Avatar! Considered by many to be one of the most groundbreaking movies of our generation, it stands as a testament for how far our technology has come, allowing us to create and bear witness to new worlds as we’ve never seen them before. Yet, under the surface of the technological achievement of this film lies an intense undercurrent of hidden spirituality.
At the highest level of the movie, we see the story play out as a narrative between the dualistic nature of our human consciousness, and our relationship with our planet. You can describe this duality in ways such as Organic vs. Mechanic, the soft vs. The hard, the light vs. The dark, the enlightened vs. The asleep or alien vs. the native.
This dualistic theme is introduced to us by a look at how the human world has evolved, and a reflection of the same consciousness we have today that got us there. People are cold, and the earth has been polluted, there is no sign of things improving. Those in power are using their resources to leech off of another planet to support their dying world.
Jake, the lead protagonist, lands on Pandora with the same conditioning as the rest of the military - Pandora is a hostile land, and the natives are deadly, everything wants to kill you. As the story progresses, we see the transition from one paradigm of consciousness into another - through Jake's discovery that the story he’s been told is not the highest truth.
As we are introduced to the Na’Vi, we are invited to explore a fresh take on Spirituality, which has been designed for this movie based on African, Native American, and other Indigenous cultures of the world. They teach us of Eywa, the deity to whom the Na’ vi praise in reverence, and we are taught that to them, God is feminine, and nature is infused with her divine spirit. Scientifically, we are given explanations of this, through the electro-chemical neural network that exists between all of the plant life on the entire world, connecting experience as if one giant living organism, something the Na’Vi can tap into. Around their sacred tree, we see rocks formed in the shape of an electromagnetic field, further illustrating this symbolism.
What’s impressive here is that this is not exclusive to just Pandora, in that we see this reflected in the whole universe. Scientists today have observed that the Universe itself appears to form much like a neural network, suggesting that everything in existence is a part of a giant interconnected mind. These are foundational teachings of Hermetics, and James Cameron has embedded these ideas deep into the foundational structure of the story.
Further, it may not be coincidental that Eywa sounds similar to “Yahweh,” one of the names for God in the Bible. It’s almost as if through this film, we are shown this connection to the religions that we have in the world today, and how life changes when we look to the feminine side of deity, versus the masculine.
Throughout this movie, we see Jake begin to soften to the experience of the Na’Vi. As this process is happening, we see an apparent juxtaposition between two different states of consciousness.
The first is the perception that you are separate from nature, a mentality embodied by the entire human army, and jake too when he goes on his first mission. He is curious about his environment, but it is separate from him, and this is made very clear once he finds himself alone in the wilderness, struggling to survive. This is deeply relevant to a quote by Albert Einstein, who said the following:
"I think the most critical question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.
"For if we decide that a universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries, and our natural resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy all that which is unfriendly and I believe that we are getting to a place where technology is sturdy enough that we may either completely isolate or destroy ourselves as well in this process.
"If we decide that the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly and that God is mostly ‘playing dice with the universe,’ then we are simply victims to the random toss of the dice, and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.
"But if we decide that a universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries, and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives."
"God does not play dice with the universe,"
For Jake in the forest, we see him light a torch, drowning out the light of the natural beauty around him. This is not dissimilar to how in a city, it is difficult, if not sometimes impossible, to see the lights of the stars above our heads. It’s only when we turn out the light, can we truly see.
Just before Neytiri rescues him, there is a moment where she is going to kill him, but a little bit of nature comes and stops her from firing the arrow. This may very well be one of the most significant scenes in the entire movie because it shows the difference between Na’Vi consciousness and human consciousness. She can listen to nature, she hears what it has to say, and she surrenders to the divine will. Instead of firing anyways, she stays her weapon, and saves the day with sorrow, because the jackals didn’t have to die. She remarks that he is like a baby, making noise not knowing what to do, speaking to his spiritual immaturity. She points out that it’s HIS fault the jackals attacked him because he wasn’t in tune with nature. This speaks to our own ability to take responsibility for what we are creating, even if its unconscious.
Over the following hour or so of the movie, we watch as Jake profoundly connects with the Na’vi and their ways, and in doing so, discovers his spiritual self, and falls in love.
For viewers watching the film, we get to experience the transformation of Jake within us because we are experiencing the movie within our consciousness - and so Jake becomes our avatar, as for those of us who are receptive, we too learn to soften to the more natural ways of life. The film provides a lens for us to ask ourselves, where are we hard, rigid, or otherwise emotionless in our journey through life, and how can we connect deeper with ourselves and the natural world around us?
