The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
I’ve always thought that line of poetry a lovely sentiment. But, if it were ever proven true, there would be an awful lot of disappointed quantum physicists on the unemployment line.
Still, as dubious as some might find this claim, there must be something to it. After all, stories, especially meaningful ones, are often referred to as universal, a word that itself appears in the name of one of today’s largest film and entertainment companies.
So much for the atoms.
Ever since childhood, I have been fascinated by stories and storytelling, but I wanted more than just to read or hear the words. Becoming fully engrossed within a story was what I truly craved. In seeking to attain this personal Grail, I unwittingly found myself incredibly jealous of a most unlikely duo—the cheesy Claymation characters Gumby and Pokey. They had the enviable ability to walk through a book’s cover and right into a story, experiencing it as a firsthand, three-dimensional manifestation, the kind of direct immersion that I eagerly sought. But, because I lacked their kind of interdimensional dexterity, I needed to find an acceptable alternative, and I did so—in the movies.
For me, the movies are the next best thing to walking into a story and wandering around in it as though in some kind of holographic wonderland. And, with ever-improving advances in cinematic technology, the experience has become that much more heightened over the years. We may not be able to duplicate the feats of the little clay man and his sidekick pony, but we’re getting closer all the time.
Movies and I are old friends, going back almost as far as I can remember. One of the first films I saw that I recall vividly was the 1963 screwball comedy, “It’s aMad Mad Mad Mad World.” This big-budget, all-star-cast production from director Stanley Kramer was a manic, off-the-wall tour de force that left viewers with aching bellies after 2½ hours of virtually nonstop laughs. But there was nothing lightweight about this picture, despite it being a comedy. This madcap farce was meaty. It filled and shook the gut. It had substance. And it served to set my personal cinematic standard. From that point on, I always looked for movies that were substantive in nature, regardless of the genre, be they comedies, dramas, adventures, thrillers, sci-fi or whatever. There would be no fluff or froth for me.
With age, my fascination with the movies continued to grow. I attended ever more of them and even began to write about them, first for my high school newspaper and then in college at Syracuse University as features and reviews editor for The Daily Orange. In later years, I also wrote occasional pieces about film for other publications and audiences. But, even though the main focus of my writing life went in other directions, my love of motion pictures never wavered. And, even though movies have changed a lot over the years, my standards for them have not; those substantive expectations have persisted to this day.
As I grew into adulthood, I began to develop a second fascination, a budding interest in what I’ll loosely term “alternative spirituality.” My interest in this arose from a basic desire—to understand the world and my place in it, a need that I’m sure most of us can relate to on some level. My traditional Episcopalian upbringing provided few meaningful answers in this regard, ultimately proving to be a largely unsatisfying experience. Nevertheless, despite such religious dissatisfaction, I always had a strong, if vague, spiritual sense, a belief that there had to be something behind this thing we collectively call existence. But what was it? Clearly, I needed a catalyst of some kind to jump-start my stalled spiritual engine. And, ironically, that catalyst came to me at, of all places, the movies.
With the release of the first installment in the original “Star Wars” series in 1977, I became instantly and utterly captivated by the film’s concept of “the Force,” the mysterious unifying field of energy and consciousness that runs throughout the narrative’s universe and connects all things within it. “That,” I exclaimed upon my initial viewing, pointing at the screen and oblivious to the fact I’d dropped my Milk Duds, “is it! That’s what I’ve been looking for!” It was one of those grand “Aha!” moments, the kind that happens rarely but satisfies so supremely. Now this is not to suggest that I suddenly began walking around worshipping Sir Alec Guinness or parroting the film’s “May the Force be with you” mantra, but the movie’s core metaphysical concept served as the necessary spark to ignite the fire of a much larger process that has continued to this day, the quest to fill my spiritual void with a spiritual vision.
With the flame lit, I began my search for answers in earnest. My journey brought me into contact with a diverse range of disciplines, including metaphysics, philosophy, psychology and even cutting-edge science. In the end, I settled on one that harmoniously combined them all—conscious creation. This philosophy and practice resonated with me profoundly, providing a set of principles and a game plan with which to conduct my life. It gave me the kind of meaningful metaphysical substance I had long been looking for. In finding it, I felt as though I had come home, rediscovering an innate aspect of myself that I had somehow forgotten.
