Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

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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: http://youtu.be/1lq3ee6gWcc
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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
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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
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

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

Rotten Tomatoes summarises critics' views thus:
Cloud Atlas
63%
The Wachowskis have never been short on ambition; they've been blowing minds (or trying to) ever since The Matrix put them on the map. Now they're back with Cloud Atlas, and critics are divided -- some say it's an awe-inspiring work of visual and emotional daring, while others say it's muddled, pretentious, and overlong. It's a series of interconnected vignettes that follows a variety of characters (played by, among others, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Jim Broadbent) across centuries, as seemingly small actions and events have monumental repercussions. The pundits agree that Cloud Atlas is a singular film, but while some are thrilled by its monumental scope and big ideas, others say it's too undisciplined and disjointed to realize its outsized aims.


More from the site: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cloud_atlas_2012/

After reading all that, I may see it if it comes my way but I won't put it on my 'must see' list.

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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 Argo.
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Re: Cloud Atlas - epic film about karma and reincarnation

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

* The Wachowskis explain how Cloud Atlas unplugs people from the Matrix *

AVC: Do you think of Cloud Atlas as being about literal reincarnation? Is it more about the commonality of human experience, or the eternal-recursion concept?
Andy Wachowski says the film is “equal parts spiritual and secular.” Lana adds: “Again, we don’t want to delimit interpretation, and we don’t want to say, ‘We are making this to mean this.’ What we find is that the most interesting art is open to a spectrum of interpretation. We love that in the book, you can have a very secular understanding of something like reincarnation. We have the José Saramago line in there, which says the nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds, which go on apportioning themselves throughout all time. This is a very secular understanding of karma. But there are also other things… my brother this week had the sweetest line ever, where he was like, ‘Of course I believe in reincarnation—look at my sister.’ We, in our own lives, reincarnate as well. We have new lives. I’m sure there are people in your life who would see this version of you, as opposed to 20 years ago, and would say, ‘Wow, you’ve changed.’”
AVC: Your films all touch on themes of fascism, oppression, and abuse of power. Is there a reason that dynamic attracts you? Is it more that these are just good traditional story seeds?
Power is something artists have been writing about since The Iliad. Okay, power is a part of the human experience. You see power dynamics trying to be understood in The Iliad, and you see them in The Master. It’s still the same excavation of power. Foucault gave us insight into power in the postmodern world, and now we understand it in a different way than Homer did, but power will be a subject in the human story, I think, as long as we’re human. [Laughs.] And so when we first read David Mitchell’s book, I thought it was an unbelievable examination of incredibly varied perspectives, and also the relationship between the responsibility we have to people we have power over, and the responsibility we have to the people who have power over us. Are we meant to just accept their conventional construct of whatever they imagine the world to be? Or are we obliged in some way to struggle against it? In the reverse, what is the obligation of the person whose life we have power over? Are they obliged to struggle against that conventional relationship? This is stuff of good stories.
There’s really complex ideas in the [Matrix] trilogy. [Laughs.] We think in some ways, it’s the most experimental, complicated trilogy ever made. And it’s frustrating to see people try to will that to not be true. But we know it’s true. And in the same way, people will try to will Cloud Atlas to be rejected. They will call it messy, or complicated, or undecided whether it’s trying to say something New Agey-profound or not. And we’re wrestling with the same things that Dickens and Hugo and David Mitchell and Herman Melville were wrestling with. We’re wrestling with those same ideas, and we’re just trying to do it in a more exciting context than conventionally you are allowed to.
http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-wach ... peo,87900/


At times, karma and reincarnation may seem like a vicious cycle that never lets us off the wheel of Samsara. Why do we continue to be reborn? What is being asked of our minds? Our consciousness? Our souls? Or whatever one may call the everpresent energy that travels with us after death. For some people, the concept of repeating lifetimes of suffering, love, pain, and circumstances seems overwhelming and/or repulsive! However, in the book turned movie Cloud Atlas, Dan Mitchell's ability to create characters that represent both the details of a life as well as the overarching impact of a life on others is exquisite and daunting! One theme that runs throughout the movie is the cause and effect of master and slave or master and servant in many variations.

On the other hand, the materialists will have a hard time understanding the message of the film:

As a biologist intrigued by Buddhism, and who is exploring the parallels and convergences between this modern and largely Western science and that ancient and largely Eastern “wisdom tradition,” I find myself increasingly convinced that Kipling was wrong: The twain have met, and for the most part, they get along swimmingly.

Nonetheless, I and many other Buddhist sympathizers part company with traditional Buddhist beliefs when it comes to the doctrine of reincarnation. As we shall see, there is a very limited respect in which reincarnation can in fact be interpreted as consistent with modern biological science, but definitely not in the conventional sense of Buddhism or Hinduism; that is, in which individuals (as opposed to their constituent molecules) are somehow reconstituted, complete with their characteristic personalities, either dragging along or buoyed by their prior actions—i.e., their “karma.” For those of us interested in reconciling Buddhism with science in general and biology in particular, reincarnation remains a troublesome outlier.

