Movie watching as transparent communication

I’ve just come home form Curzon Renoir, an art cinema in London, where I watched Kuma. “Kuma” is a Turkish word that means “second wife”, describing the women drawn into a traditional, polygamous Muslim family at a later stage, by marriage. The acting and atmosphere were so life-like, so anti-Hollywood, that the film engrossed me from its first minutes. However, this blog is not a film review but the review of a transformative experience of movie watching as transparent communication.

men's dance at wedding in a Turkish villageThe film starts with a lively scene of customary men’s dance at the wedding in a Turkish village. We see Ayse, the beautiful 19-year bride glancing at it from the window, but under celebratory mood, we sense that there’s something wrong with this picture. As we learn later, it’s an arranged marriage. Fatma, a Turkish immigrant living with her husband, Mustafa and their 6 children in Vienna, sent her son to marry and bring Ayse to Austria to become a kuma of her husband, 60.

There’s a sequence of scenes particularly poignant that sent me into discovering “movie watching”, as a form of transparent communication. Transparent communication is a contemplation-in-action kind of transpersonal practice that I was introduced to in a retreat with Thomas Hübl. Using the word “transpersonal,” I refer to  self-transcendent aspect of my experience of a conversation, in which my sense of self may expand to encompass the perceived experience of others and eventually, the wider aspects of humankind and life itself. Watching the engaging story of Kuma unfolding in front of my eyes, I learned that such “conversation” could occur also between me and the several characters of a movie.

The sequence of scenes I mentioned starts after Mustafa’s death, when Ayse has to get a job in one of the Turkish supermarkets of Vienna, where she falls in a reciprocated love with Osman, another young employee working there. Fatma and her daughters are visiting the shop to buy groceries then they leave. It is the end of the day; the manager leaves, and Ayse and Osman close the store and stay to clean up. When they find themselves in the back of the shop, among boxes of merchandise, Osman gets overwhelmed by his feelings for Ayse and wants to make love. She is not comfortable with their surroundings for that intimate act, and also concerned about what if the women of her adopted family come back, but her desire gets stronger than her concerns. We, the viewers know that they will, because they forgot to buy something. Strange thing happens to me. I feel the hot desire of the young man, the inner conflict of Ayse, and my own compassion and caring for both of them. The worst happens; Fatma and the sisters catch on the street the store manager, who is a family friend and open the door for them. They catch Ayse and Osman in the act, Fatma grabs Ayse and drags her home, where she beats and kicks her unconscious, ready for the honor killing, but her daughters hold her back.

My heart is racing at the pace of this high-intensity drama, and I am all the players of the scene, including Fatma, whose identity rooted in the cultural values of an older world and worldview got violated, by Ayse’s act. Suddenly, I experience what Thomas told, in transparent communication, “we are able to grasp the inner worlds of other people through our compassion, and… ready to know totally new worldviews and to greet them as individual truths.” What’s new here is that I’m not in a retreat engaged in a triad communication talking with two other participants, but sitting in a cinema, opening my heart to the all protagonists of the film, and experiencing what that does to me and my deeper understanding of their world and mine.

The experience increased my capacity to stay present to people immersed in a culture very different from mine, and their conflict. It gave access also to intuitively understand both where they are coming from, and where they are heading, their higher, future potential. It’s only a small taste of what Thomas means by “transparent communication” that includes also the whole field encompassing the others and me, including all stages and lines of development, but it’s juicy enough to whet my appetite for more. Now, what’s left is to stabilize that skill in real-life situations and learn what it takes to co-create a world, in which it will be generalized and become an enabler of a new “we”, a new intersubjective space, with a higher level of collective intelligence and wisdom.

This entry was posted in Collaborative Sense-Making, Collective Wisdom, Contemplative Practice, Intersubjectivity, Ways of Tuning with Collective Consciousness and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Movie watching as transparent communication

  1. Stefan Haefliger says:

    This is a beautiful observation and experience. Your depth of empathy is moving you, a testimony to the hot medium! It reminds me of my carefulness in consuming film in general given the impact they have on my system. I tend to watch action movies on airplanes only to observe these characters intrude into my meditation for at least 72 hours after watching the scenes. There is a trade-off between the pleasure of consumption and its lingering effect. Some genres and films, particularly the less predictable type, I avoid for this reason almost entirely.
    How do you experience the after effects or shocks of the film inside of you?

