Art of Living Experiences, Movies to Watch.

Cloud Atlas, both the film scripted by The Wachowskis (The Matrix Trilogy) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), and the book by David Mitchell, have so much to offer from excitement to dire prediction, from brilliant story-telling to deep knowledge.


Source: Warner Bros

For one, watching the film on the big screen was a roller-coaster ride of an experience in itself. When I wasn’t one hundred percent engrossed and present, it was because I was reflecting on the fact that I was so captured (enraptured) by the film, that I didn’t have time or the inclination to stop to think or analyse. Waste of time (mind) you say?  I agree!

Having read the book first, I had great expectations!  Ah… but these are fun aren’t they?  A line in the book that tickled me didn’t feature in the film.  One of the heroines, Sonmi, reveals that she succeeded in downloading the works of “two Optimists… Orwell and Huxley.”  Either the author is enjoying delicious irony, as here we have two of our most famous (Western) dystopian writers, or we are to believe that their texts have been rewritten.  In any case, to explore dystopia such as in Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four or Cloud Atlas, can also become a practice in seeing present (and possible future) injustices for what they are, and heeding the warnings of those who speak the “True True”.


Source: Warner Bros

Being a part of the Art of Living, being in the company of Truth, makes me think sometimes, that I am not only lucky, but rather carrying a burden, i.e. that I must be part of the solutions and that I must help improve something.  What is that something?  Well for one, there is that seed inside that says “things are not OK”.  Are we just to burn this seed? For me, we are to work tirelessly in the ‘real world’ on behalf of the Good, the Truth, the Just, the Beautiful (i.e. the Earth).  In the film, we are reminded (by the same actor who plays Agent Smith in The Matrix Trilogy, and again plays one of two ‘evil spirits’ who show up in the six stories of the film) that on the one hand, one’s life is “no more than one drop in a limitless ocean.”  However, we learn from our heroes that our little lives in any case have meaning as they are inseparable from the whole:  “Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”

ewing poisoned

Source: Warner Bros

In the review of the film Siddhartha in The Art of Living blog, dated 4 Nov 2012, we read that “Just as the water of the river flows into the ocean and is returned by rain, all forms of life, their birth and death are interconnected in a timeless and infinite cycle.” The same message pervades Cloud Atlas.  Many of the actors play six different characters, in six distinct periods of time, as they reincarnate into lives that can not be separated from their previous (or future) ones.  Viewers (can) enjoy an incredibly creative insight into the twists and turns of Karma, in which the villain in one epoch is the hero in another.  Naturally, this reminds me as well of the Bill Murray character in Groundhog Day. Similarly, except on a very different timescale, by the sixth reincarnation (and story), the Tom Hanks character has transformed from murderous thief to superhero.  We are reminded that our every action has repercussions.

cloud atlas

Source: Warner Bros

Not only do we return again and again to act out our dramas, as we “cross and recross our old tracks like figure skaters,” the whole play of existence and all its actors are apart of us and we are apart of everything.  We learn from one of our heroes in the film that “our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present.  And by each crime, and every kindness, we birth our future.” This gives me an incredible sense of the meaningfulness of it all, and of my own life, as it is wrapped up in everyone else’s, throughout time.  And thus, as Hugo Weaving reports in an interview about the film, an inner strength wells up: “the sense of having the courage to stand up and be who you are.”  As well, this line made me ponder on the nearness of the written words, womb and tomb. Does the one lead to the other? If so, then where is the place for fear of death?  There isn’t any surely!

cloud atlas image

Source: Warner Bros

While Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, our spiritual master in the Art of Living, espouses “total acceptance and celebration of life,” I can’t help but to see and to sometimes overly dwell on the negative that I see in the world. I’ll leave you with one more quote from the book, a tribute to irony and the dystopians already mentioned:  “Our will to power, our science, and those [very] faculties that elevated us from apes, to savages, to modern man, are the same faculties that’ll snuff out Homo sapiens before this century is out!” In light of the planet’s current trajectory (climate change heating out of control, a never-ending war footing), it’s perhaps easy to agree with this negative prognosis for our collective future.  However, we have some ‘tricks’ to fight against this dark possibility: Sudarshan Kriya, Knowledge, the Master, in short, The Art of Living.  My goals for 2013 are to constantly remind myself about these positives and thus, hopefully, not to help the negative to manifest.

Meronym in Cloud Atlas

Source: Warner Bros

Patanjali Yoga Sutra.

4.1 janmau ‘adhi mantra tapa samādhijā siddhaya

Psychic powers arise by birth, drugs, incantations, purificatory acts or concentrated insight.

4.2 jāty antara pariāma praktyā ‘pūrāt

Transformation into another state is by the directed by the quality with which one’s whole being is saturated

4.3 nimitta aprayojaka praktīnā varaa bhedas tu tata ketrikavat

Creative nature is not moved into action by any incidental cause, but by the removal of obstacles, as in the case of a farmer clearing his field of stones for irrigation.

4.4 nirmāa cittāny asmitā mātrāt

Created minds arise from egoism alone.

