“The Old Man and the Gun” – movie recommendation and review

This is a story of the “gentleman bank robber”,  Forrest Tucker who did his holdups in the early 1980’s.  Robert Redford plays Tucker.

In this story, Forrest Tucker leads a life well-lived.  He was charming and charismatic.  Many of his victims who were interviewed reported that they really liked him.  It seems no one held his profession against him or judged him for it, personally.  If anything, some expressed envy at Tucker’s contentment and love of his work.

I mention this movie precisely because of this.  I like him too.  I was moved at his profound satisfaction with his work and his kind, charming demeanor.

One could say that any bank robber is a flawed human being.  There is, perhaps, a dark side within him.  One could say that he kept it up, against all odds for a good outcome, out of some sort of addiction.  Perhaps the thrill.

The character himself expressed his motive as “just living”.    No separation between himself and what he is doing, the life he is living.  He expressed deep gratitude for the joy and pleasure that he experienced “just living”.

Taking a leap, I would take away two things from this story.

  1.  Forrest Tucker’s example is a prescription for living.  Of course, many things could go wrong.  He was on the wrong side of the law and what most of us consider to be proper behavior.  In this story, he leads a charmed life.  Robbing, getting caught, going to prison, escaping and doing it again.  Nothing really bad seemed to happen to him or his victims.  What he experienced seemed to be simple joy.
  2. I would go further out on a limb to suggest that the story was also autobiographical (of Robert Redford), who is expressing his gratitude for his life well-lived, motivated by doing what he was best at and what he loved the most.  If so, this takes the statement “I can’t believe they pay me to do this” to a new level.  If true, maybe he is suggesting that he got away as a thief would, with something for nothing.

 

 

“Victoria and Abdul” – movie recommendation and review

Victoria and Abdul is the story of the meeting and friendship of an elderly Queen Victoria of England and a  young and handsome Abdul from Agra, India, who happened to visit the royal court on an official state visit to present a nondescript gift to Victoria from the colonial government of India.

The story is told from the points of view of Victoria and Abdul.  The story emerges from their relationship.  There are many complexities to the story, such as the imperialistic tendencies of the British empire, white racial dominance, and power seeking sycophants at the royal court.  Sound familiar?

In its telling, the intention is to distill the aspects of the experience that are important to the characters and express them in human terms that we can understand, for our benefit.  Many of the scenes are humorous, but real.

It is tempting to see the race relations and power structure portrayed in the movie in today’s popular terms, but only doing that limits the impact of the experience of the movie.  Those things are secondary in importance at best, though that seems to be mostly what the critics are hung up on and all they can talk about.

We, the audience, are not objective observers of a drama played out in a certain (maybe familiar) context.  We can actually share the characters’  experience if we allow the suspension of disbelief and merge with them.  What they see, feel and know is what we see, feel and know.  That is the virtue of how the movie is crafted.

We don’t emerge from the movie loving Victoria and Abdul.  We do love the love these characters found as it resonates in us.  After the movie we can go on with great satisfaction having had that experience, just as Abdul suggests to Victoria for her final journey as he recites Rumi’s poem.

“The King of Hearts” – movie recommendation and review

This is one of a few movies that I have been moved to recommend.  In my world view, it deserves everyone’s attention.

Many stories have been written about war and the consequences of engaging in it.  Here is a movie that strips away most of the consequential horror, leaving an experience of very absurd humor and pathos.  Not districted by all the graphic ugliness, the audience is allowed to experience some very profound truth about the mind and human behavior when anything is allowed to happen.  It resonates with and brings a fresh view to today’s world-scape of non-fact reality.  Enjoy.

Here is the review from the Los Angeles Times.

A significant Chapter in History

It is a small offering and the risk is enormous.  While it intends to give grace to a disgraced nation in a difficult time, Fire and Fury (Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House) by Michael Wolff shares some important background of the inner workings of the White house.  It’s important to know.
The details of the story so far are not disputed,  but it is controversial that they were shared at all.  The most opaque administration in history has come to light.  There will certainly be some pushback and reprisal.

