The best thing about the movie Avatar is the reminder -- in a pop culture way -- that each of us is plodding along on this earth in our individual avatars.
Sanskrit for "descent," "avatar" refers to an intentional journey of a deity from heaven to earth. Translated into English as "incarnation," it means an "appearance" or "manifestation."
Avatar is a movie of modern, mythical proportion with substantial insights that come at an axial moment in human consciousness. From the moment Jake Sully, a paraplegic former Marine, rises up on his extended, whole, avatar limbs and runs at breakneck speed into Pandora's lush vegetation, we become avatar believers.
Pandora is a bioluminescent habitat -- everything radiating light. At the core is the Tree of Souls, an interconnected root system which produces an intelligent, unified nervous system. James Cameron describes it as "a big input-output station," capable of conveying souls from one body to another.
As mechanistic paradigms are giving place to Gaia and chaos theory, space is being created for a here-to-fore unseen sensitivity to the ecological ethics of Mother Nature. Chi, the field of human energy, and auras, seen by those more finely-tuned to luminescence -- are just now being recognized and measured by science.
And yes, interspecies communication is possible. Energy is the penultimate translator. All living things are energy -- even sentient matter is energetic -- like crystals -- which 'grow' for millions of years. On Pandora, mental telepathic powers are used to communicate with animals and plant species.
The fundamental ethos of Eywa, the Na'vi deity, is balance in nature -- not one force over another. Death is not feared on Pandora, but seen as one step in the eternality of life...echoes of Buddhist and Christian principle on planet earth that living well includes dying well.
But perhaps most important in the movie Avatar is the avatar concept itself: that consciousness shifts from amorphous space to finite body. Filmmakers have mined this metaphysical treasure trove with movies like What Dreams May Come, The Matrix, 21 Grams, Michael, Celestine Prophecy, Whale Rider...to name but a few.
It took a blockbuster movie like Avatar to capture and translate to pop culture the potency of the ancient Hindi greeting, Namaste -- "the Divinity within me perceives and adores the Divinity within you."
"I see you," spoken by the Na'vi can be a transformative shift in human relations if only we remember to see beyond the avatars we each embody, to the heart and soul within.
It didn't sweep the Academy Awards -- but its message takes a rightful place in the media record of human evolution. "I see you," "Avatar," and raise you in thanks.
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