Curiously, there is a deleted scene from this movie that almost taught us a more in-depth lesson here, but unfortunately, it was cut from the final production. The scene features Jake in his avatar form participating in a sacred ceremony that is not all that dissimilar from an ayahuasca journey. However, this version includes eating a worm and getting bitten by a scorpion - and as a side note - Scorpio is the zodiac sign of the invisible, mysticism, and transformation. Much like Ayahuasca, Jake goes through a rather tumultuous period as his consciousness changes awareness, and then he suddenly activates into his energy body. From here, he leaves his physical form and rises as energy into a world of light and transcendent beauty, where he connects with what is probably the spirit of Eywa through the great tree of life. And honestly, once you’ve seen this scene, watching the full movie just feels like it’s missing this big crescendo right in the middle. It’s such a powerful and transcendent scene, just saying.
While we cannot definitively say that Cameron and his team participated in Ayahuasca ceremonies, the connection here is too striking to suggest that he’s never heard of it either. Some even suggest that it was Cameron's exploration with plant medicine that inspired the movie, to begin with, but that’s all just purely speculation. Nevertheless - James, if you’re watching, I know you probably had some good reasons for taking that scene out, maybe you thought people wouldn’t get it, that society wasn’t ready, or perhaps you had some studio executive going “grumble you can’t show that to a billion people grumble” - whatever the reason, I implore you - please bring it back for Avatar 2!
Moving on, even though we didn’t get our ayahuasca scene, we got some other ceremonies that were just as interesting. As we see on multiple occasions, The Na’vi also participates in a sacred service where they link their consciousness together and connect with Eywa for the divine purpose of soul transference. Through their collective mind and mystic prayer, they can move the soul of one individual into another body.
What’s especially curious about this is that thinking biologically, why would any species need to learn how to do this? Especially for the NaVi, it doesn’t seem like something they’d ever need to use. They probably don’t have tons of empty Na’Vi bodies just lying around for them to switch their souls into whenever they want, right? Therefore, the significance of these scenes is to demonstrate two things. One - to give us an underlying idea that consciousness is not limited to the brain or body, but exists beyond it and through it, and further - that with a connection to the divine, we can accomplish anything.
After this movie came out, some people were depressed, and even a few cases of suicide, because the world of Pandora wasn’t real, and it was just so much more appealing than the world we have now. However, Pandora lives within us, and beyond that, the film provides us lessons on how we can restore life on earth to a natural way of being. Through the proper use of prayer, ceremony, and understanding that we all are connected through our thoughts and feelings, we can amplify our spiritual energy, and accomplish things that may even seem impossible to us today. One hundred years ago, we never could have conceived of technology like a smartphone. Just imagine where we could be in another hundred years?
Finally, the way that many people experienced this film was a narrative about nature. Humans have been incredibly destructive on the face of the planet, and we must change our behavior to thrive in harmony with the natural world. We understand clearly that Economic imperialism is disastrously exploitive, and it’s time we collectively find a better way to express the desire to create and expand in a way that is in harmony with all of life. We can see that the Na’Vi live abundantly; they do not have money; everything is shared. This says to us that we too can have lives like this if we can get to a place consciously where we see each other as connected, and give of ourselves freely to each other to Infinitum.
And, most important, Avatar is a narrative on the relationship between colonists and natives, which we have seen time and time again in the world in different ways, from Frozen 2 and Pocahontas to Dances with Wolves and Ferngully. This is a vital conversation because things in real life didn’t go the way they did in Avatar - civilizations were destroyed and suppressed. Today the are entire cultures that are still living under the heel of the colonialist empire.
Today, films like Avatar help to bring these conversations to light in a way that makes it easy for the collective consciousness to grasp. It’s effortless to take for granted the actions of our ancestors that brought us here today. Still, we must acknowledge our history and learn from it, and right the wrongs in our past if we are going to create collective healing and a better future for all of us.
Now, there’s one final thing I wish to speak on. I didn’t know where to share this, so let’s do it now. While the mentality of humans is observed as the antagonist in this movie, there is one aspect of it that we must recognize as necessary - which is a human technology. You see, the Na’vi live in a different paradigm, they do not need to build spaceships, they do that with their version of ayahuasca, but the humans, on the other hand, have these fantastic spaceship technologies, not to mention cool holographic computers as well. Unfortunately, we see this technology used for such selfish and abusive purposes because the technology itself isn’t evil, but the people are steering it.
Avatar itself was praised for its technological innovation. Through the film, we see a farther potential as to what humanity could create with our computers, and even more significantly - our bio-tech. It is through the technology that the avatar bodies were designed, and that which allowed a conscious neural link between their physical form, and the avatar body. It’s the idea that we are so powerful as a species, we can create anything we want to. If we follow in this thought, we can see that the entire world of pandora is something that we could turn the earth into, if we collectively decided we wanted that. We can learn how to terraform the whole planet into a thriving natural ecosystem, just as much as we can use it to destroy ourselves.
Ultimately, that decision rests in our hands, individually, and together as a species. The only thing that will limit us from some magical future for us all is if we can learn to live from the heart and see each other the way that the Na’vi saw each other. One with everything.
Thank you so much for watching! I know that there’s a lot more than this in the movie, so if you noticed something else that we missed, share it in the comments below, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to give a like and a subscribe.
With that, we’ll see you next week for some more Hidden Spirituality!
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