Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

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KelsiJayne
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby KelsiJayne » Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:59 pm

For those interested in the book, the movie, and the Buddhist implications - including themes of reincarnation and interdependence - there is a new short documentary that discusses CLOUD ATLAS, including the insights of Buddhist author and teacher Ethan Nichtern. Please watch and tell us what you think! Do you think the book's themes are specific to Buddhist beliefs?

Here is the video:

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gavesako
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby gavesako » Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:05 pm

Some good quotes from the book showing its flavour:

“What wouldn't I give now for a never-changing map of the ever-constant ineffable? To possess, as it were, an atlas of clouds.”

“One fine day a predatory world shall consume itself.”

“... in a cycle as old as tribalism, ignorance of the Other engenders fear; fear engenders hatred; hatred engenders violence; violence engenders further violence until the only "rights", the only law, are whatever is willed by the most powerful.”

“The better organized the state, the duller its humanity.”

“Unlimited power in the hands of limited people always leads to cruelty.”

“Why fight the 'natural' (oh, weaselly word!) order of things? Why? Because of this--one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby gavesako » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:43 pm

Someone who saw the film wrote about it:

the movie is typical in that it teaches us that there is suffering, which is blatantly obvious from start to finish, but neglects the cause, the end, and the path. good guys kill bad guys and love conquers all.
it teaches us about kamma, and rebirth, but not how to break the cycle. in fact, it does the opposite. all the characters fall in love and can't wait to be reunited after death.
i do like that it showed humans being born on both earth and in other galaxies over time, that the kilesas will be cause for our destruction, and that we can become better people. i was even reminded of the Aganna Sutta, which i believe was referenced a lot.
the Mara character had a great role and so did the character overcoming him. i also enjoyed seeing the skills, and realizations, each character develops in each life continue on into future rebirths
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Kim OHara
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:02 am


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Ben
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby Ben » Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:35 am

I have to agree with you, Kim.
To be honest, I am more excited by .
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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gavesako
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby gavesako » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:51 pm

Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Kim OHara
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:17 pm

Thanks, bhante.
I still haven't seen the movie, and may not, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in it.
Similarly the fact that David Barash rejects the literal truth of reincarnation doesn't mean that he misses the message of the film which, as the interview makes clear, is not *about* reincarnation but *uses* the idea of reincarnation to link and cros-fertilise stories about social relations.

:namaste:
Kim

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gavesako
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby gavesako » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:48 pm

Some more perspectives here:

This is an extensive inside look of "Cloud Atlas" featuring interviews with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and a round-table discussion with the Directors and some behind the scenes footage.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o75FEJUXVtA
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Javi
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby Javi » Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:22 am

Hello Bhante

I have read the novel Cloud Atlas, but have not yet seen the movie. IMO the book is alright, it is an interconnected series of stories, and though they are tied together by the theme of possible reincarnation or rebirth, it is not really the main theme of the book. It is barely mentioned by name or widely discussed by any of the characters in any extensive way. We just get mentions of the birth mark and some characters' thoughts about the matter, but nothing substantial. In fact, I would say that rebirth is surely not a major theme of the novel at all, it is if anything, something which ties the various stories together (and I think it's not really that effective because the stories and characters are all very different). Again the movie might be different, I don't know, but I doubt that it will have made rebirth into anything but a tangential feature of the movie. Other than that, I don't really see anything in the movie that really makes it 'Buddhist', sure it is an exposition of violence and suffering, but many movies are about violence and suffering.

Looks like a fun movie though. :alien:
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby alan » Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:31 am

Loved the book. I've read all his works.
Don't see anything about Kamma and reincarnation in Cloud Atlas, though.

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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby Monkey Mind » Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:44 am

"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710

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gavesako
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby gavesako » Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:54 am

"The 'world' is not made out of facts, it is made of stories"

I found Ven. Thanissaro's talks touching on this same theme and very relevant to it:

Going back into the past and trying to dismantle the stories about us and other people, we need to get beyond those narratives that we make up for ourselves. Otherwise we will be just going pointlessly back and forth, following some agendas that lead to suffering. Use the breath to bring attention to the present. There is no need to try to tie all the loose ends, because this is an endless project and we can leave the thoughts unfinished and untied. We can dissolve the old narratives and stop feeding on them, when we see them in a larger context.

Dissolving Narratives
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWDNcgs5dBI

:reading:
Life is like an endless poem with an episode after episode after episode... relationships between beings affected by love and hate go on and on, life after life. Like fish struggling with each other in a small pool of water.

