Thursday, September 18, 2014

Brief note on today's screening of “Rising Tide of Silence”

Thank you, fellow attendants, for a brief discussion after the movie. I want to hold on to a few reflections.

One of you remarked that the movie did not resonate with him, since it was only concerned with the general attitude of love, but not with the actual people that need loving, and what that means. It was not really a movie about people.
In some sense, I must agree, and I specifically ask myself what a project spawned from the principle of universal love must mean to people that are not capable of love (i.e., the about 6% of the population that are psychopaths). (Thank you, R., for your tongue-in-cheek pointing out that I might be among them; I hope to derive insights from your impression.)

But on the other hand, I think that love and mindfulness themselves are sufficient premises to derive all there is to know and learn for reflecting upon and building of meaningful, loving relationships to people. It might even be harmful to add too much beyond these premises, lest one constrains the space of exploration too much.
I took the movie to be an homage to such an exploration, embodied by its hero and subject, Thomas Keating. For me, it gives rise to numerous additional conversations. For instance, how tautological is the mind/world duality? If we eliminate the idea of love, too, we will reduce the amount of suffering (because we suffer for the pain of the loved ones). How desirable is this, and why or why not? And then, of course, the question of the role of religion in mindfulness. How important is the religious premise, i.e. (when we subtract the idiosyncrasies of the individual religions) the pervasive faith that the universe is somehow not impartial and cares about us, for a meaningful human existence?

I also left with a number of very personal insights, one of them concerning an acute awareness of the flaws in love (my own love) that is all-too-often tainted by desires, in contrast to love that does not want and need anything from its object, but also the distance that this erects between the desires of those that love you back in their human, imperfect ways, and the being that you have become.

A personal criticism: I disliked the overt sweetness of the movie, the constant and hypnotic advertising of its message with meditative music, pastoral landscape, serene facial expressions and enthusiastic testimony of the master's disciples. I felt manipulated. I think that the subject of the "rising tide of silence" does not need to underestimate its audience (which is going to be small anyway), and would be better served with a more silent presentation.