4.5 pravtti bhede prayojaka citta ekam anekeā

There being difference of interest, one mind is the director of many minds.

4.6 tatra dhyānajam anāśaya

Of these, the mind born of concentrated insight is free from the impressions.

4.7 karmā ‘śuklā ‘kṛṣṇa yoginas trividham itareā

The impressions of unitive cognition are neither good nor bad. In the case of the others, there are three kinds of impressions.

4.8 tatas tad vipākā ‘nuguānā evā ‘bhivyakttir vāsanānā

From them proceed the development of the tendencies which bring about the fruition of actions.

4.9 jāti deśa kāla vyavahitānā apy ānantarya smti saskārayor eka rūpatvāt

Because of the magnetic qualities of habitual mental patterns and memory, a relationship of cause and effect clings even though there may be a change of embodiment by class, space and time.

4.10 tāsā anāditva cā ‘śio nityatvāt

The desire to live is eternal, and the thought-clusters prompting a sense of identity are beginningless.

4.11 hetu phalā ‘śrayā ‘labanaih samghītatvād eāmabhāve tad abhāva

Being held together by cause and effect, substratum and object- the tendencies themselves disappear on the dissolution of these bases.

4.12 hetu phalā ‘śrayā ‘labanaih samghītatvād eāmabhāve tad abhāva

The past and the future exist in the object itself as form and expression, there being difference in the conditions of the properties.

4.13 te vyaktta sūksmā guātmana

Whether subtle or obvious they are of the nature of the attributes.

4.14 pariāmai ‘katvād vastu tattva

Things assume reality because of the unity maintained within that modification.

4.15 vastu sāye citta bhedāt tayor vibhaktta panthā

Even though the external object is the same, there is a difference of cognition in regard to the object because of the difference in mentality.

4.16 na cai ‘ka cittatantra vastu tad apramāaka tadā ki syāt

And if an object known only to a single mind were not cognized by that mind, would it then exist?

4.17 tad uparāgā ‘pekitvāc cittasya vastu jñātā ‘jñāta

An object is known or not known by the mind, depending on whether or not the mind is colored by the object.

4.18 sadā jñātāś citta vttayas tat prabho puruasyā ‘pariāmitvāt

The mutations of awareness are always known on account of the changelessness of its Lord, the indweller.

4.19 na tat svābhāsa dśyatvāt

Nor is the mind self-luminous, as it can be known.

4.20 ekasamaye co ‘bhayā ‘navadhāraa

It is not possible for the mind to be both the perceived and the perceiver simultaneously.

4.21  cittā ‘ntara dśye buddhi buddher atiprasaga smti sakaraś ca

In the case of cognition of one mind by another, we would have to assume cognition of cognition, and there would be confusion of memories.

4.22 citer apratisakramāyās tad ākārā ‘pattau sva buddhi savedana

Consciousness appears to the mind itself as intellect when in that form in which it does not pass from place to place.

4.23 draṣṭṛ dśyo ‘paraktta citta sarvārtha

The mind is said to perceive when it reflects both the indweller (the knower) and the objects of perception (the known).

4.24 tad asakhyeya vāsanābhiś citram api parārtha sahatyakāritvāt

Though variegated by innumerable tendencies, the mind acts not for itself but for another, for the mind is of compound substance.

4.25 viśea darśina ātmabhāva bhāvanā vinivtti

For one who sees the distinction, there is no further confusing of the mind with the self.

4.26 tadā vivekanina kaivalya prāgbhāra citta

Then the awareness begins to discriminate, and gravitates towards liberation.

4.27 tac chidreu pratyayā ‘ntarāi saskārebhya

Distractions arise from habitual thought patterns when practice is intermittent.

4.28  hānam eā kleśavad uktta

The removal of the habitual thought patterns is similar to that of the afflictions already described.

4.29 prasakhyāne ‘py akusīdasya sarvathā viveka khyāter dharma megha

To one who remains undistracted in even the highest intellection there comes the equalminded realization known as The Cloud of Virtue. This is a result of discriminative discernment.

4.30 tata kleśa karma nivtti
From this there follows freedom from cause and effect and afflictions.

4.31 tadā sarvā ‘varaa malāpetasya jñānasyā ‘nantyāj jñeyam alpa

The infinity of knowledge available to such a mind freed of all obscuration and property makes the universe of sensory perception seem small.

4.32 tata ktārthānā pariāmakrama samāptir guānā

Then the sequence of change in the three attributes comes to an end, for they have fulfilled their function.

4.33 kaa pratiyogī pariāmā ‘parānta nirgrāhya krama

What is regarded as continuous succession is  only  a  series  of individual and
independent moments. When the last moment is not apprehended  as  being  part  of  a
continuum, the false notion of succession and therefore of time comes to an end.

4.34 puruārtha śūnyānā guānā prati prasava kaivalya svarūpa pratiṣṭhā vā citiśakttir iti

When the attributes cease mutative association with awarenessness, they resolve into dormancy in Nature, and the indweller shines forth as pure consciousness. This is absolute freedom.