The Arrow In The Heart
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScjiWH4ubQU
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby gavesako » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:25 am

from Reading Emptiness: Reflecting on Buddhism and Literature

...Such perceptions resonate with the ideas explored by many literary critics of the last half-century in debunking conventional ideas about substance, meaning and reality. A novel or a play creates an artificial world, they realise, and establishes a sense of value and meaning. But that reality is an illusion and the values and meanings are constructions. Critics like Jacques Derrida and Paul de Man, saw their job as revealing the illusion and deconstructing the thought-world of a text. For others, this insight also illustrates a broader pattern in how we make sense of the world beyond the text, for example in the ways of thinking that validate social structures and gender roles.
What should Buddhists make of these developments? Buddhism, itself, has a tradition of deconstructing what it calls ‘wrong views’, regarding most philosophies and belief systems as unrecognised expressions of underlying mental states. That suggests a tantalising affinity between Buddhism and these sophisticated intellectual approaches; but for Jeff Humphries, a literary theorist who practices Zen, there is a fundamental difference. The limitation of critical theory, in his view, is that while meanings are deconstructed, these academic readers do not examine or deconstruct themselves.
In answer to deconstruction’s query, ‘does a text exist?’ Humphries poses the Buddhist question, ‘Does the reader exist?’
While Buddhism shares analytical approaches with deconstruction, it escapes the nihilism of critical theory because liberation comes in the realisation that this self, like the objective world it observes, is dynamic, shifting and ungraspable. What’s more, Humphries finds an ally in literature itself with its aims of teasing us out of thought and holding up a mirror. Indeed, *Reading Emptiness* is fired by the belief that ‘the closest thing we have to the Middle Way in the West is the practice of literature – both reading and writing.’ Reading and writing, he suggests, can be spiritual practices when literature is regarded through a Buddhist perspective.
This perspective grows from considering the element in literature that defies exposition. For Humphries, a text is not an inanimate object, but the product of a mind, so that in reading one mind encounters another and sees its own representation. Both consciousness and literature are mysterious, and there is nowhere ‘objective’ from which to analyse. The encounter of reader and a text is a paradigm of the meeting of self and world, and also an encounter with the mind’s representations.

http://www.wiseattention.org/blog/2012/ ... iterature/
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby gavesako » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:51 pm

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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby Viscid » Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:54 pm

The movie really isn't all that deep and complex. The idea that someone who is close to you was part of a past life is common among people, and so is the fact that all events form a complicated, intricate web of consequence. I don't really think it's important for people to romanticize these ideas any further than they already do. Also, movies like this do not make people take the idea of reincarnation/rebirth any more seriously-- they will just be more likely to associate it with fantasy fiction.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby Aloka » Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:48 pm


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gavesako
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby gavesako » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:04 pm

I would see this kind of book and film as helpful in creating a Western "popular Buddhism" which is easy to understand and appeals to people without an intellectual background. This would be equivalent to the Asian "popular Buddhism" which is the most widely form of Buddhist belief and practice that supports the daily life of the Sasana and maintains what we could call a "Buddhist culture" in which people share a similar outlook on life. I would also see it as counter-balancing the tendency to embrace "Buddhist scientism" as the de-facto metaphysical theory of many Western Buddhists. Of course, the popular understanding of kamma and rebirth will tend towards a kind of fatalism and eternalism (which is inevitable for anyone who has not developed deeper insight), but I think this is preferable to the nihilistic tendency of "one-life-only" materialists. Historically such a story could be compared to the epic Jataka tales which have largely shaped the Asian popular understanding of Buddhist social values and core ethical teachings showing the workings of kamma over a large time-scale, stretching into cosmic proportions. This would counter-balance the post-modern fragmented individualism with its corresponding crisis in the social sphere.

:group:
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby alan » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:34 am

It's just a book. A good one, no doubt, but it is entertainment, and nothing else.

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gavesako
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby gavesako » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:26 am

It is interesting to read some of the reactions from people like this:


“CLOUD ATLAS” WAXES ON MULTIPLICITY; REINCARNATION; TWIN-FLAMES; CAUSALITY.

Central to “Cloud Atlas” is the notion of reincarnation and karmic return. That is, the idea that each character creates realities based on their respective thoughts, actions, and beliefs, no matter how seemingly “small” or “large”. For instance, when Jim Sturgess incarnates into a slavery-era notary (Adam Ewing) and suddenly has an awakening whereby he terminates his career and vows to work for the abolitionist movement, his slavery-wielding father in-law (Hugo Weaving) angrily scolds Ewing, exclaiming, “No matter what good you think you’re doing, it’s still but a single drop in an ocean.” Ewing responds, “What is an ocean, but a multitude of drops?” This telling exchange characterizes a provocative idea introduced by Cloud Atlas: the idea that our present incarnations, actions, thoughts, and beliefs are not randomized and without consequence, but laden with causality and ripple effects – even if we are yet to understand the full extent of such effects. (.....)

http://www.resistance2010.com/profiles/ ... e=activity


“Our lives are not our own, we are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

I'm sure there are many ways to interpret this film but I walked away from it with this understanding. It is a story about us, the human race, from every age and background, from every race and gender, future and past scenario, present incarnation, all possibilities that we are capable of.