    I wonder about the communication aspect in what you describe. For me, the important aspect of transparent communication is the mutual influence in reading and relating to each others emotional, physical, and mental states. Mutual means more than sequential listening but correspondence in the now, which probably I could not experience with mediated images unless they are real time. However, this may be my level of insight and deep connections may cross not only space but time as well.

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  2. George Pór says:

    Stefan, thanks for your comment, sharing your experience of the relationship between films and meditation, and your essential question about the communication aspect of what I described.
    I love art films that are cathartic, profoundly questioning and in one way or another transforming who i am, like every piece of “objective art” does. I rarely go to the movies, but when I go I carefully select the film for its depth and transformative potential. Kuma did not disappoint me.

    In this blog, I didn’t write about its after affect, yet I cannot describe the essence of its impact on me without that; so thank you. First of all, it was shocking to realize that if before the film I met with some of the its characters in real life how little commonality could i have found in myself with those at the Blue and Orange memetic altitude, thus how challenging could have been to have an authentic conversation with them. Through opening my heart to them I gained more access to the corresponding parts of myself. Hopefully, that contributes to sustainable changes in my relations with people anywhere in the first tier of the Spiral.

    I understand your concern about transparent communication implying “_mutual_ influence in reading and relating to each others emotional, physical, and mental states,” which in my story was not present, given the nature of the encounter with fictitious characters in a film. So, when I’m using the term “transparent communication” in that context, I admit that I’m using it in a somehow limited sense, which may be more precisely conveyed by the other expression I used: “transpersonal conversation.” From my perspective we can have a conversation even with a book, and certainly, with you, as I am responding to what you wrote a few hours ago.

    I also remember Thomas saying something about transparent communication being an art that we can apply everywhere, even by simply sitting in the tube with awake eyes. Yes, it’s not the same as being in a full-fledged dialogue with someone. However, as long as the world of at least one of us can be transformed by it, I feel inspired to be in permanent practice, no matter in which communication context, so that I can contribute to a world where transparent communication becomes what it is: our true nature.

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  3. Beautiful, George, thank you. You have been transformed (I’d say “upgraded” haha) by your experiences with Thomas, and then perhaps again by the film. It is always wonderful when we have new, unexpected ways of relating to the world after one of those inner quantum leaps!

    I am kinda like Stefan, I have to be careful what films I watch because I end up (not voluntarily) “processing” for all the characters, and sometimes even the film crew, for hours afterward, which somewhat incapacitates me. But that is, in a way, “astral plane merging” and is not coming from as high a dimensional vibration as the “place” you are describing coming from. (And doesn’t seem to be such an intense experience as it was a few years ago.)

    Re the “viewer vs participant” theme, I see the UL inner transformation as prior to anything that takes place between people, and as the enabling and the foundation for the interpersonal, even though, as we know, there is a synergy in Collective Emergent Intelligence situations, so there, the question of which is “prior” becomes moot.

    It feels to me as if the more EFFORT I make to “practice” anything new, the slower it will become automatic. The way I see it, we are shedding a veil of separation which was deliberately chosen at the soul level, and is maintained only by extreme effort on that level, moment to moment. So we are really just relaxing into our natural state, which requires no effort at all.

    However, also, as long as there is an inner experience of a “me” who CAN “choose” the new way of being, it seems beneficial to at least choose and INTEND, but stay in surrender mode, and ALLOW the new way, which is the more natural way, to simply emerge spontaneously in our moment to moment daily life. That’s my experience.

    Thank you again for this marvelous sharing!

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  4. George Pór says:

    > It feels to me as if the more EFFORT I make to “practice” anything new, the slower it will become automatic.