Read and share (and buy)

 

 

 

Harry Dean Stanton – Review

Since Friday, with the passing of Harry Dean Stanton, I have been reading numerous accolades about the depth of his work as a character actor. I hadn’t taken notice of his work until about a week before his passing, when I watched an episode (#5, I think) of “Twin Peaks: The Return”. In that episode there is a scene that I count as perhaps the most profound that I have witnessed in this or any show.  It is a credit to all who produce Twin Peaks, but in particular to Harry Dean Stanton.
The gravity of the scene is captured nicely by Mark Butler in iNews.  Bravo.

Meditation: Kundalini Surjhee

On July 22, 2017

An immersion was held at Yoga West, led by Jagat Guru Singh. a long time student of Yogi Bhajan and Guru Dev Singh.

Its purpose was to introduce the Kundalini Surjhee Shabad to students in order to promote its recitation for their health and well being.

KundaliniSurjheeMantra

    introduction

Meditation: M060-901121-AWAKEN-KUNDALINI

     Kundalini Surjhee 63 min

     Kundalini Surjhee Live 2.5 hours

 

On this Fourth of July, 2017

Some of my friends and kindred souls are saying that the health of our democratic republic, America, has hit a new low.  I think that the real low was the Civil War, which, evidently, never ended completely, and hopefully, will not be repeated.  With all the diversity of our Nation, there are inevitably people who do want to go there and revive that tragic incident.  We know who they are.

As to why, the question is one of identity.  We can choose to identify with our self and God, or abdicate the elevated self to our ego, other egos, groups of people founded on ego and all the baggage of ego: misery, suffering, fear, hatred and a clinging to ignorance.

I brought this up earlier presenting  a reading from the I Ching for July 4.  Today, I am reminded that people whom we consider to be heroes are just people who remained themselves, no matter what the circumstances: forces, pressures, enticements, threats and dangers.

Today in the Los Angeles Times an article appeared which tells the story of a hero who is just a regular guy who knows who he is and what his duty is to himself, his friends, his nation and humanity.  It may be interpreted, as it is in the article, that certain ethnic or other groups are constantly having to prove that they are Americans.  I don’t see this guy as having any ideal outside of himself that inspired his bravery.  I see him as just a simple fellow from a nondescript place at a certain time under certain circumstances who found within himself the wherewithal to keep going.  In his moment of trial, he had faith.

 

 

 

 

Grokking Boston

My wife and I visited Boston last week.  We discovered that visiting the place resulted in revisiting events in our personal and collective psyches.

Visiting with our old friends Henrietta and Don rekindled our passionate love for exploring the landscape of current social drama and politics, Martin Scorsese’s movie Silence, John Oliver’s commentaries, etc.  Unlike the midwesterner’s comment in Alexandra Pelosi’s Journeys with Georgewho said, paraphrasing, “we all get along just fine because we all hate the same things“, we get along because we love the same things, e.g., our country and way of life.

JFK

Visiting the JFK library and museum transported us to another time that remains indelibly etched in our psyches.  To know it, we only need be reminded of it.  I remember it as the realization that anything is possible.  Camelot.

I also remember the dark passages of that time.  The Cuban missile crisis. I remarked to a woman next to me as we saw a recap of that October of 1962.  I commented, “I thought we were all going to die”.  She replied “We all thought we were going to die”.

It evoked the murder of the President.  The darkest day in living memory.

It evokes the contrast between a time when a politician loved his constituents and the present where many politicians cynically express abject hatred and contmept for them.

Kennedy remains the smiling young champion of justice and human rights.  That can never be tarnished.  Those who disparage him and his legacy only tarnish themselves.

Little was accomplished directly during his presidency.  It was too short.  He did get the ball rolling.  Many years ago we visited the LBJ library in Austin, Texas.  What we saw there was astonishing.  The body of Johnson’s legislative accomplishments is enormous.  Human rights, social justice, voting rights and environmental protections owe their existence to this one man.  It seemed that he was all about fulfilling Kennedy’s dreams.  Successfully.