It tells a tale of the universal life force, the energy of All That Is. The story of humanity that we have been telling and retelling since we first were capable of sharing with each other. It is too simple to say it is a story of good vs evil, or even positive vs negative, I personally do not like to use those terms. It is a story about duality, the dark and the light, the high and the low. For eons, some humans have been compelled to turn to the dark, to attack their brothers and sisters, to attack the earth itself, for various reasons that range from greed, corruption, fear and hate. And for eons, that low energy has created in turn, a higher one, one that responds to it by living and speaking truth, justice, empathy and love. Every event sets forth a reaction of related events. Dark compels Light to shine. Light compels Dark to follow. The Ying and Yang, the wheel of Dharma continually spinning. As the energy builds on one hand of the scale, it creates inequality, so to restore balance, energy is built on the other, creating equality again, and so on and so on and so on....

Cloud Atlas takes this theory of the universe with no judgement, this is neither good nor bad, it just is. We each have our own part to play, this is the consciousness of the universe. The most important part I took away from this film is that there is no winner and no loser, there is just energy, dharma spinning over and over again. For those who are moved to action, we must speak our truth, we must act, we must live our lives according to our practice. This act alone is all that is required. Not to win, not to make everyone or everything believe what we believe, but just to act from our hearts and not worry about the result. The result is of no importance to us, the act alone is all that matters.

The act of love, of truth, inspires more love and truth, which inspires more and then more, until the balance again needs to be restored. The same is true of the opposite. If we live in total darkness, we are blind and cannot see but the same can be said if we live in total light. In both scenarios, we are blind. We need a balance of the two, a complete union, to be able to act in a mindful compassionate way.

Where the Matrix showed us how our world is an illusion, Cloud Atlas shows us the truths behind the illusion. It is a great feat of storytelling, one that on the surface seems beautifully complex but is actually quite simple. The purpose of living out the expressions of love and truth is to not defeat hate and lies but just to simply live love and truth. No expectation on outcome, on winning, of proving points. Love for love's sake and knowing that the act alone makes all the difference in the world and the universe.

http://thirdeyecyclops.blogspot.co.uk/2 ... atlas.html


“The Pythagorean doctrine prevails among the Gauls’ teaching that the souls of men are immortal, and that after a fixed number of years they will enter into another body.”

The most compelling aspect to the movie for me was seeing what I am now calling, “the long development of the soul”. Watching each character during the course of the movie wearing different clothes and faces, yet all with some essential element that is “them”. You get to see the choices each one of them makes and the repercussions of each choice. As each of the characters moves through each incarnation you see the tendencies of the choices they made in previous lives show in the current one. In some characters like Adam Ewing (played by Jim Sturgess) these choices lead to greater virtue and liberation, in others like Lloyd Hooks (played by Hugh Grant) they end in selfish savagery.

What fascinates me about this portrayal is that is “feels” right. Watching this movie was like some part of myself recognizing that choices I had made in past lives were still with me, shaping my tendencies and perceptions. Every life gives us opportunities to radically alter our course and discover our uniqueness; our gift. This movie tied in well with my work on the Book of the Weaver in that I could see the bindings present in all the characters and how some made choices that overcame them.

My favorite character was Zachary, played by Tom Hanks. I could relate to the fear and doubt that plagued Zachary through his incarnations. Evil, in my opinion, does not exist out there. Evil is a story we tell ourselves, a story that twists our actions and makes us act out of fear. I think we have all been there; the gods know I have. But what I loved about Zachary was how his love for the people in his life shaped him and made him more and more true to himself. All the while dealing with his own demons (externalized as Old Georgie, brilliantly played by Hugo Weaving), past tendencies, and fears. Like in all great stories it is love that saves this character and propels him to new worlds.

http://coloradocelt.wordpress.com/2012/ ... oud-atlas/
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
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JeffR
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

Postby JeffR » Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:17 am

I just did a search for the book/movie at my local county library: 45 copies of the book and there is a waiting list of 431 requests. Clearly in demand. They don't have the movie.


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