Nonetheless, a kind of bottom-line, bare-bones reincarnation does take place in the literal recycling of atoms and molecules, fundamental to the biological (and Buddhist) acknowledgment that “individuals” do not have intrinsic existence, separated and distinct from the rest of the world. But this is a far cry from the more traditional understanding of reincarnation, East and West, whereby not just atoms and molecules but some—typically unspecified—aspect of an individual is reborn into a different body, yet mystically still constituting an ineffable, nonmaterial component derived from his or her prior life (rather, lives): a soul.

It is unthinkable for traditional Buddhists, and indeed for most followers of the Abrahamic Big Three, to deny the existence of souls. But it is equally unthinkable, I assert, for any scientist to accept the existence of something that is immaterial, eternal, immeasurable, and also complexly and indelibly associated with each of us, distinct from one another. When I die, my carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and so forth will be recycled into other creatures, other components of this planet and the universe (and ditto for you) … But I cannot accept the fairy tale that I, like some sparkly Tinkerbell, will in any meaningful holistic sense be reborn, reincarnated, inserted, or in any way incorporated into a new, temporary body, and not only that, but that the outcome—the precise kind of body “I” will next inhabit—is a direct (karmic) consequence of how well or poorly I have lived my life.

“Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies,” we are told by a futuristic, grammar-challenged shaman in Mitchell’s bold, time-bending-book, “an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud an’ so is a soul.” I don’t believe this for a moment, and I bet that deep in your heart (notice, I didn’t write “your soul”!), I bet you don’t either. Nor should you. We all know that many “things” that are immaterial nonetheless exist: love, beauty, hate, suffering, fear, hope, etc. But the existence of a soul—mine, yours, that of the Buddha or Charles Darwin—is an extraordinary and altogether different assertion. As Carl Sagan emphasized, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and such evidence is wholly lacking.

“The” Buddhist attitude toward reincarnation is diverse and—I must add, at the risk of seeming unkind—muddled. Buddhism typically maintains an account of the soul’s rebirth that differs from the prevailing Hindu view, which posits a pervasive, worldwide, irreversible, and permanent atman. By contrast, the Buddhist perspective involves anatman, the explicit absence of any concrete “self.” Add to this the fact that according to Buddhist thinking, anitya (impermanence) is also universal, and the notion of a distinct and unchanging self that is transmitted from a dead or dying body into a new one is simply not tenable. Instead, the Buddha described a process analogous to a sequence in which successive candles are lit by the flame of a preceding one; as a result, the flames are causally linked, forming a continuing stream, but they are not identical.

Nonetheless, many Buddhists claim, for example, that especially enlightened practitioners can remember their “past lives,” and they quote various Buddhist texts (sutras) to buttress their position. But as far as I’m concerned, sutra-slinging warrants no more intellectual or scientific respect than does bible-beating.

On the other hand, I am rather partial to the notion that we “birth our future” by what we do, just as from a strictly evolutionary perspective, our present—the genetic makeup that (albeit temporarily) helps give rise to our “selves”—was birthed by what our ancestors did or didn’t do. Call it a kind of reincarnation if you must. I prefer to celebrate it as natural selection.

No one swims outside the gene pool. What each of us identifies as “our self” is only a temporary collection of genes drawn from a much vaster, shared genome, destined to dissolve back into that gargantuan, universal melting pot, and whose physical substance is shared with all matter, nonliving as well as living. Think of an eddy in a stream, not really existing independently, all by itself, but rather a temporary arrangement of “passing-through stuff,” given a name for the time being, and sometimes called “bison” or “oak tree”—or “person.” This is not news to the modern biologist, nor to the practicing Buddhist, two seemingly distinct perspectives that originate very differently yet coalesce remarkably in outlook and insight.

Just don’t confuse myth-making and poetry, à la Cloud Atlas, with scientific fact.

David Barash is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington. His most recent book is Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature (Oxford University Press, 2012).


http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation ... oud-atlas/
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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.

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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
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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:
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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

gavesako wrote: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


Yep, that sums up my response. I wish I had read this thread before seeing the movie, though. I would have taken notes, which is the only way to make sense out of how the different plots are interrelated.

There are two scenes in the movie, that were priceless for their comic relief value. Too bad I had to sit through the cannibalism to see them, though.
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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
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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

The story of Cloud Atlas seems to puzzle many people, the ones who think in traditional ways and cannot understand it. But more and more people are also realizing the deeper meaning in it, because it is a non-linear pattern and more like a chaotic fractal structure.

The common theme that binds these stories together soars above and beyond the comet-shaped birthmark. It’s a story about power, domination, and the ultimate quest to rule. The stories stress on the selfishness of people, and how ultimately, this will lead to the inevitable apocalypse.
Yes, the devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.

http://anothercookiecrumbles.co.uk/?p=1676


It seems that his other book, Ghostwritten, continues this same pattern (of kamma and its results) and some of the characters even appear in it:

I couldn’t get to sleep afterwards, worrying about the possible endings of the stories that had been started. Maybe that’s why I’m a ghostwriter. The endings have nothing to do with me.