See JFK Library mages

Edward M Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

We visited the institute, which shares the same grounds as the Kennedy library.  We were introduced to the history and the functioning of the Senate.  We participated in a mock debate in a replica of the senate chamber.  Very interesting.

See Institute images

The Freedom Trail

Boston seems to be unique in its long history as an American city.  It appears to be the real cradle of the American experience.  The Freedom Trail is a well marked path that winds throughout the city which visits many of the historic landmarks that led to what is now the United States.  Walking that path is a moving experience.  I was again transported to a time when events reflected the greatness of people who rose up against tyranny and formed a common purpose to eradicate injustice for all time.  Their call to unite is still irresistible.  I can see how this moves Bostonians to identify as patriots of a righteous cause with pride and defiance.  Even the Red Sox seems to be something more than just a baseball team.  It’s an identity of unity.

This creates a sharp contrast with the current state of affairs in our nation where members of one group of people with enormous power are lukewarm at best to the unity of the nation and who would willingly let go of the American legacy for short term political gain and personal wealth.

Sad.

See Freedom Trail images

 

 

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power – Review

My wife and I attended an event last night at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, featuring a screening of the new film and an appearance by Al Gore, who gave in an interview and update of what’s been happening since the release of An Inconvenient Truth in 2006.  What I describe below are features and conclusions expressed in the film and by Al Gore during his interview.

The essential truth is that climate change and the warming of the Planet Earth is not a political issue.  It is not hypothetical.  It is not a projection for the future.  It is here.  It is reality.  It has been made a political issue in America by the fossil fuel industry and well-healed and powerful people who are being made richer by denying that reality.  It’s that simple.

The political ploys that they have used are nearly identical to those that were employed by the tobacco industry in the suppression and obfuscation of smoking related health data in the 1980’s.  The results have also been similar.  They have spent over two billion dollars on their campaign to sway public opinion on the issue.  Their efforts have have been somewhat successful.  A significant segment of the population has been successfully misled, which has produced a widespread apathy to to the urgency of the situation and to the issue itself.

Science is a major proponent of truth in our civilization.  It is not inherently wise, but it can tell us when something is broken, and often, how to fix it.  Climate science has already shown us how to fix the climate problem physically.  It has fallen short of helping enough people in power to develop the will to do something about it.

In order to fix that, it has taken a serious advocate, in the person of Al Gore, to champion the endeavor to educate and otherwise shift the awareness of people toward the truth.

The most prominent example of this is Gore’s negotiations with the Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi during around the time of the global climate conference in 2015.  Modi was reluctant to lend his support for a climate accord because he felt that the Indian economy was not strong enough to shift resources toward the development of new alternative energy technologies and industries.  The need for the developing nation’s increase in energy production was immediate, with no room for mistakes. Modi and Parliament were on the verge of authorizing the building of 400 new coal based generation plants.  Gore realized that that would be a climate catastrophe.  He also realized that it was not their fault for their thinking that way.  India was in a really tough spot.

So, Gore contacted Solar City’s CEO Lyndon Rive about negotiating an agreement with India for the transfer of solar photovoltaic technology to India that would benefit both India and Solar City.  After intense negotiations, the deal was done, and Modi agreed to join the Paris climate accord.  Now that’s deal making.

Gore admitted, both to the audience and in the film, that he was often on the verge of despair regarding the trend of American politics on the matter.  Still, he persevered.  The history of setbacks is long.

One of the first was the cancellation of the NASA DSCOVR project.  It was one of the first casualties of George W Bush’s new administration.  The project was intended to launch a satellite into a solar orbit that is synchronized with the orbit of the earth in order to observe the earth from a constant “full earth” perspective.  It could make make measurements of the earth 24/7 which could then be analyzed to yield useful climate data.  For example, it would be a constant monitor over time of the ratio of incident and reflected energy on the earth.  That would yield an accurate measurement of how much energy is being absorbed by greenhouse gasses and the rise of global temperatures.

Many setbacks have occurred in America with the election of climate denying politicians to government office, and most recently, the appointment of many of them to federal executive cabinet and other high ranking positions.

