.  I couldn’t even tell if she’d noticed!   I had cut off.  I want to be in the flow of life, and that means that it isn’t ‘my way or the highway’, it’s a dance from the heart, because for each one of us the heart is the gateway to paradise.  

I have made a New Year’s intention to try and stay in relationship to whatever is arising from whatever situation I am in, and if those feelings are not heart-centered, then I am committed to trying to move back to a place of centeredness and open-heartedness.  That doesn’t mean that I have to agree, just that I continue to be able to feel the perspective of the person I am with, and respond according to how we are both doing.  I am doing this so that I can live more fully and deeply from my heart all the time, so that my experience of life is one where I reside in a place of harmony with those around me, whether human or plant or animal, and in harmony with All that Is, the great Mystery that is moving through us all.  I am becoming aware that in order to do this I have to slow down my speech and my action, listen both internally and externally, and call myself back when I skip out.  As I do this, the tone of my voice softens. This is the outward sign of the change in my vibration to that which reflects the beauty of the heart. 

I am just one, and if the only difference I make is to my own experience, Great!  I will have moved to a different place of being and responding, a place where paradise is available to me moment to moment.  But my hope is that by living in harmony I will also help to catalyze those around me, and then we have a paradise movement going on, and our collective experiences can be transformed. 

Thank you, Mr. Cameron.   I hope that these golden seeds that you have gifted to us all through this movie will open and grow, and that they will help to bring us collectively to a different vibration from that of separation from the things that surround us, into a place of harmony and appreciation for each other and the world that we live in.

©2010 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved.

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