Love as real as an avatar

Part Three of a three-part series

I apologize for the extended pause. Now, back to our other-worldly love story…

I recently stumbled upon a really cool nail salon in Chicago’s South Loop—a yummy combination of great price ($35 mani-pedi) and elegant decor. And the pièce de résistance: “Sex and the City” DVDs play non-stop. Take your time with those nails, please!

Yesterday’s encore episode was about judgment—more accurately, about being judgmental. It reminded me that practically every human being on Earth judges others, and it’s always based on superficial stuff: looks, job, bank account, race, religion, sexual orientation, whatever we decide is important.

Judging others is one of our favorite sports, and Ego is our defensive coach. No chump, Ego is as resilient and relentless as its invincible cousin, the roach, and apparently as ubiquitous. Wherever it goes, judgment tags along. The pair has been spotted as far away as the fictitious planet Pandora, a gaseous moon inhabited by the Na’vi, a peculiar looking breed of humanoids. (But who’s judging?)

Even on Pandora, eyes can be deceiving. Ask Neytiri, a young Na’vi maiden from the Omaticaya tribe, who spotted someone in the lush forest. He appeared to be a kinsmen: Between 9′ and 12′ tall? Check. Blue-striped? Check. Jaundiced-eyed? Uh huh. From the Omaticaya tribe? Not so much.

Actually, he was an American named Jake Sully, an imposter, an avatar cloned to look like a tribesman. Instantly, Neytiri drew her bow and arrow, aimed, and prepared to shoot.

How many of us can relate to that? Who hasn’t hurled verbal or visual arrows at perceived enemies, hoping to pierce their hearts, shatter their egos and knock them to their knees (ideally, at our feet)? When we’ve gone that far, it ain’t easy to back off. And something seemed to be telling Neytiri to do just that.

Woodsprite dances on Neytiri's bow

Neytiri aims

She struggled as we do when our intuition tells us that we’re making a big mistake, and our ego is screaming, “Destroy!” Neytiri aimed again.

Suddenly, a Woodsprite—a seed from the revered Tree of Souls—landed on her arrow, then another and another. Puzzled, Neytiri paused. The wispy jellyfish-like Woodsprites then floated onto her target, the American interloper. She eased her grip on the bow. What was going on? She wondered.

By dispatching the Woodsprites, the Omaticaya’s Divine Spirit, known as “Eywa,” was sending Neytiri not only a powerful signal, but clear direction: Inside the avatar beats a heart that is pure.

On Pandora, a pure heart is revered. The body in which is beats—even if it is flawed—is precious. Neytiri backed off.

Unlike the Omaticaya, we don’t always receive visible clues when the Divine communicates with us. We typically have to listen for a still small voice that’s deep inside. Complicating matters, our egos insist that we should dig in our heels rather than admit that we have misjudged.

In this case, Neytiri decided to accept direction from the Divine, a decision that not only altered her life, but all life on Pandora. It was no mistake that Jake had been sent to Pandora instead of his twin brother. The eternal soul within Jake’s manufactured avatar and physical body had a destiny: Save Pandora from the American invaders. It had been his soul’s purpose since The Beginning.

Forced to spend more time together, Neytiri’s judgment of Jake, and his of her, gradually transformed into “namaste,” a Sanskrit word that means, “The God in me sees the God in you.” When they proclaimed to each other, “I see you,” they weren’t referring to visual sight. Physical eyes judge and separate. Real sight is magical: it sees the heart, the divinity, the true beauty and perfection of another.

Only those who understand that they are spirit—made in the image of God and having a temporary physical experience—can see the beauty and divinity within themselves. These are the only souls who are fearless enough and feel worthy enough to give and receive unconditional love—and can graciously release those who can’t.

After all, anyone can say, “I love you.” Few can say, “I see you.”

Eywa: Someone you should know

Part Two of a three-part series

Sitting here in the balcony, playing with the “Real 3D” glasses I received when I entered the movie theater to see “Avatar,” I am reminded again that each of us looks at Life through different lenses. Some lenses help us see things more brilliantly; others completely block the light.

My first reminder came earlier this week, when I discussed the movie with two friends. What did they think about it? I wondered.

One purred that “Avatar” was a beautiful love story: a man was willing to live the rest of his life on a distant moon, light years away from Earth, wearing a tail and no clothes, so that he could be with the woman he loved. The other friend ranted that the movie glorified the Messiah complex: a brave white man heroically swooped in and saved the black people underneath those blue striped costumes. OMG, was he agitated!

Of course, everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion. The Loud Mouth is no exception: From where I sat, “Avatar” was all about me. OK, ok! It was about you, too—a story about how we treat each other, our planet, and every living thing on it. To me, “Avatar” was about our relationship with the Allness that is God, or as the Na’vi, the blue striped black folk on the distant moon Pandora called it: Eywa.

