Reference to key concepts: Brahman atman maya, the path to self realisation and self realisation itself.
The beginning of this essay is this sentence. The author is constructing a paragraph to introduce the purpose of this essay. This is real as its being typed. But this essay in reality is a trial to understand reality, the self and self realisation in context to ideas discussed in class and by these following films; Bart Klever’s “The sea that thinks”, Herman Hesse’s “Siddharta” and G.V Iyer’s “Adi Shankaracharya, The philosopher“ , by making connections and parallel observations.
“We live in a circus of illusions”. But simultaneously there are various layers of reality in this world which are bound to a specific time and place. “The sea that thinks” illustrates this point as the focus shifts from the film itself, (which is meant to be perceived as real by the viewer) to the process by which it was constructed, which was real while it was being constructed. But this sequence we see was not real since it’s surreal and dreamy (water jets through the window), which we realize only in the next sequence, but we believed that the actor did not wake up for the camera on time in the first time. The film itself was just a show on TV.
I believed these illusions. Who is this I that believed these illusions? Why is the I important to understand reality?
“Everything is possible for our eyes, but our brain says it’s impossible. It creates ideas about what we see, about what we think we are.”- Sea that thinks.
There is a certain amount of processing done to the raw input we receive through our senses. We experience the world through the brain which constructs meanings and feelings. This processed image is then displayed as the world in which we belong, where we identify ourselves with the character which appears in the” I” as ourselves, where “I” is a TV or a possibility for these processed images to appear. To be in reality we need to be the real self, what is this self?
Is the real The Atman as per Vedic texts (or the individual self) and reality the Brahman (the universal self). But then paradoxes arises which do not permit us from understanding true reality in a mental level and the chattering mind which creates these false selves quiets down which could result in enlightenment. The film “Sea that thinks” suggests that this cannot be achieved mentally meanwhile Adi Shankara suggests knowledge as the powerful tool with which one arrives at an understanding to experience true reality and that too knowledge on oneself.
“What do I think I am?” Am I student, am I an artist? Am I an idea? I cannot be an idea because if we were a thought we would be gone with that thought.
The Upanishads suggests the image of the crow and pigeon to understand self. The crow is the symbol of the body or the doer and the pigeon the passive observer or the atman. The sea that thinks suggests a complex play of ideas to understand self. It explores the fallacy in thinking of I as a means to understand oneself. The same amount of processing by the mind as mentioned earlier happens in trying to see or think up “I”. Emptying the mind is not an answer either since the trial to empty the mind is done by that I.
We assume what we are. The story of the sea from Bart Klever’s film talks about a sea which believed that it’s a tree. The story of the tree which fails to realise that it is in the forest refers to the same idea referring to concepts of Brahman and Maya. The sea becomes unhappy after it assumes to be a tree. It wanted to be happy as it used to be. It wanted to turn back into water. It could be only achieved if it let go of the assumption that it’s a tree. We assume our individual self as separate entities and fail to see the beauty in dissolving and identifying as the reality or as the Brahman, which implies that” I” do not exist separately, but as a whole.
There is a common process through which each character moves into self realisation. There is a struggle to seek enlightenment. Sidharata questions his existence and sets out on journey with the ascetics. His frustration leads to a new journey alone. He experiences worldly pleasures. But dissatisfaction arises and he continues his quest. He lets go of his ego and goals and learns to live in the present. He attains a sense of freedom and radiates love to all existence around him. The core idea here is the act of renunciation but not a complete deletion of oneself.
Meanwhile Adi Shankaracharya and Bart, after series of sufferings and obstacles reach a stage of self deletion. Adi Shankaracharya manages detach himself from his body and dissolve his atman into eternity and Brahman. Meanwhile there are visual clues which suggest that Bart also detaches from his vehicle or his body into an empty stretch of sand or Brahman. An act of renunciation by letting go of his script denotes his final path to salvation. This final stage is suggested as true reality where the self dissolves into the infinite pool of Brahman where nothing can be added or subtracted.
We go about following the lives that we lead because we believe in the false rewards that the false “I” receive. We believe in illusions and we assume that we are that “I”. A dog chews on the broken bone which cuts his gums which begin to bleed. The dog believes that it was a juicy bone and bites further into it cutting his gums deeper. This cyclic process fails to terminate since the exit is only attained by awareness which results in the total dissolution to a greater truth.