On the other hand, there seems to be a global trend for the adoption of renewable energy sources.  Even in the US, in Texas, no less, one town proudly touts its 100% reliance on these resources. Some states have nearly reached 100% fossil fuel independence.  Across the world, the adoption and use of renewable energy is accelerating dramatically.  In Chile, in the last year or so, the production of renewable energy has grown by several thousand percent.  China has committed to the movement.

When asked whether a tipping point has been reached in the industrial and political adoption of renewable energy, Gore did not state unequivocally that it has, but he indicated that he thinks it’s inevitable.  He remains hopeful.

There were many examples shown in the movie of devastating events that have occurred worldwide since the last movie that are directly and unequivocally attributable to temperature and climate. Amid all the massive devastation, one event really stood out as a surprising and disturbing data point.

In 2015 a massive deluge was recorded in Tucson.  It seemed to be an aerial view of clouds dumping water (billions of gallons?) on Tucson as if a giant barrel in the sky tipped over.  You could actually make out the splash  of the water on the ground. Not drops. Barrels.

I don’t recall any mention of tipping points with regard to climate change itself.  That is, the point at which the planet will not recover sufficiently to stop the warming progression.  This was a prominent topic earlier on in the discussion.

See movie trailer

See interview at Greek Theater (video shaky, audio good)

 

“Fargo” the Series – a short review

My wife and I just finished watching season 2 of Fargo.  I found it to be quite overwhelming.  It is unbelievably well written.  The story line was somewhat constrained by the actual events, but it was masterfully composed for maximum effect.  Only one event in season 2 showed the writers rebelling against their fate.  That was comical.

The two seasons tell the story of two generations of Sheriffs and their families in Minnesota who encounter the most outrageous and unlikely circumstances in their work.  The characters are interwoven seamlessly with the plot. They came alive.  No cartoons.

Prominent in their development was the portrayal of the choices they made in the face of outrageous circumstances.  Their moral fiber, loyalty, integrity and personal ambitions were challenged at every turn.  What they did in each instance was compelling to watch and made one wonder what would happen next.  Every choice was followed by consequences that became ever more complex and difficult to navigate.  The question became “who would survive life?”.

There were many stories within the story, a few of which went on to a rather predictable fate.  I was satisfied.

The Teacher

Dear Blessed Healers,

It is a good time to assess and tune our relationship with our teacher.  However you perceive that relationship personally, there is only the question of identity that seems to matter.  Guru Dev Singh identifies as a teacher, as did Yogi Bhajan before him and so on through the lineage.  It is a commitment of love, sacrifice and endless service.  In order to hold a proper relation with him, Yogi Bhajan and the Guru, it is important to clarify that aspect of identity in our awareness.

The Guru is not inherently our friend, nor is any teacher.  The teacher has delightful personality, which we love.  That is not the basis for the relation.  It is an attraction that gets our attention.

Neither will the Guru, nor any teacher, save us directly.  Only indirectly.  That obligation is on us.  It is our duty, upon receiving the grace of God through the Guru and through the teacher, that we apply the teachings to our personal circumstance. We must focus beyond all distraction, including our own and our teacher’s personality, to the source of grace.  Then we must commit to keeping it up, beyond all circumstance.  That is how we are saved.  If we identify as a teacher, then we can also promote the flow of grace to others through the teachings.  Rather than our friend, the teacher is our benefactor who facilitates our salvation by enlightening our ignorance.

It is a time for healing.  Our teacher, and ourselves.  We are healers. Rather than objectively “healing” our teacher, we should go to the core of the relation where we all can merge with our common intent and so heal all.

Here is a meditation that I suggest will help in that endeavor.

Meditation: NM0380 Ecstasy and Joy

 

 

Don’t worry about the future

Last night my wife and I watched an interesting movie that has a resonance with what is happening.

In class last night we did a meditation about this.
Meditation: 881026 Removing Fear of the Future
The meditation removes fear of the future by freeing us of the endless mental contrivances we construct in order to avoid fear and pain.

The movie is The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.