    Yes, Alia, unless it is an effortless effort, or a wu wei, which may work well, in most cases, in the quadrants of our individual consciousness and behavior. Even in those quadrants, there might be moments, when the future in need of our wise thinking, speaking and acting in the present calls for a conscious effort. The new ways may well be more natural, but as long as honor killing of all kinds (literal and metaphorical) are still practiced by those afraid of loosing their identity vested in the old ways, isn’t it our response-ability to take a stand and make a conscious choice supporting the new?

    When we take the perspective of the socio-economic, technical and other systems, the need for exercising our capacity to have our collective, emergent wisdom guide our collective action seems to be even more self-evident, unless we accept the consequences of choices made by the beneficiaries of the status quo. Hence my passionate interest in groking and fostering the synergy of awakened consciousness across all dimensions of our individual and collective existence.

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  5. Anna Betz says:

    “It feels to me as if the more EFFORT I make to “practice” anything new, the slower it will become automatic.”
    It feels to me as if the effort itself starts with separation of me from my action. Maintaining this separation, maintaining the explanation and the story seem to obstruct my experience of the essence.
    Dropping into direct experience and speaking from it sounds and feels effortless. Like Koans, once you grasp the meaning beyond words, it seems effortless but in order to get there you have to drop your conditioned behaviour and thinking.

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    • Exactly, Anna. I was pointing to that “effortless effort” state/way of being which George mentioned, and to what you so wonderfully describe.
      The speaking I did about effort was prompted by my inference of sense of effort based in a separate-self-sense, from George’s phrases such as

      Now, what’s left is to stabilize that skill in real-life situations and learn what it takes to co-create a world,
      and
      I feel inspired to be in permanent practice,

      My inference might have been incorrect, but it’s been fun to read your response, and George’s response, evoked.

      Re this which George said

      calls for a conscious effort. The new ways may well be more natural, but as long as honor killing of all kinds (literal and metaphorical) are still practiced by those afraid of loosing their identity vested in the old ways, isn’t it our response-ability to take a stand and make a conscious choice supporting the new?

      I would say that yes, as long as there is a felt sense of a “me” to make these choices “consciously,” the choices MUST be exercised, yes, that is our response-ability. In the “effortless effort” state/stage, I suggest these are not experienced as conscious choices, but as simple, natural, inevitable expressions of Being. The separate sense of self, commonly called “ego” makes conscious choices which are ultimately fear-based, just because of the identity as ‘separate.’ Effortless effort is made from the non-separate “identity” and has no base of fear, no sense of conscious choice, no sense of effort.

      I know you both know all that, I am just a “hound” for consistency in wording of these spiritual matters. Plus the fun of hearing what others say!! Lovely to be exchanging with you!

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  6. George Pór says:

    > Dropping into direct experience and speaking from it sounds and feels effortless. Like Koans, once you grasp the meaning beyond words, it seems effortless but in order to get there you have to drop your conditioned behaviour and thinking.

    That’s very true, Anna, but isn’t that dropping easier said than done, given the power of our layers of conditioning? Let’s just take the experience of movie watching, as an example. My conditioning by a consumerist culture turns it into an escapist experience of being entertained, during which I am alienated from my real life and I can forget about it. My conditioning even my heart’s capacity for empathy turns it into a sentimental experience of laughing with the laughter of my favorite character of the plot and crying with her suffering.

    In transparent communication, unless it comes naturally as Alia suggested, we need to make a choice of taking multiple perspectives; the perspective of not only another person, but all involved with the communication, including as large a field holding the situation, as we can put our arms around. Depending on our memetic altitude and ease of navigating states of consciousness, for some, that field includes the energy and perspective of all players participating in or affected by the situation. For others, it may also include its complex cultural context with and clashing value systems that are present in it, or the evolutionary impulse knocking from within the eggshell of characters.

    “Every new object, well contemplated, opens up a new organ of perception in us” (Goethe). That happens also when we choose to watch a movie from a contemplative, transparent communication space and allow ourselves to be upgraded by it.

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  7. Pingback: When transparent communication pervades all our social spaces… |

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