The Na’vi people were taught that they could tap directly into Eywa and into all life forms because there was only One Source of all life, and everything and everyone was connected—from the most beautiful flower to the most ferocious beast. Of course, the Na’vi had a distinct advantage over us: Eywa was unmistakably present. They could literally see the Divine Source of all Life.

But what if Eywa, their Divine Source, was not visible to the naked eye? What if It vibrated at such a high frequency that It appeared to be invisible, like the individual blades on a fan rotating at high speed? Would they be as reverent and as certain that Eywa existed and that It was a benevolent power that served all, equally?

If the Na’vi couldn’t see Eywa’s full glory, feel Its peace and love, smell Its fragrance, hear Its song, or taste Its nectar, they might easily be convinced that Eywa was, well, anything someone told them It was.

Spinning tall tales has always been a favorite pastime of intelligent beings. Millennia before the advent of the entertainment industry, folks amused themselves by creating and spreading tales. Among the most popular: fantastic stories about gods that no one could see. Typically, these gods lived on top of mountains or beyond the clouds.

These tales fanned wild speculation about what each god looked like and what each of them did. Some reputedly worked for good, others for evil. Feeding on the imaginations of the illiterate naïve masses, these stories took on a life of their own. To this day, many believe them to be true.

Think about it: What if, for generations, the Omaticaya clan of Na’vis had been told that Eywa was a gigantic man who lived on a distant planet called Earth, and knew their every thought and deed? According the legend, Eywa spent all of His time recording the good and bad deeds of each Na’vi humanoid, rewarding good behavior with stuff such as sports victories and wealth, and punishing bad behavior with stuff such natural disasters, poor health and poverty.

What if the Na’vi believed that a wrath-filled Eywa would come to Pandora one day, guns blazing, accompanied by an army of fire-spitting angels? In an instant, He’d annihilate everyone who wasn’t perfect, totally obedient, or hadn’t professed aloud that Eywa was a barbaric bad-ass that should be feared.

You can imagine what would have happened when the gigantic metallic aircraft, bulging with guerilla warriors, noisily descended on the Omaticaya clan of Na’vis that fateful day. Most would have believed that it was Eywa, arriving in fulfillment of the legend. Petrified by His promise of destruction, mesmerized by the sheer size of the space ship, the robot-like “AMP” suits, and armed mercenaries, the Omaticayas would have fled their sacred land and the demonic missionaries from the American military-industrial complex would have carted off all Pandora’s rare and priceless unobtanium minerals.

What saved Pandora from that preemptive attack? Was it really the white guy, Jake Sully, as my friend insists? I don’t think so. Maybe it was Eywa, you say?

Actually, an insightful scene disputes that possibility. More important, it exposed humans’ naïveté about what the Divine is—and what it does. To me, that scene delivered one of the most life altering messages I’ve ever heard. It totally reframed the Divine—and definitively explained why prayers don’t seem to be answered 100% of the time for 100% of the people.

Remember the scene? Jake physically plugged directly into Eywa—into the Divine Itself—and asked for two things: 1) Save the life of Dr. Grace Augustine, who treasured the Omaticaya clan and had been seriously injured by gunfire, and 2) help in defeating the money-grubbing emissaries from the American military-industrial complex were intent upon forcing the Omaticaya clan off of Pandora’s sacred land.

Surely this intercessory prayer would be answered. Jake was asking Eywa to help the good people. The Na’vi had lived harmoniously with each other and with nature for centuries, and Grace Augustine had fought tenaciously to keep the Americans from disturbing that harmony, destroying the balance of nature on Pandora. Besides, Eywa had a vested interest in the preservation of this most sacred land, right? This should have been a slam dunk prayer.

Only humans who believe in God could relate to this scene—humans who, like Jake, believe that the Divine is a being (complete with gender) who can be convinced to do what we want. We act as if God is a wish-granting genie: If we ask “Him” a certain way, perform certain rituals, pay a certain amount of money, and believe with all our hearts that our prayers will be answered affirmatively, we will be blessed. God will grant our wishes.

It doesn’t work that way—on Earth or on Pandora. In this case, Grace the good, died. On Earth, despite our prayers, our loved ones die. We die. Millions of good people die. With every disappointment, we discover that God is not a genie and prayer is not a magic bullet; but we continue to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. And we encourage others to do the same.

Is there something we should know about God and about prayer that will help us understand them better? Perhaps, in that same scene, Jake’s beloved Neytiri revealed it, as she tried to manage his expectations of the outcome of his request: “Eywa does not take sides,” she explained. “Eywa only balances.”

On this side of the Universe, balance is called reaping and sowing. One rabbi phrased it, “Judge not, lest ye be judged, condemn not, lest ye be condemned…” In Loud Mouth vernacular: “Whatever you do will be done to you”—no more, no less. Balance.

