Many people have felt the need to weigh in on Avatar. Given that, I suppose it’s predictable that there has been no shortage of individuals and groups that have chosen to carp about it.
Whiners from the Vatican to anti-smoking organizations have found something to take exception to in the movie, chiefly because it’s the top-grossing film in the history of the world. After all, who protests against an indie film that makes $70,000 and plays in 20 theaters? Nobody. That we hear of, anyway.
That said, I thought I’d weigh in on Avatar. 🙂 Amongst the rest of the Avatar-kerfuffle, this approach will, I hope, be from a unique and rather more encouraging perspective: how the story relates to the Law of Attraction.
The Law of Attraction (LOA) has been getting a lot of air-play of late, due mostly to the film and book The Secret. Lots of folks have jumped on that bandwagon — everyone from product packagers to Baptist preachers. What is not so well-known is that the modern incarnation of the idea of the Law of Attraction (it’s been around for centuries in one form or another) is primarily due to Esther and Jerry Hicks, who have been offering the teachings of Abraham regarding the LOA since the mid-1980s and who were the inspiration for the The Secret.
The Abraham-Hicks perspective on the LOA, as described in books such as Ask and It is Given, informs my take on how it relates to the story presented in Avatar.
In a nutshell, the LOA states: That which is like unto itself, is drawn. The corollary is that you get what you think about, whether you want it or not. Why? Because thoughts vibrate. Fundamentally, they are energetic processes. The Law of Attraction causes a given thought to attract similar thoughts (similar energies). Consistent thought on a topic forms an energy matrix, which affects the energy (or vibration) with which everything is made. Eventually, given enough time and focus, the energy manifests as matter, as circumstances, as experiences perceivable to the five senses. Desire focuses thought. The desire is first satisfied on an energy or spiritual level and, in the absence of resistant competing thoughts on the part of the desirer, is eventually manifested on the material level. Every desire, without exception, is for something that the person thinks will make him/her feel better. If you come into harmony with the energy that answers a desire (and “coming into harmony” can include taking appropriate action), the physical answer or fulfillment of the desire occurs.
Warning: there are spoilers of the movie coming up. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know what happens, stop reading here. This is written mostly for those who have seen it.
Avatar is first of all a beautiful film. It vividly portrays an intriguing alien environment and culture. It also offers a dramatic, multi-layered story. People couldn’t have found so many things to get up in arms about if there weren’t enough elements and topics in the film to spark responses and considerations. The movie succeeds very well as entertainment and weaves enough ideas into its structure to make it worth pondering. It’s fun to watch, captivating, stimulating, and artistically rendered.
What Jake Wants
The plot’s focal point is Jake Sully, a former marine whose legs are paralyzed. His twin brother was hired to help a scientific and diplomatic mission on the moon Pandora that is attempting to persuade the indigenous people (known as the Na’vi) to move away from an area that a corporation from earth wants to mine for a valuable mineral called unobtainium. The humans have created “avatars” — bodies that combine human and Na’vi DNA — that can be remotely controlled by human “drivers” and which are used to interface with the natives. Jake’s brother is killed, but since Jake is his twin, he is compatible with his brother’s avatar. So Jake is hired to go to Pandora to become part of the Na’vi avatar team.
Jake’s main desire, as presented early in the film, is to regain full mobility, to escape the confines of his wheelchair. We know that he has had that desire for awhile. So that is what his thoughts have been focused on, that is how he has been vibrating. And as he has maintained that desire, the universe has begun putting together the cooperative components that will allow it to be fulfilled. One of the cooperative components is obviously his brother, who apparently was at a point where he could acquiesce to leaving his physical body. Without that, Jake would never go to Pandora and would never receive an avatar.
Jake’s other desire is to transform himself from being a man of war to a man of peace. He has had enough of fighting, of destruction and disconnection. This is touched on only briefly in the film, but this is also present in his desire-matrix, and the universe is answering that request, too. All desires that we hold percolate together to form a kind of energetic matrix, or vortex (see The Vortex, by Esther and Jerry Hicks) that will be satisfied materially if we are able to predominantly give attention to the good-feeling aspects of what we want and what we observe in our life.
Jake arrives on Pandora and is plugged into his avatar for the first time. He “wakes up” in a new body that is strong, agile, healthy and, best of all, has functioning legs. The scene where he takes his first “test drive” of the avatar shows him as giddy and rambunctious as a kid, crashing around the lab, heading outside to run for the sheer joy of running. He stops and digs his feet into the rich soil, and you know he is reveling in his renewed physical perception and prowess.
