Sunday, July 29, 2012

Choice, hope and service

In a world beset by peril, resolving the prevailing issues depends on those stepping up who possess the requisite qualities for tackling them. Find out more about those attributes in my latest VividLife post, Choice, hope, service themes drive 'The Dark Knight Rises', available by clicking here. And to find out more about the movie, click here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Delicate Balance

Getting our intellect and intuition in order is essential to properly manifest the reality we desire. Find out more about this in my latest Master Heart Magazine post, "Conscious Creation's Balancing Act," available by clicking here. And be sure to check out Master Heart's latest vlog on this month's theme, Balance, available by clicking here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

‘Kevin’ Reveals Conscious Creation’s Dark Side

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” (2011). Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller, Jasper Newell, Rock Duer, Ashley Gerasimovich. Director: Lynne Ramsay. Screenplay: Lynne Ramsay and Rory Kinnear. Book: Lionel Shriver.

Many practitioners of conscious creation (also known as the law of attraction) like to believe that it’s a purely positive force aimed only at improving the state of mankind. And, to be sure, it can be employed to work wondrous miracles. However, as those who are well-acquainted with it know, conscious creation is essentially a force based on one’s mindset, which essentially means that it can be put to use for manifesting our existence for better or worse, depending on the beliefs driving one’s worldview. A film that frankly and expertly explores this notion from conscious creation’s “dark” side is the gripping drama “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” now available on DVD and Blu-ray disk.

Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) is struggling to put her life back together after “the incident.” The once-successful travel writer now works as a file clerk in a travel agency and lives a dismal existence, haunted by the tragic events of her past. As for what got Eva to where she is, viewers find out as her current life unfolds, intercut with flashbacks from her past. And it’s a disturbing account indeed.

As Eva’s career began took off, she met and fell in love with her eventual husband, Franklin (John C. Reilly). They shared a wonderful carefree relationship, living a fun-filled life in New York. But then something happened that changed everything – Eva got pregnant, a development about which she clearly had mixed feelings. That ambivalence became even more obvious when her son, Kevin, was born. As a career-oriented woman, she felt noticeably saddled by the responsibilities and constrictions of motherhood, feelings that grew ever more apparent with Kevin’s emerging behavioral issues, first as a toddler (Rock Duer), then as a youngster (Jasper Newell), and eventually as a rebellious, unpredictable teen (Ezra Miller).

Despite her failings in genuinely coming to terms with these feelings, Eva attempted to put a good face on her child-rearing efforts (arguably exercising far more tolerance than what would have been expected of her), but Kevin’s defiant reactions to her mothering skills left her perplexed and distressed. And, if that weren’t bad enough, Kevin put up a front that made it look as though he sincerely got along well with his father, deliberately adding insult to injury. Franklin bought into his son’s ruse completely and simply couldn’t fathom what he saw as Eva’s overblown concerns, undermining his confidence in his wife’s maternal capabilities and straining their marriage. Over time, Eva’s relationship with Franklin deteriorated further, as did her relationship with Kevin, who became ever more oppositional and a disaster waiting to happen. And through it all, Eva could only watch in disbelief and, ultimately, horror, wondering why events unfolded as they did and what she did to deserve her fate.

As conscious creation practitioners are well aware, we create the reality we experience through the beliefs we hold, whether or not we’re fully aware of what they are (which is why it is so important for us to get a handle on them). In Eva’s case, it’s obvious (at least to viewers) that she has mixed feelings about motherhood. It’s even suggested that she wished she had never become pregnant in the first place. And, if that’s indeed the case, is it any wonder she ended up with a problem child? What newborn would want to take up residence in a household with a mother like that?

At the heart of things (from a conscious creation perspective), perhaps Kevin’s destiny was to point out the true driving forces behind his mother’s manifestation efforts (even if he wasn’t fully aware of that himself). Now, this is not to suggest that Eva should be condemned for her beliefs; they’re simply her beliefs, yet they ultimately serve to materialize the reality she experiences, again, as noted above, for better or worse.

Assessing this story in this context may sound somewhat insensitive, perhaps even dubious, especially since Eva made a seemingly genuine attempt at fulfilling her maternal role. Over time, she even showed signs of growing to like motherhood, having given birth to a daughter, Celia (Ashley Gerasimovich), whom she adored. But, despite the apparent sincerity of her efforts, Eva nevertheless held onto an underlying belief that undercut her motherly instincts, at least where her son was concerned, and Kevin merely mirrored back to her the fact that, on a basic level, he really wasn’t wanted. It might be difficult to accept the notion that a mother would think that way about her child, but beliefs don’t lie, and they ultimately reflect corporeally what they intrinsically embody.

Because Eva ostensibly didn’t want to become a mother when she became pregnant the first time, she should have honored that belief if she wished to avoid the issues that came with that unwanted role. Such instances require us being honest with ourselves, following the true intents that reside within each of us and exercising our innate ability to make choices – no matter how hard they might be – to live up to our intrinsic beliefs. To do otherwise is to invite difficulty, even tragedy, as Eva so painfully discovers.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” is probably one of the most overlooked pictures of last year. It had an extremely short run in theaters, playing mostly at film festivals and in major markets. That’s regrettable given its powerful plot, excellent screenplay and superb direction. There’s tremendous economy is every scene, with no extraneous imagery or tangential narratives, creating a tautly told story that captivates viewers with everything that transpires on screen. The picture’s stellar performances make it all work, particularly those of Swinton and the three young actors who portray Kevin.

