When we walk into a movie theatre we have made a conscious decision to attend a particular show. Perhaps we read a review or watched the trailer. We then chose to go on a certain day at a specific time. All of this was conscious and planned.
However, a subconscious decision also was made as we walked into that same theatre. We agreed, prior to the start of the movie, to forget we are sitting in the show. Our intention is to “get lost” in the movie. If we were constantly reminding ourselves that, “this is just a movie,” we could never experience the film. Our purpose is to forget our everyday life for a few hours.
This subconscious amnesia allows us to experience the movie as “real.” Everything we see on the screen appears real, even the special effects. The emotions that we feel—excitement, joy, sadness, terror—are experienced as genuine, too, even though everything we see and hear is staged and professionally executed. Even the main characters in the movie are skilled actors and actresses being paid a fee for this performance. Since everything in the movie is staged, acted, edited and fictional, nothing is truly “real.” However, because of our subconscious amnesia the movie is perceived as “real.” This is the trick of our subconscious mind.
What if the decision that we make as we enter a movie theatre is the same decision that we make prior to this lifetime? While in the theatre we actually forget we are sitting there. While in a human body we actually forget who we really are. In the theatre everything we see and hear on the screen appears to be real. We see depth on the screen, yet how deep is the image being projected? If we stand in front of a mirror, there also appears to be depth, but the image being reflected by the mirror only has the depth of a shadow.
Our eyes appear to “see” depth, yet the Spiritual Masters tell us there is neither space nor time.
The emotions that we experience in the theatre are also real—our heartrate may increase, we may cry, get angry or laugh heartily. These same emotions are experienced in our body during our everyday lives. Therefore, the emotions and thoughts that we experience while watching a movie are the same as those that we experience in life. There is a misconception here because the movie is perceived as “a movie” while the human experience is perceived as “real”—as if there is a difference. What if both experiences are movies, and when we are at the theatre we are watching a movie within a movie?
The concept of reincarnation involves more than having many lifetimes. It also involves choosing our gender, our family, our culture and our astrological sign. We get to choose the script, the cast and the plot. We are both the lead character and the movie’s director. We can choose to experience a melodrama, an adventure, a tragedy or even a comedy.
While watching the movie, our mind does not realize it is watching a movie, and the body reacts accordingly. For that short period of a few hours, the mind does not know the difference between a movie and the human experience. What if, for the short period of a few years, the mind is also tricked into believing that the human experience is not a movie but is “real?” Our senses certainly make our human experience seem “real,” yet these same senses are fooled all the time. Can we really believe what we hear? Do we all see the same world? The human body feels solid, yet quantum physicists tell us we are mostly space.
Our spiritual amnesia has a purpose. Could we truly grow and evolve if we remembered every minute of our lives that we are a spiritual being having a human experience? Our growth would be stunted by such memory. Our experience here is perfectly orchestrated so that learning opportunities are optimized. Our human senses were designed to cooperate with the production of our life’s movie. The illusions of space and time were interwoven into this plan. We have already discussed how “depth” is presented as real on a movie screen.
Time also appears to be real. We use time daily as an instrument to schedule our lives. Yet in reality there is only the “now.” When we attended high school, it was not in the past, it was in the now at that time. Likewise, tomorrow does not exist because when it comes it will be now. If time is real, where is yesterday? Can we go back to yesterday today? Ironically, a movie gives us an opportunity that life does not—we can rewind the movie and watch again. With life, we can review an experience only in the memory of our mind—a mind that we have seen can be fooled by our senses.
While we sit in the movie theatre watching the movie, an “aspect” of ourselves is watching us watch the movie. This aspect is our soul, spirit, or Higher Self. This spiritual aspect was with us when we previewed this lifetime and will be with us again at our life’s review. The life preview and review are like watching a movie. However, at the time of these viewings, there is an important difference—the mind is not restricted by the human body or its senses. The result is expanded awareness and a level of consciousness that views the human experience from a much wider perspective. There is also the realization that we are “watching” a movie that was designed to appear real.
A famous Zen koan is told of a monk, who upon enlightenment, had only a good laugh! He remembered, at that moment of awakening, that life is a movie, nothing “real” is happening here, so we might as well laugh at being fooled into believing otherwise.
Steve Priester is a native Minnesotan who moved to Florida after retirement. His spiritual journey has wound its way through A Course In Miracles, Zen, and mediumship. He teaches The Spiritual Path and speaks to metaphysical groups on various topics. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.