Even though inhabiting the avatar body is not permanent, he has still gone a long way toward fulfilling his desire to have full use of his body. Yet it is not fully realized. He is offered a deal by the head of corporate security, Colonel Quaritch: if Jake infiltrates the Na’vi culture and learns their motivations and weaknesses, the Colonel will see to it that the corporation pays for a procedure for Jake to regain use of his legs. It seems that the path to complete fulfillment of his dream has come to pass. But has it? Getting the use of his legs back is only part of the mix of desires Jake holds. The second important element — to become a man of peace, to enjoy a satisfying and life-affirming existence — is more complex in its realization and turns out not to be compatible with the path Quaritch has offered. Not to worry, though — the universe is still enacting opportunities on his behalf. To take advantage of an even better manifestation, he must establish a relationship with the Na’vi.
When he first encounters Neytiri, the Na’vi woman with whom he will form his most important relationship, she sees him first as an enemy and then as a wayward child (oftentimes the people who are most important to us irritate us when we first meet them). In many respects, in his Na’vi incarnation, Jake is a child — but a child with a pure and fearless heart, as are all children when they first start out. When things become dangerous, he focuses on the outcome he wants to have happen, not on the fear of what he does not want to happen — a 180-degree difference in focusing that makes all the difference. Neytiri recognizes Jake’s inner qualities and, compounded by a helpful sign from her spiritual Source (Eywa), she does not kill him, instead helps him fight off a pack of dangerous carnivores, and takes him back to introduce him to her people.
Each step of the way, Jake does what he can to succeed in his new circumstances, but he doesn’t get in his own way when he doesn’t know how to act. He watches, learns, practices, and enjoys the challenges, discoveries, and exhilaration of his new endeavors, much like a child.
There is an important line that is spoken by Moat, the spiritual leader of the clan, when it is decided that Neytiri will teach Jake the ways of the Na’vi: “…we will see if your insanity can be cured.” The insanity she refers to encompasses a wide meaning, but in a nutshell, it is a diagnosis of the ways in which Jake is disconnected from the goodness of life, his lack of awareness of his place in the larger scheme of things, the way his attitudes hinder his perception of well-being, and cause him to not fully perceive his relationship with the Source from which he — and everything else — comes.
In order to become a man of peace, he must rearrange his mental and percepetual habits (aka beliefs).
You may wonder how the final battle that Jake eventually leads against his former employers fits in with this LOA analysis. This is an element that is kind of an anomaly. If this were something besides a drama, Jake and the Na’vi probably wouldn’t have to fight. But few strictly “Step 3” movies are being made these days… To understand that, you must be aware of the three steps of manifestation as described by Abraham:
- Step 1: You ask for something, whether it is consciously stated or unconsciously projected.
- Step 2: The universe or Source or God or however you like to call it answers the desire and fulfills it (as Jesus said: “Knock and the door will be opened unto you”).
- Step 3: You allow the manifestation of the satisfied desire.
“Step 1” experiences involve the perception of the contrast between something that you prefer and something that you do not prefer. When you perceive something that you do not want, you automatically know what you do want and a desire for that is launched. If you are told you have cancer, you want to be well. If you are rejected by a girl to whom you’re attracted, you want to be liked by a girl to whom you’re attracted. Most movies made nowadays involve a lot of Step 1 experiences and few Step 3 occurrences, which is the fulfillment of the desire. To get to Step 3, most movie protagonists have to jump through a lot of hoops, travel to hell and back, before they are “allowed” to have what they want. They must somehow “prove” they are “special” before they are rewarded. Such “proof” usually involves a lot of difficult action. That’s just what most audiences seem to find entertaining. But in real life it doesn’t have to be that way. Life was not intended to be a struggle.
Science fiction movies generally require some sort of dynamic conflict (Step 1), however, and James Cameron has acknowledged in interviews that the battle between the humans and the Na’vi is kind of the icing on the cake that helps make the entirety of the movie attractive to an audience that includes action fans. And speaking of “action” (one of the conundrums that people argue over regarding the LOA)…
Jake is not steeped in the Na’vian attitudes of what he can and cannot do. (As groundbreaking cognitive psychologist Ellen Langer states: “We’re often better off not knowing the rules.”) He has already shown himself willing to try just about anything (he has the classic marine gung ho attitude), and so he conceives the idea to ride the toruk or “last shadow.” His attempt succeeds and he becomes Toruk Makto. This is an example of an inspired action. He does not stew about it but just goes for it. How many of us do that? You probably have ideas of actions that get you excited, that get your juices flowing — how often do you act on them? On the other hand, how often do you let fear or a feeling of pessimism dissuade you from acting on what may seem like an “outlandish” idea? Jake was not a pessimist. Inspired action is an integral part of the LOA.
By the conclusion of the film, all of Jake’s initial desires are fulfilled. He is permanently established in a robust Na’vi body. He is part of a supportive community. He has a loving relationship. And his eyes have been opened to new wonders, including a vivid connection to both the material and spiritual worlds (which, in the final analysis, are the same).
