“Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world and in here is the dream.”
~Jake Sully, Avatar
The movie Avatar is action packed, drama filled, and best of all has an excellent story line with meaning. I didn’t know anything about what the movie was based on, but it looked intriguing so I decided to go see it. And, man was I impressed. If you haven’t seen the movie then this entry might be a little confusing to follow, but I hope you give it a read anyway! I don’t want to give the whole story-line away, so I’m not saying what specific characters do. Honestly this entry only grazes the surface, but I wanted to point out some of the things that stood out most profoundly to me. (My favorite part is the Soul/Body discussion.) Please comment and discuss your views of the movie. I’d love to hear what you think! (It’s fine to discuss specific events and characters in the comment section since other readers can just skip reading the comments if they haven’t seen the movie yet).
Focus on the Planet as a Mother: One of the most obvious spiritual dynamics in Avatar is the native peoples’ belief in their deity. The planet of Pandora is inhabited by the Na’vi people and their deity is Eywa. Eywa is the living consciousness of the planet, the energy that permeates all things, creatures and people. The Great Mother. Eywa connects all things and keeps the balance of life.
The roots of the plants and trees have an advanced network of roots that allows them to communicate with each other. Most amazingly, the Na’vi can literally “tune in” to the planet through a physical link. Every Na’vi has what looks like a sea-anemonea like extension that comes out of the end of their hair braid. They can connect this extension to certain trees that act as “download” points on the planet. Two such tress mentioned in the movie are the Tree of Voices and the Tree of Souls. At the tree of Voices the Na’vi can hear the memories and voices of their ancestors. Even though the bodies have passed away, their spirits return to Eywa and therefore never truly leave the Na’vi People. The Tree of Souls is the place where the People can connect directly to Eywa.
The Na’vi are also able to connect with animals in the same way. The animals have the same tentacle extension that the Na’vi do, allowing them to form a bond. When the bond is established between Na’vi and animal, the Na’vi is able to communicate telepathically with the animal.
Soul/Body Differentiation: Now this is the part that I LOVE. The movie Avatar clearly illustrates that we are a soul, not a body. The body houses the essence of who you are and allows you to have the experience of talking, moving, etc. But that is not who you are. YOU are a soul. When you leave your body you do not cease to exist, you merely leave behind your physical form.
In order to properly discuss this, I’m going to have to give some of the key points of the movie away!
First lets look at the significance of the movie name. I’m taking the definition from Wikepedia because I like how it’s explained. “In Hinduism, Avatar refers to a deliberate descent of a deity from heaven to earth, and is mostly translated into English as ‘incarnation’, but more accurately as ‘appearance’ or ‘manifestation'” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar). In the movie an avatar is a body that has been grown with a mixture of Na’vi and human DNA. A human can then “go into” his avatar body through a mental link. His human body lies immobile while his consciousness inhabits the avatar.
Of course this link is done through extremely advanced science. BUT THEN….the power of Eywa is used at the end of the movie to actually transfer the life of one person from their human body into their avatar body. The human body dies and soul moves into the avatar body.
This was just amazing for me to see in a movie. The differentiation between body and spirit couldn’t be made clearer!
There are so many other wonderful aspects of this movie that I’d love to discuss.
Please share your thoughts!