The Oscars and The Big Picture
By Chintana Ahlund
Published on 03/8/2010
Each moment promises the potential to see the big picture. Let us all celebrate the Oscars, the movies, the actors, and the practice of self realization with some popcorn!

The crowd of nightgowns and tuxedos cheered as my husband and I sat on the edges of our couch cushions clapping.

Penelope Cruz annonced the winner in the “Actor in a Supporting Role” category: Christoph Waltz!

Waltz was Col. Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s highest grossing movie to date, Inglorious Basterds. My husband and father-in-law described Col. Hans Landa as an evil character cloaked in utmost civility. The cunning, cold and charming colonel at first seems doggedly loyal to hunting down Jews for the Nazi party. But later you learn that the sadistic “Jew Hunter” is yet just another selfish, egotistical human being who believes that his relentless wit can save him from life’s strange twists and turns.

“What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none.”

This is a line from one of the opening scenes in the movie made by Col. Hans Landa.

I find it tremendously insightful as you can easily associate the “rat” to the “ego.” Our conditioned minds instinctively resist the big picture: we are all buddhas.

Jetsuna Tenzin Palmo, one of the first westerners to become a Tibetan nun, teaches that “everything is a projection of the mind… that one of the first things to realize is that our minds are untamed. The Buddha compared an ordinary mind with a wild elephant in rut.”

In her book, Reflections on a Mountain Lake, she offers buddhist teachings that are simple, striking and boiled down for every earnest, hard-headed human being. There is a series of questions and answers at the end of each chapter. Chapter 8 discusses awareness and ends with the following insights:

“We are each living within our own projections… everybody sees things with their own interpretations. We are all projecting our own movie. When we no longer have a physical base, after the death of the body, our mind will create the seeming external appearances. Therefore, it is important to write a good script while we have the chance, because we are going to be fully involved in the movie afterwards!”

When we meditate, we practice cultivating awareness of the ultimate truth: all we have is what is in front us, now. What is happening now is it. If we lose the moment because we are preoccupied, then we lose the moment forever. Just tuning into the moment is enough. It is all there is to know. It is all that exists. This is a simple, eternal truth.

As Tenzin Palmo states, “It’s not spectacular. It’s not lights, music and bliss. But it will transform your life.”

While we must learn to study and aid the mind, we must not believe and identify with it. It is important to understand that the unconditioned mind, the essence of the Self, is the state of being both universal and individual at the same time. The Buddha offered great insight when he said, “I too use conceptualization, but I am no longer fooled by it.”

Every time we go to the movies, we must be reminded of how analagous the action is to viewing the projection of our minds in this lifetime. Tenzin Palmo encourages us to use the big white screen as a lesson for learning about our own Buddha nature.

When we sit in theatres, our senses transfixed on the drama, we are engrossed in the actors, plot and emotions that are evoked. We momentarily believe in the movie as a form of reality. If we were to shift our attention past the movie, we would see the light coming through the projector. The details being depicted on screen is a two dimensional image coming from a fast moving series of transparent frames.

Meditation helps us put the big picture in focus. The frames are equivalent to our mind moments which form a fast moving chain of illusions. When the chain falls apart, we are able to see the light enabling the projection. This is the source of the Self. With this subtle, higher knowledge, we can then still watch and enjoy the movie. However, we no longer define it as reality and enjoy it as a play of consciousness.

Each moment promises the potential to see the big picture. Let us all celebrate the Oscars, the movies, the actors, and the practice of self realization with some popcorn!