You know the real drag about being a ghostwriter? You never get to write anything that beautiful. And even if you did, nobody would ever believe it was you.

We’re all ghostwriters, my friend. And it’s not just our memories. Our actions too. We all think we’re in control of our lives, but they’re really pre-ghostwritten by forces around us.


The above quotes illustrate another prominent aspect of the book: the role of fate, of chance, of the chain-reaction. The sheer randomness of the stories, and the way the characters inter-connect is pivotal to the novel, and keeps the reader completely engrossed. Of course, the other side is, by the time the reader actually starts relating to the narrator or nodding in agreement with their sentiments, a new narrator is introduced and the old narrator a thing of the past.

http://anothercookiecrumbles.co.uk/?p=2448

The music is also quite appropriate to this theme and the image of clouds too. They are unpredictable in their chaotic movements.

Ghostwritten: a Buddhist Novel?

David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten is a novel for the interconnected, globalised times in which we are buffeted among billions; it offers not so much an answer as a neural network of thought, not so much an argument as ideas whirring like minds, and interacting like electrons. Was it the first Dharma novel of the millennium? Why do things happen? That’s the big subject for novels.

Having lost the belief that we can ever really know the causes of an event, we have also lost faith in omniscient narrators. They peered down on the lives of their creations like spy satellites fixing their lenses, or they pried into their consciousness like a migrating spirit (both cues that Mitchell picks up). Contemporary novels tend to follow or be narrated by a character who participates in the story, who cannot know the context in which they were living (just as we can’t know the contexts of our lives). They cannot know their true motivations, nor the consequences of their actions that ripple out beyond their view.
Beneath character and plot lie the mysteries of subjective experience and causality. This is where Buddhism comes in. Or at least it could and should, because these are its abiding concerns. A Dharma novelist worthy of the name will know that things arise in dependence upon conditions: some of the conditions we know, some are mysterious – and both kinds are important.
Think of the universe of human consciousness as it exists right now: seven billion minds whirring away, trying to make sense, trying to cope: loving, fearing, desiring. Why are they the way they are? Let’s say it’s conditions (knowable, and mysterious). But you cannot separate the conditions that impinge on someone from the way those conditions are experienced. So imagine you could download into a consciousness, like a computer file downloading from the internet (and Mitchell plays with this, too) into any one of those six billion. You could know how it felt to be Chinese or Russian, you could switch sex, experience growing old or dying, and then switch out again. But could you both inhabit that subjectivity and at the same time step back to see the causes and the effects?
That is what David Mitchell attempts in Ghostwritten, and he is a candidate to be the first real Dharma novelist in the modern world. The book comprises 10 linked monologues, each character occupying a radically different set of values, drives and pre-occupations. It starts with a Japanese fanatic who has set off a subway sarin gas attack. Then come a Japanese teenager falling in love, a financial lawyer in Hong Kong whose shady dealings are catching up with him, a Chinese peasant, a St Petersburg criminal, a London musician and ghostwriter, a quantum physicist on the cusp of a breakthrough, a New York late-night chat show host. And there are two disembodied consciousnesses whose identities I shall not divulge.
Ghostwritten also shows a world shot through with Buddhism, from the millennial distortions of Aum Shinrikyu, to the giant Buddha in Hong Kong, a long-suffering Chinese devotee, a Gelugpa performing consciousness transference, a ‘sort-of-Buddhist Londoner’, and a computer called Arupadhatu (which is the sphere of no form, because we might as well say that is where a computer consciousness would exist).
Each has a wonderful story to tell, and Mitchell has a generous imagination. He could have devoted a novel to any of these characters, and a lesser writer would have hoarded the ideas that pour out of each page of Ghostwritten. ...

Establishing each voice is important because it articulates a worldview. Mitchell writes others’ lives like a ghostwriter. But, as one of the characters suggests, our lives are themselves a form of ghostwriting, scripted by forces beyond us, even though we claim to be their authors.
This was Mitchell’s first novel, and it reminded me of other first novels like Catch 22 or A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.It creates a form tthat is able to express a new kind of consciousness, and a new experience of the world. This is a novel for the interconnected, globalised times in which we are buffeted among billions; it offers not so much an answer as a neural network of thought, not so much an argument as ideas whirring like minds, and interacting like electrons.

http://www.wiseattention.org/blog/2012/ ... ist-novel/
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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

Viscid wrote: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.


I agree - and one can sometimes hear or read people making casual comments such as : 'It's his karma,' or '' I think we must have been related in a past life,lol ! " which are completely divorced from knowledge of any kind of Buddhist teachings and more likely to have been learned from fantasy and the supernatual novels, or video games, because they're not serious remarks.
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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.

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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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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)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
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Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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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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