Friday, June 22, 2012

"Fearless" (1993)

Most people think of mystical experiences as the province of monks or gurus, people who spend countless hours in prayer and meditation. They are wrong. Each of us is meant to experience God, in the minutiae of life, as well as its grandest events. And contrary to popular opinion, God is not a carnival barker. The truly mystical are not freak supernatural occurrences like burning bushes, angels, or booming voices from the clouds, but rather the most sublimely ordinary of things.

"It’s that little piece of you that gets caught up in the drama of life, the drama of nature, the drama of history. That feeling in the back of your throat that you are part of something that you can’t quite grasp and yet you know is there. That just makes you want to cry because it’s so big and bold and beautiful. That makes you want to scream out in joy and ecstasy, thanksgiving and praise for being a part of it. In that moment, in that very moment, whether it lasts a second or a lifetime, you know that you have touched the face of the divine."

"It feels like you’re standing still and the whole world is rushing by at mach one. Your adrenaline is pumping so hard you have to scream out for joy and laugh hysterically like an insane person. It’s a feeling of such intensity, that it seems like you have an orchestra in your head, building up to a grand crescendo, then crashing down like a tsunami, washing away every impurity in your soul and leaving you awestruck as if seeing for the first time."

The movie "Fearless" is the best representation of a mystical experience that I know of. Jeff Bridges plays Max, an airplane crash survivor who has discovered "the taste and touch and beauty of life," but struggles to make sense of that vision in the context of everyday living. He seems crazy to those around him, but how do you incorporate an experience of the divine into life in the "real" world? Once you see the face of God, the superficiality of modern society becomes unbearable, and the beauty of what lies beneath is overwhelming. How exactly do you deal with that?

The final sequence, showing the actual crash, is the most beautiful piece of cinema that I have ever watched. Those five minutes seem to encapsulate the taste, touch, and beauty of life, death, family, God, and love. Max walks down the center aisle of the plane to sit with a boy traveling by himself. As they brace for impact, he tells the boy, "close your eyes ... it'll be over soon ... everything's wonderful." His eyes make the meaning of his words clear: whether they live or die, in that moment everything truly is wonderful. That is mysticism in its rawest form.

Check out this movie on IMDb, Wikipedia, or YouTube.