By the mid-1990s, a number of new movies were being made that addressed conscious creation and related subjects in both fictional and documentary formats. Naturally, I was quite pleased about this, for my two loves had become entwined. My enjoyment of substantive film merged with my interest in conscious creation to create a passion for movies with meaning. But, at roughly the same time, I discovered something else equally amazing: The seeds of these ideas had been present in many of the pictures I’d been watching all of my life. The films’ creators may not have been consciously aware that they were delving into such themes, nor were the concepts always fully developed, yet the germ of those notions was present nevertheless. At that point, I began looking back at many of the movies I’d watched before with a new set of eyes, viewing them from a different perspective, seeing them as artfully cloaked couriers of profound, insightful messages.
Such is the odyssey that brought me to this book, this exploration into the meshing of my two most ardent pursuits, cinema and conscious creation. Its purpose is to serve as a guide to the films I consider most significant from a conscious creation perspective. So come join me in this adventure; I’ve saved you a seat.
* * *
Conscious creation principles have been around in various forms for a long time. The ancient art of alchemy, for instance, is one such example. More recently, the teachings found in movies like “The Secret” (2006), with its law of attraction principles (see Chapter 3), have put a contemporary spin on these ideas. But conscious creation received its most comprehensive treatment in the extensive and powerful writings of author and visionary Jane Roberts (1929-1984) and her noncorporeal channeled entity, Seth. This unique collaboration, aided by Roberts’s husband, Robert Butts, produced volume upon volume of material on the subject, exploring it in all its aspects. Their works, which I recommend highly, provided the foundation of my conscious creation education.
The most fundamental concept of conscious creation is the idea that you create your own reality in conjunction with the power of All That Is (or God, Goddess, Source, the Universe, the Force or whatever other comparable term best suits you). At the risk of gross understatement, this is a very powerful notion. It’s a highly liberating philosophy whose only real limitations are those we set for ourselves. And, given the shortcomings of a restrictive theological upbringing, such as the one I experienced, it’s easy to see why these teachings hold so much appeal.
The driving forces in conscious creation are our thoughts and beliefs. As they arise from the formless inner world where they originate, they fuse with the power of All That Is and take shape as physically manifested creations. Everything around us thus becomes an outward reflection of our inner views. It’s a power we mostly take for granted (or are partially or wholly unaware of), but it’s truly awesome when considering the results it produces and the potential it makes possible.
There are probably some who find that concept a little difficult to accept. Some of the skepticism probably arises from a misinterpretation of how the process works, and author Ehryck Gilmore offers an excellent analogy to explain this. Upon hearing a typical conscious creation statement like “thoughts become things,” one might be tempted to think of it in terms of the Bewitched school of manifestation—a little twitch of the lips and the envisioned object spontaneously appears out of thin air, accompanied by the ring of a bell. Now, it’s possible that the process can sometimes proceed with astonishing speed, but, since most of us have not yet developed the proficiency of a Samantha Stevens, there is generally a lag involved as the materialization unfolds, blossoming like the slowly opening petals of a fresh flower.
A more pragmatic view would be to think of the process this way: Look at how a building comes into being. It doesn’t instantaneously spring forth into physical existence as a fully finished structure; it originates as an idea, a noncorporeal belief in the mind of the architect that a physical construction can result from the assemblage of certain components to create a final product with particular aesthetic and functional attributes. This vision first manifests physically as drawings, then as a blueprint, then as a model, then as a construction site and so on until the building itself is complete. But, no matter how one looks at it, the structure’s point of origin—like anything else that becomes outwardly manifest—stems from the inner, nonphysical world. In the end, the originating thought truly does become the created thing.