Patanjali Yoga Sutras Home : Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4

Patanjali Yoga Sutra.

3.27 candre tārā vyūha jñāna

By self-control on the Polestar arises knowledge of orbits.

3.28 dhruve tad gati jñāna 

By self-control on the navel arises knowledge of the constitution of the body.

3.29 nābhi cakre kāya vyūha jñāna

By self-control on the pit of the throat one subdues hunger and thirst.

3.30 kaṇṭhakūpe kut pipāsā nivtti

By self-control on the tube within the chest one acquires absolute steadiness.

3.31 kūrma nā sthairya

By self-control on the light in the head one envisions perfected beings.

3.32  mūrdha jyotii siddha darśana

There is knowledge of everything from intuition.

3.33 prātibhād vā sarva

Self-control on the heart brings knowledge of the mental entity.

3.34 hdaye citta savit

Experience arises due to the inability of discerning the attributes of vitality from the indweller, even though they are indeed distinct from one another. Self-control brings true knowledge of the indweller by itself.

3.35 sattva puruayor atyantā ‘sakīrayo pratyayā ‘viśeo bhoga
parārthatvāt svārtha sa
yamāt purua jñāna

This spontaneous enlightenment results in intuitional perception of hearing, touching, seeing and smelling.

3.36 tata prātibha śrāvaa vedanā ‘darśā ‘svāda vārtā jāyante

To the outward turned mind, the sensory organs are perfections, but are obstacles to realization.

3.37 te samādhāv upasargā vyutthāne siddhaya

When the bonds of the mind caused by action have been loosened, one may enter the body of another by knowledge of how the nerve-currents function.

3.38 bandha kāraa śaithilyāt pracāra savedanāc ca cittasya para śarīrā ‘veśa

By self-control of the nerve-currents utilising the lifebreath, one may levitate, walk on water, swamps, thorns, or the like.

3.39 udāna jayāj jala paka kaṇṭakādiv asaga utkrāntiś ca

By self-control over the maintenance of breath, one may radiate light.

3.40 samāna jayāj jvalana

By self-control on the relation of the ear to the ether one gains distant hearing.

3.41  śrotrā ‘kāśayo sabandha sayamād divya śrotra

By self-control over the relation of the body to the ether, and maintaining at the same time the thought of the lightness of cotton, one is able to pass through space.

3.42 kāyā ‘kāśayo sabandha sayamāl laghu tūla samāpatteś cā ‘kāśa gamana

By self-control on the mind when it is separated from the body- the state known as the Great Transcorporeal- all coverings are removed from the Light.

3.43 bahir akalpitā vttir mahā videhā tata prakāśā ‘varaa kaya

Mastery over the elements arises when their gross and subtle forms,as well as their essential characteristics, and the inherent attributes and experiences they produce, is examined in self-control.

3.44 sthūla svarūpa sūkmā ‘nvayārthavattva sayamād bhūta jaya

Thereby one may become as tiny as an atom as well as having many other abilities, such as perfection of the body, and non-resistence to duty.

3.45 tato ‘imādi prādur bhāva kāya sapat tad dharmā ‘nabhighātaś ca

Perfection of the body consists in beauty, grace, strength and adamantine hardness.

3.46 rūpa lāvaya bala vajrasahananatvāni kāya sapat

By self-control on the changes that the sense-organs endure when contacting objects, and on the power of the sense of identity, and of the influence of the attributes, and the experience all these produce- one masters the senses.

3.47 grahaa svarūpā ‘smitā ‘nvayārthavattva sayamād indriya jaya

From that come swiftness of mind, independence of perception, and mastery over primoridal matter.

3.48 tato manojavitva  vikaraabhāva pradhāna jayaś ca

To one who recognizes the distinctive relation between vitality and indweller comes omnipotence and omniscience.

3.49 sattva puruā ‘nyatā khyātimātrasya sarva bhāvā ‘dhiṣṭhāttva sarva      jñāttva ca

Even for the destruction of the seed of bondage by desirelessness there comes absolute independence.

3.50 tad vairāgyād api doa bīja kaye kaivalya

When invited by invisible beings one should be neither flattered nor satisfied, for there is yet a possibility of ignorance rising up.

3.51 sthāny upanimantrae saga smayā ‘karaa punar aniṣṭa prasagāt

By self-control over single moments and their succession there is wisdom born of discrimination.

3.52  jāti lakaa deśair anyatā ‘navacchedāt tulyayos tata pratipatti

From that there is recognition of two similars when that difference cannot be distinguished by class, characteristic or position.

3.53  ḥtārakaṁ sarva viṣayaṁ sarvathā viṣayaṁ akramaṁ ce ‘ti vivekajaṁ jñānaṁ

Intuition, which is the entire discriminative knowledge, relates to all objects at all times, and is without succession.

3.54 sattva puruayo śuddhisāye kaivalya  

Liberation is attained when there is equal purity between vitality and the indweller.


Patanjali Yoga Sutras Home : Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4