Part one of Jake’s prayer request was not granted. What about the other half? The Na’vi did win the battle. Does that mean that Eywa blessed him or them? No, but it might look that way to those who think that God is a wish granting genie.

I think the Na’vi’s salvation was their awareness and belief that they were connected to every living thing. I think it was their respect for the role that every living thing plays in their eco-system and their ability to literally “hook up” with all the other life forms.

Understanding that they were one, everything—plants, trees, animals, Na’vi humanoids, flying beasts, you name it—worked collectively to ward off the enemy and restore peace, harmony and balance to their corner of the Universe. After their victory, did you notice that the Na’vi didn’t establish prison camps? They didn’t torture the invaders or turn them into prisoners of war.

The Na’vi understood harmony. They understood balance. They understood that the only way to avoid punishment and condemnation is not to punish and condemn. Most important, they understood Eywa—what It is and what It does.

That’s something we all should understand if we are to maintain peace and balance in our own lives. When we ask, in prayer, for everything to be resolved and balanced for the Highest Good of All concerned, we will get precisely what we asked for–EVERY time.

Are YOU an avatar?

By now, practically everyone has seen the blockbuster movie “Avatar.” The special effects, the lush rainforest foliage, the terrifying wildlife and the 3D experience were absolutely spectacular; if you saw the movie in an IMAX theater, even more awesome. But with all that visual stimulation, you might have overlooked the real beauty of this movie: You might not have recognized your own reality, cloaked as cinematic fantasy.

If you’re among those who believe that we are spirits having a physical experience, the symbolism in “Avatar” didn’t escape you. Just as the consciousness of characters Jake Sully and Dr. Grace Augustine shifted out of their human bodies into their avatars when their bodies slept, spiritual masters believe that our consciousness also leaves our physical bodies and enters other dimensions when we sleep. We perceive those other-worldly experiences as “dreams.”

Have you ever vividly remembered the sights and sounds of a dream experience, particularly a frightening, mysterious, exciting or joyful one? What if our dream experiences are just as “real” as our waking experiences?

What if we are avatars? By day, we “live” on planet Earth and by night, in a dimension where we can instantly transport ourselves through time and space by merely thinking? (You have noticed that you have that magical ability in your dreams, right?)

What if the only difference between us and the three avatar drivers on Pandora is that they were fully conscious of who they were, what they were doing and why they were doing it—and we are not? What if, like Jake Sully, our souls entered a tiny human avatar on this planet? Each soul had a specific and distinct mission—rarely as daunting as protecting a people and their way of life from ruthless invaders, but a mission that was significant to our souls’ evolutionary growth?

Unlike Sully, however, because we are not consciously aware of our true identity, we haven’t a clue why we’re here and what we came to accomplish in a finite period of time. That makes the Earth experience tremendously more challenging. Those who volunteer for its Avatar Program are nothing short of remarkable.

Heck, practically any trained warrior—even Jake Sully, who wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer—can use his ground combat training to outsmart bad guys and ferocious beasts. But what if Sully had no memory that he had been one of the few, the proud, the Marines?

Picture this: What if Sully’s genetically engineered avatar also came equipped with an ego and five senses that operated on a totally different frequency than his authentic Self, and it had free will to think and do anything it pleased? What if he didn’t have full control of his avatar’s thoughts or movements? With a scenario such as this, could he have survived that first night alone on Pandora?

If you aren’t seeing any parallels yet, let me ask you this: What if, instead of being open to the Na’vi people’s belief that every living thing is spiritually connected and supported, Sully adopted the beliefs and attitudes of his forceful ego and five senses? His ego insists that he is a separate and more superior life form—and that he has dominion over the other life forms. Could an ego-driven Jake Sully have saved Pandora’s indigenous Na’vi civilization and their sacred ground?

This isn’t a test. There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. The important thing is that you look behind the curtain of what we call real life, and examine all the possibilities and unborn potential in the props and characters lurking there.

Be creative! Tell your own story. Envision your physical body as a human avatar. Within it is an eternal life form that is part of and directly connected to the Source of all Life. It holds the answers to all your questions, is fully accessible to you 24/7, is infinitely patient, unconditionally loving, and totally forgiving.

Would your life be different if you initiated and nurtured a relationship with the all-knowing, eternal part of your being? What if you trusted it enough to surrender control of your avatar? Could you do that?

Close your eyes; take in the entire picture. Experience the vivid sights and sounds in “Real” 3D. What did your life look like when you relinquished control to the Source that we call God? How did your body feel? Were you breathing more deeply and feeling more peaceful because you trusted that God would always work out every situation in your best interest? Or were you tense and fearful? Was there a knot in your stomach because you (your ego-self ) was not in control of your body and your life?

Play with it. Have fun discovering more about yourself. I hope you’ll share your discoveries below. (If you want to remain anonymous, simply use initials–yours or someone else’s!)