Despite the film’s underperformance at the box office, it fared well in last year’s awards competitions, earning Swinton best actress nominations in the Golden Globe, Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild award competitions (she was worthy of an Oscar nod, too) and a Critics Choice Award nomination for Miller in the best young actor category. The picture was also recognized as a Palme d’Or nominee at the Cannes Film Festival, the event’s highest honor.

Conscious creation is by no means all gloom and doom; quite the contrary. It can be a highly effective means for bringing us the life we desire. But, if we harbor “negative” beliefs or if we fail to honor our true intents because they seem inappropriate, antisocial or politically incorrect, we run the risk of creating a reality filled with pitfalls, obstacles and mayhem. Getting real with ourselves is essential if we hope to avoid the perils of conscious creation’s dark side, and this cautionary tale offers us an excellent example of how to go about that.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

‘Ted’ Cautions ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’

“Ted” (2012). Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane (voice), Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Aedin Mincke, Patrick Warburton, Matt Walsh, Jessica Barth, Bill Smitrovich, Bretton Manley, Ralph Garman, Alex Borstein, Ryan Reynolds, Patrick Stewart (narrator), Sam J. Jones (himself), Norah Jones (herself), Tom Skerritt (himself). Director: Seth MacFarlane. Screenplay: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. Story: Seth MacFarlane.

We’ve all no doubt wished that something seemingly improbable would come true. And, amazingly, there are times when that, in fact, happens, despite the odds being stacked against it. In some instances, those materialized wishes live up their billing in every regard, while, in others, there are unanticipated consequences, as an idealistic lad turned confused adult finds out in the outrageous new comedy, “Ted.”

John (Bretton Manley) is a lonely little boy. As a youngster growing up in the Boston suburbs in the late 1970s, he’s largely ignored, sometimes taunted, by all the neighborhood kids. Which is why he’s so excited one Christmas morning when his parents (Ralph Garman, Alex Borstein) present him with the gift of an adorable teddy bear whom John names Ted. John’s so taken with his new toy that he quickly comes to see him as his best friend. In fact, the only thing that would make him happier would be if Ted could talk, a wish that John makes in earnest – and that quickly comes true.

John is thrilled, to say the least. And, thanks to his unique ability, Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) becomes an overnight sensation, even making an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. But Ted’s gift proves to be more than just a fleeting occurrence; in fact, it never goes away, and neither does the bear. As John grows into adulthood (Mark Wahlberg), he and Ted continue their lives together. The longtime buddies still have loads of fun, not unlike when both were younger (even if the nature of that fun has changed considerably over time). But the challenges of growing up frequently impinge on their good times, and each must learn to cope with the changes in their lives, such as Ted’s faded glory and John’s search to find himself, both in work and in his relationship with his girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis). The question for both man and bear is, how will things play out?

John’s ability to bring Ted to life clearly shows that he’s a natural conscious creator. Even if he’s unaware of his skills, he’s able to tap into the power of manifestation and bring his wishes into being. But, despite these capabilities, it’s also quite apparent that John isn’t fully aware of the consequences of his actions. It’s understandable that a lonely little boy would want to materialize a friend for himself, but it’s also quite natural that he might not realize that he would be doing so for life, not just for childhood.

Being aware of the consequences that come with conscious creation is something of which we should all be aware when we engage in this practice. It’s especially crucial for children, since they often have few or no inhibitions when it comes to metaphysical matters, and they may not always exercise the kind of prudence that would be advisable under the circumstances. But, if one were to fail at keeping sight of this into adulthood, the impact on the outcomes could be ongoing, perhaps even multiplied indefinitely.

Circumstances like this draw attention to two additional – and highly significant – aspects of the conscious creation process. First, one must never lose sight of the responsibility that comes with materialization, for our creations ultimately spring forth from us, even if we aren’t always aware of what we’re putting out into the world. John frequently fails on this point through his adventures (and misadventures), sometimes consciously, sometimes not. But, either way, accepting responsibility for his manifestations is something he must learn if ever he hopes to master his abilities – or simply just to grow up.

When the implications of this occur consciously, a second aspect of the process becomes apparent – choice. We can each choose how we employ the practice and to what ends, a consideration that becomes particularly important where responsibility issues are concerned. In John’s case, he has choice at his disposal at all times, but it’s not something he always exercises judiciously (especially when his furry buddy gets into the act). He needn’t fall prey to the perils if irresponsibility and bad choices, however, as long as he has this basic quality of conscious creation at his disposal – and decides to exercise them.

“Ted” is surprisingly profound in many respects, serving up more than just laughs (although they’re reason enough for seeing it). Its outrageous sense of humor easily overcomes any hints of saccharin-encrusted cutesiness, even if some of the jokes fall flat or push the envelope of propriety and/or political incorrectness. And then there’s the special effects with the bear, which are pretty incredible and inventive. The narrative is admittedly a bit predictable, though the path it takes to fulfill certain aspects of the story often leads viewers in some delightfully unanticipated directions.

Sometimes wishes come true in ways far greater than anticipated, and cautionary tales like “Ted” can serve to remind us of that fact. But, with an awareness of the power, responsibility and choice that come with such matters, we just might get what we want –and without any unintended side effects. And who knows, with enough practice, phrases like “Be careful what you wish for” just might become obsolete.