Double Take

'When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find peace of mind is waiting there. And the time will come when you see we're all one, and life flows on within you and without you – George Harrison


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A Step Beyond (and my thoughts on the film Her) by Rowena J Ronson

A Step Beyond (and my thoughts on the film Her) by Rowena J Ronson

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There is something so inspiring about an excellent script beautifully portrayed by exceptional actors. When I know that one of my favourites is starring in a new film I get very excited at the prospect of losing myself in the characters and really being taken in and over. I saw that Joaquin Phoenix was the protagonist in Her in 2014, but only just had a chance to watch it – and he did not disappoint.

His vulnerability is so believable and appealing that I was mesmerised, even within the opening scenes. And this same energy was something of a parallel process within the film too.

To cut to the chase, as our technology encourages these days, a personalised program is created, an artificial intelligence, aptly named ‘OS’, or operating system. With the gender of your choice, she, in this case, speaks and interacts with you as if she were a person at the end of a phone. She can think, feel, communicate and learn but she doesn’t have a physical form and obviously is not human. This actually reminded me of modern relationships reliant on modern technology!

Also unlike a real person in a 21st-century relationship, with all the many distractions that fill our lives, the OS ‘operates’ by being 100% present all of the time. Dedicated to its ‘operator’, it becomes the closest friend you could imagine – one who listens and loves you unconditionally and only wants the best for you, but at the same time has no limitations, no stuckness and a boundless ability to evolve.

I could see the appeal of having this kind of connection. It seems almost cleaner and more real when compared with meeting someone through the same medium, a dating site on a computer, because on that forum we have no clue about the person’s history, their intentions and their ability to be present and connect deeply.

The film shows many scenes of people walking along the streets having their own conversations and experiences with their OS, and not connecting to others at all. But it was also interesting to see all of them smiling and seeming truly happy. Phoenix’s character Theo’s OS, Samantha (with Scarlett Johansson’s deliciously dulcet tones) develops her relationship with Theo while nurturing one with herself. She knows clearly that it is important to have her own needs met and so she role-models the perfect scenario where she is communicative, caring and supportive, and also really clear about her own personal development and what her needs are from life and from her relationship with Theo.

But what happens if we keep evolving and being open to the lessons we can learn from our experiences? What happens if we do not feel we are limited to just this lifetime and what we imagine this lifetime to be from our limited perspective? What would happen if we allow ourselves not to be limited? What journey could we go on then? What would it take to create that shift in paradigm?

The answers to these questions came for me in this film and I hope I have said enough for you to watch it and let me know what you think. I was not disappointed and I have woken this morning feeling my mind’s unlimited potential if allowed to tap into my higher self, my purpose and universal connectedness.

There was a message for me in the film about not being limited by relationships and the importance of developing the relationship with ourselves, and beyond, with the universe. Amy Adams’s character at one point in the film speaks of the socially acceptable temporary insanity of falling in love. I liked the way she phrased that and I am sure we can all relate to that amazing sensation of freedom when we surrender to our feelings and chemicals, when we can truly experience that open space within and our ability to connect with another and with ourselves.

Falling in love does feel like we have opened the door to another dimension. The film also illustrated the power of interdependence and how are relationships are real and beautiful, but in the spaces in between, when we are not connecting with people, we have the potential to connect with ourselves and with the universe.

Her is a thought-provoking piece which, because I was open to its resonance, has internally created a shift in my consciousness, and for that I am grateful.

From now on, I want to be open to the other dimensions that are clearly here but which we have trained ourselves not to see, and I am truly excited about the potential of this journey.

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Talking About Our Shadow by Rowena J Ronson and Nigel Summerley

Talking About Our Shadow by Rowena J Ronson and Nigel Summerley

Behind You by Rowena J RonsonBehind You by Rowena J Ronson

NS: “Immigration” has become an issue in the UK with the rise of the UK Independence Party, and with an apparent contest between the political parties to be the toughest on immigration. But what does this mean? And this anxiety, fear and sometimes hysteria about immigration is nothing new, is it? In some form or other it seems that “immigration” is an issue in most parts of the world. What is this really about?

RJR: I would say it is about our ‘shadow’. All our emotions, our lost parts of ourselves that we are repressing, we project on to ‘immigrants’ who we see are the predators who are out to get us and threaten our security.

NS: Do we do this only to immigrants? Do we not do this to a degree to other people generally? Or is it somehow easier – and more “acceptable” – to do it in relation to immigrants, since it can be dressed up in some sort of rationale about taking away employment opportunities and/or being a drain on public services?

RJR: I agree with all you have said. I believe we do this generally but when it comes to immigrants, people can feel it is justified because ‘they’ are taking from ‘us’.

NS: But what is the barrier to our seeing everyone as human beings like ourselves. Do we have an innate fear of anyone who is not ‘us’? Do we think these ‘others’ are evil in some way? I think what I’m getting at is: is this perhaps the most fundamental human problem – our inability to accept others, and work together for the common good?

RJR: I do think we have an innate fear of anyone who is not ourselves. I think that without that fear response built into our brains, we would not have been able to survive and thrive as we have in this world. We are all capable of all behaviours and emotions but I think it is easier to identify evil in others than own it ourselves. I think it is not just a problem that we don’t accept others – I think we don’t accept ourselves.

NS: So the immigrants really are a scapegoat – for ourselves? We identify in them the things that we hate about ourselves – but can’t bring ourselves to acknowledge that those things are within us? My feeling is that you are right about this. So is the solution (if there is one) to accept our shortcomings – and our ability to behave badly?

RJR: I think the solution is to accept that we are all capable of all emotions and behaviours, on a 360 degrees spectrum. And the more we accept ourselves and acknowledge all parts of ourselves and in particular the many feelings we put into our shadow, the more likely we will be able to own those feelings. And in turn we will all individually take more responsibility and blame others less, and feel the universal connectedness that is within and without us. The more self aware and spiritual we become, the more able we are to see another as one of our own.

NS: I don’t want to get sidetracked into a discussion of religion. But it is interesting that some of the most intense intolerance is religion-based, eg Christian antipathy to Muslims – and Muslim antipathy to Christians. What you have said seems to be wise and full of sense. So is “immigration” an issue in the UK and in many, many other countries because those countries (and their peoples) are so lacking in self-awareness and spirituality? And if that is the case, what hope or way forward is there?

RJR: I wish I could answer that question!! I also wonder if it is just about religion. The comments I hear from people are usually on what we highlighted at the start of this dialogue…. that immigrants will take from us. I think it boils down to fear and I think people are quite attached to that emotion…. what do you think?

NS: I think fear pervades our thinking far more than we are willing to acknowledge. And some of that fear – as you have suggested – is fear of our own shadow selves, which we project onto others. So perhaps our fear and antipathy towards the ‘immigrant’ is not fear of ‘the other’ but fear of our real selves.