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.
The 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.