The real trick in grasping this idea is to recognize (and remain aware) that it applies across the board, to all the elements that appear in our surroundings and in all of the events that transpire in our lives. Such is the inclusive and interconnected nature of conscious creation. Although this concept does take some getting used to, it’s an aspect that I find especially appealing, particularly in light of my theological background. The religious practices with which I was raised were often treated like a component of life all unto itself, disconnected from all other elements of daily living. Going to church on Sunday was like getting one’s weekly holy fix, an application of spiritual antiperspirant to safeguard against life’s trials, tribulations and embarrassing wetness till the following Sabbath. But I had considerable difficulty seeing how an arcane ritual performed one morning a week by officiators decked out in outfits that would make Liberace jealous related to how I lived my life on the other six days, especially because official explanations about its relevance offered little, if any, meaningful clarification. Conscious creation teachings, however, showed me how the spirit of our consciousness and the power of All That Is are infused into everything we encounter in life and in all of its (i.e., our) wondrous creations. If nothing else, it took my relationship to the divine and made it both personal and practical.
In line with that, then, if you accept the notion that you create your own reality, it also means that you create all of the reality surrounding you. It’s not a salad bar; you can’t pick and choose which items you create and which ones “just happen.” You can’t take credit for the glorious rainbow or the beautiful sunset without also taking credit for the toxic waste dump. That’s why it’s so important to understand your thoughts and beliefs, for they continually create the world around you, even if you’re not always consciously aware of what they are or how they become expressed.
This also sheds light on the inherent personal responsibility associated with conscious creation; one cannot sleepwalk through the process, take it lightly or casually pawn off one’s participation in it without running the risk of unwanted or unexpected results. (A number of cautionary tale films in this book help make that readily apparent.) But don’t let this aspect of the process deter you. Conscious creation teachings are filled with guidance on how to navigate the sometimes-choppy waters and rocky shoals of the practice. Ample lessons on helpful tools and coping mechanisms are available, many of which are covered in this book.
This is not to suggest that conscious creation is all work and no play, either; quite the contrary, in fact. Once the rudiments of the process are mastered, vistas for adventure and creative expression open at every turn. The possibilities and probabilities of existence endlessly evolve, literally in each moment, with limitless potential for taking us and our individual worlds in new and different directions, “a constant state of becoming,” as it’s often called. Through this process, we thus have an opportunity to experience rich and rewarding journeys of ever-present wonder, replete with countless avenues for exploration and fulfillment.
Kind of like the movies, wouldn’t you say?
* * *
Those who know me well can attest to the fact that I often cite lines or scenes from movies to make a point. I frequently can be heard saying things like, “You know, that reminds me of a scene from (insert movie title here),” at which juncture I’ll explain how the reference addresses my reasoning. As quirky or irritating as some may find this practice, I believe it’s an effective means for illustrating ideas, because it provides a tangible example of the concept in question. That’s particularly true where conscious creation is concerned, and that’s the point of this book.
Get the Picture arose from an article I wrote some years ago for Reality Change magazine. That article featured summaries of films that effectively portray conscious creation teachings, providing short analyses of the pictures with relevant quotes from the writings of Jane Roberts and Seth for elaboration. This book expands on that article’s premise by providing an outline of the rudiments of conscious creation, using movies as a means of illustration.
The chapter sequence is set up like a road map, designed to walk readers through the steps of the process, beginning at the point of unfamiliarity and culminating at the point of adeptness, if not outright proficiency. Each chapter opens with an introduction to a basic conscious creation concept, providing an overview of its essence and its pertinence to the overall process. That’s followed by five movie listings showing the concept at work. In some cases, the listings are combination entries (Double Features and even one Triple Feature), presenting pictures linked by common themes or other elements. All listings contain plot summaries and analyses of how the movies reflect the chapter concept in question. (Get the picture?!)
I have endeavored to avoid playing spoiler as much as possible. Although there may be hints at how the stories turn out (generally through the use of textual cliffhangers), I have done my level best to keep from blatantly divulging any endings. The only exceptions are entries involving biographies and pictures based on historical events, story lines in which the outcomes are already known and in the public record. Otherwise, though, I’m not telling; you’ll just have to see the pictures for yourself!