The man is portrayed in various stages of a very colorful and eventful life. He lives by his mother’s dying admonition not to worry about the future.  She said that worry will always make things worse.  She suffered greatly, even in dying, but knew the secret of happiness, even if she never realized it in her life.  She said to Allan, her son (the now 100 year old man) it always is what it is, and will always be what it will be.  He took her up on that, which made all the difference.  He led a happy and charmed life.  Even at 100, he wasn’t finished.

The story is similar to Forrest Gump.  He also led a charmed life.  Forrest’s secret was innocence.  Allan’s was living in the moment, flowing like water.  Both were lucky, seemingly making their own luck.  Both were free of fear of the future.

A Recipe for living in interesting times – a meditation and healing class at Yoga West (review)

On 02/01/2017, we held a meditation and healing class at Yoga West:

A recipe for living in interesting times

When we are anxious, at odds or even depressed with the way external events are going, often we are unsure that we can contain or meet the challenges that are presented to us.  This can come from self denial.  We doubt our strength, endurance, wherewithal to keep up and our ability to lead.  Self denial can also cause chronic insecurity and crushing self doubt.  We worked on mitigating that with the meditation  http://www.harinam.com/meditation-nm0394-live-above-denial/.

If we can repair our inner projection and feel comfortable in our skin we can then modify how we are trained to relate with externals.  Where we have withdrawn or checked out from what is going on around us and separated from other people we can reengage and participate again in reality.  For that we performed the meditation
http://www.harinam.com/meditation-for-faculty-of-self-engagement/

When the circulation between our self and the outer world is reestablished and flowing, then we can ask the universe for good things to happen.  This meditation addresses that.
http://www.harinam.com/meditation-for-prosperity/

We performed healing exercises that reestablish the flow of prana between the hara and the heart chakra.  Prana from the earth enters the hara.  The flow through the heart supports our intentions and stamina.  This can resolve obstacles in our life.  Balancing the hemispheres of the brain also supports this.

Yesterday, an extraordinary thing happened…

Yesterday, millions of people spontaneously came together, transcending rational behavior. Why? because it felt right.

That is the ultimate test of whether you are on the right track or are doing the right thing.  Felt good? Maybe.  But it felt right.

All of the physical dimensions that separate people were suspended yesterday: distance, geographical location, race, sexual identity, social strata, group identity, opinion, age, fear, doubt, suspicion and all forms of personal individuality.  People came together in many places, in many ways.  For what purpose?  Simply, to be together. Continue reading “Yesterday, an extraordinary thing happened…”

Revised comments on “Citizen Kane”, the movie

Citizen Kane is often touted as the greatest American movie.  It is studied in virtually all film schools. Its construction, by all measures is impeccable.

Having seen the movie again, it appears to me that Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Wells, who wrote the screenplay,  were prophets.

The 1941 story was ostensibly about the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. He held a conglomerate of newspapers and used them to build an empire of wealth and destroy his enemies.

It was largely a story about the main character Charles Foster Kane as told to a reporter through interviews by other characters who knew him.  Through everyone’s eyes Kane was described as a shameless self promoter who loved no one but his own image of himself and believed in nothing except his own wealth.  He dragged along his close supporters with his own success.  He used his newspapers to intimidate his rivals and to seduce and influence the masses to give him the love he never knew as a child.  The core elements are the character’s ambition that propels him to the limelight and his flaws that eventually lead to his undoing.  He touted himself as a champion of the people, trying to get himself elected to public office.  He had limited initial success but was eventually defeated by scandal of his own making.  You could argue that the movie had a happy ending. Continue reading “Revised comments on “Citizen Kane”, the movie”

“Silence” the Movie by Martin Scorsese

It has been just over four years since I reviewed the movie Lincoln.  Silence has caught my attention as a movie of our time that questions the choices we all must make about who we are.

Some of us recognize our fundamentally spiritual nature and so turn our attention to various teachings in order to inform ourselves of that nature.  There is a long history of religion in the world that purports to do that for us.  While most religions attempt to point directly to that nature in us, and many claim to have found its core, still they are mostly organized around tribal and cultural bases. They can only be described and explained in terms of a dominant culture and among the common experiences of a tribe’s members. Continue reading ““Silence” the Movie by Martin Scorsese”