The Na’vi’s Part
And what about the Na’vi’s part in this? How was the LOA working with regard to them? What we come to realize is that, while we are perceivers and creators of our own reality, we are creators surrounded by other creators, for every organism and biological entity is sending forth desires for the expansion of well-being and joy. In other words, we are co-creators. And so the Na’vi are called into Jake Sully’s experience in order to help him satisfy his desires and Jake is called into the Na’vi’s experience in order to help them satisfy theirs. What do they want? We find that out early in the film. As Jake arrives on Pandora and makes his way to the corporate facility, a huge earth-moving machine passes by that has Na’vi arrows embedded in its tires. Obviously, the Na’vi want the disruptive “skypeople” to go away. Without Jake, who has valuable information and strategy regarding how the Na’vi can fight the security/military apparatus of the corporation (which is equivalent to Blackwater) with their less technologically-advanced weapons, the Na’vi wouldn’t have had much of a chance against the gunships, high-explosives, and mechanized walkers. A number of commentators on the film have complained about how Jake is the “white savior” that comes in to save the “backward natives.” What they miss is that Jake is saved by the Na’vi as much as he helps them save their way of life. They help each other get what they want. They are co-creators. Neither is superior to the other. All cooperative relationships are assembled by the LOA and implemented through equally-important beings.
Resistance, Connection, and Expansion
How did the LOA affect the corporate managers and military guys? After all, they had things they wanted, too, but they didn’t get them. I’d suggest it’s primarily because they were disconnected from the full sense of well-being and non-resistance that would have allowed them to get what they wanted. Look at the faces of the corporate guys in the control room after they blow up Home Tree. These are sad, self-condemning people. The Colonel is disconnected as well (a badass fighter, yes, but he is fighting against what he doesn’t want as contrasted with what he does want, and so, his focus being what it is, life brings him more of what he doesn’t want). But they are co-creators in the overall game as well, and they will have other opportunities to realize their desires (some will have to come back in new bodies to do so).
It’s not surprising that you can easily find this arc concerning the LOA embedded in this film. After all, James Cameron is an exceedingly successful and creative director. He knows a thing or two about the LOA, whether consciously or instinctively. He has been able to create what he wants many times. He obviously has tremendous enthusiasm for the creative process, which is the basis for why we bother to inhabit this physical environment in the first place. He loves to make movies, relishes the exploration of new ideas, and appreciates experiencing and sharing the upliftment of expanded consciousness. Any great artist helps us to make those connections.
In the final anlysis, the pleasures of Avatar are found in connection and expansion. The bodily connections that the Na’vi are able to make to other Pandoran life-forms with their queue (braids) can be seen as symbolic of the connection that we can make between the essence in ourselves and the essence in other beings, as well as the essence of our physical self and the Essence of our universal, spiritual Self.
This is also the significance of the Na’vi statement, “I see you.” When spoken between Jake and Neytiri near the end of the film, as she holds his human body, it’s emblematic of seeing the spiritual essence of each other. We can all see the good in each other, something good, anyway, if we just look for it. “I see you” does not mean “I see your flaws,” it means, “I see You, the best You, and your value.” Similar to “Namaste.”
With regard to continued expansion, seeing the movie Avatar once or multiple times has become for many people a Step 1 experience — that is, they feel a desire to be connected to life-enhancing vital energy in the same way the Na’vi are, or they wish they could live on Pandora. What they are really longing for is an awareness of the connection between their human consciousness and their vast spiritual consciousness, to become aware of the ongoing unification of those two aspects of themselves, to be aware of the well-being that is always flowing to them, of the joy that is their birthright (just as Jake Sully’s re-birth as a Na’vi renewed his sense of joy). This is possible, of course. If it was not possible, such a desire could not be conceived of. Connection of the type portrayed in Avatar is possible here and now — in fact, it can only occur now, since that is the only moment we ever have. Those who want to experience that must become appreciative of themselves, appreciative of what is around them, of the interesting beings they come in contact with, of the air they breathe, of the beautiful clouds in the sky, of the delicious food they eat, the communication they have with loved ones, the inner movement of their own harmonious perceptions, the rising of the sun, the marvelous workings of their own body. By focusing on such things, focusing on things that make them feel good, they will leave behind resistant thoughts, thoughts of lack, thoughts of separation, and they will find that they have been connected all along.
The only thing that ever diminishes such an awareness is our own thoughts. Direct your thoughts and you control your experience. Experience, after all, is just interpreted vibration, whether that vibration is coming from the “real world” or from a movie screen. How do you think James Cameron and his collaborators created the Na’vi? Ponder that. This is a thought-based universe. All is consciousness. All experience is consciousness. The Na’vi are here, and they are us.
By the way, does the following video remind you of anything? I’ll bet James Cameron has seen this (from the movie Baraka):