Each listing also includes credit information on principal cast members, directors, writers, year of U.S. domestic release and notations on major awards (Oscars, Golden Globes, the Cannes Film Festival and, in a few cases, Emmys). Some listings are further accompanied by “Extra Credits” entries, brief summaries of movies covering related subjects, or by “Author’s Notebook” offerings, personal anecdotes about some of my experiences in seeing these movies, such as how they influenced my development as a conscious creator. And rounding out nearly every chapter is a “Bonus Features” section, presenting brief write-ups of other films that relate to the chapter’s theme.
There’s a logic to the order of the chapters that will become apparent as you make your way through the book. The concepts build upon one another, sometimes within a chapter and sometimes from one chapter to the next, showing how the different conscious creation principles fit together like pieces of a puzzle. To remind readers how those pieces relate to one another, there are frequent cross-references in the text. Due to the nature of this format, then, it probably wouldn’t be practical to treat this book like a catalog that one could casually peruse for selecting a movie to watch. The organization and contents of the listings don’t readily lend themselves to that. Instead, the book functions more like a cinematic syllabus, taking readers through a course on conscious creation as depicted through film. But worry not—there’s no midterm to prep for, and I promise to pass everyone.
The films that I’ve selected for each chapter are what I consider some of the best examples of cinematic portrayals of the conscious creation concepts involved. Some selections could easily have fit into more than one chapter, and good arguments could be made for organizing them differently, but I slotted them where I felt they could best explore and illustrate the ideas at hand. Also, as noted earlier, some of these pictures may not have been made with conscious creation principles in mind, but the ideas are present nevertheless. This isn’t meant to give them revisionist treatment; rather, it’s to show how good they are at portraying these particular notions, whether or not their creators intended them to do so.
With all that said, I’d like to add a few other comments about this book’s nature and its contents:
· This is not an almanac of my all-time personal favorite films; that’s not the intent of this book. Besides, some of my favorites wouldn’t necessarily meet the qualifying criteria.
· This book is not an encyclopedia of all the pictures with spiritual or metaphysical themes ever made. Other books like that already exist, so I’ll leave them to do their job, since that’s not what I’m striving for here.
· Most of this book’s movies are from within the past 50 years, covering releases up to 2006, when the first edition was written. In fact, many of the featured entries have been released within the last 15 to 20 years, the time when these subjects began finding wider acceptance in society at large and on the big screen in particular. Although there are some listings for older films, the majority come from within this time frame, because it’s the period I feel most qualified commenting on.
· I like all the movies in this book. Since I’m not fulfilling the role of a traditional film critic here, why would I devote space to pictures I don’t like or wouldn’t recommend? I include criticisms where warranted, but this is not a priority.
· A few entries were originally made for broadcast or cable television. I believe relevant small-screen productions deserve recognition where pertinent, especially if they effectively portray conscious creation concepts.
· Readers may notice a preference for sci-fi flicks. Because these pictures often feature story lines outside the box, they make ideal candidates for exploring metaphysical concepts of a comparable nature, the kind that the liberating principles of conscious creation make possible.
· Some films will seem like obvious choices, while others will not. And others still may be conspicuous by their absence, probably because I didn’t like them, even if they seemingly met the qualifying criteria (fans of “The Sixth Sense” (1999) and “The Matrix” series (1999, 2003)—you’ve been forewarned).
· Certain types of movies are lacking almost entirely, mainly because there’s little I like about them in general, let alone as candidates for this book. Some may think me cantankerous or prejudicial for saying that, and I’d respond that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion—including me. Consequently, you’ll find no Westerns (their testosterone-driven story lines rank about on par with professional wrestling), no horror flicks (their gratuitous, gore-dripping gimmickry makes me wish I’d skipped the concession stand on my way into the theater), and, with one exception, no musicals (most make me wish I’d been born heterosexual).
I’m so pleased you’ve decided to join me in this cinematic and spiritual journey. Our conscious exploration of existence, like the world of film, is a show that never ends, one that perpetually glows in the great shining darkness of the Universe as long as the light of consciousness—and the stories that emerge from it—continue to give it expression. Movies help us to see that and make the trip that much more enjoyable. So come inside—it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy the show!
Excerpted from "Get the Picture?!: Conscious Creation Goes to the Movies" by Brent Marchant. Copyright © 0 by Brent Marchant. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.