Friday, December 11, 2009

The Fountain Revisited- Part 2: The Road to Awe

The Fountain is by far my favorite film of all time. I thought it was a beautiful film the first time through but the second round just blew my mind. The film is vague in it's meaning and ending leaving the audience to come up with their own conclusions. This series will take a second look into my revised thoughts on the film's spiritual and religious themes.

[Mayan Priest guarding the narrow path to the Tree of Life]

Warning: Spoilers there be!

The Western mindset has us think that if we can only skip over or even avoid death that we may enter into an existence free of pain and aging. Thomas, and at times Izzy, play out this mentality in the film but eventually find that only by accepting the natural order of the human experience will they come to find peace.

In Izzi's book, which captures her emotional and mental struggle with cancer, 16th century Tomas sought the Tree of Life to rescue Queen Elizabeth and Spain from the cancerous growth of the Inquisitor's lust for power. They tried to avoid the inevitable without fully realizing what they were seeking. Tomas' men are trapped and killed by the Mayan's as they approached the hidden temple and take Tomas to their priest.

The Priest guarding the path to Life challenges Tomas to join the fate of First Father who sacrificed himself for the Tree of Life. For the Mayans, and for all three incarnation of Thomas, eternal life is found only by first experiencing death. Death is the road to awe. It is through this mortal experience that we can enter into and become a part of the cosmos, a part of eternity. Not to confuse this with the universe itself which, in my belief, has not always been, but the creative and eternal Spirit of Life which has been since the beginning. When we die, we not only pass on that creative Spirit to those who are still alive but we join together and become a part of that Spirit.

As Tomas greedily drank from the Tree of Life he experienced a vision of Xibalba and collapses as flowers exploded and burst from within his body. The individual Tomas no longer exists but his death brings forth new life and a part of Tomas lives eternally through that new life. Tom, the 26th century space monk, stayed alive for 500 years as he traveled with his beloved Izzi (her essence "grew into the wood") in hopes of being reborn in Xibalba. His efforts in avoiding death only twisted Tom into a fearful and obsessed creature haunted daily by the Izzi that once was. His 500 year quest ends with the one path he had avoided, death as the road to awe.

During the last few months of my wife's pregnancy with our first child I had literally thousands of questions racing through my head. One of the them being how does the child know when it's "time"? My wife attempted to explain to me something about chemicals or hormones which her medical explanations always fly right over my head. Yet in the end the baby follows the instinctual instruction embed in their genes, they just know. Why is it that we follow our instinct during our introduction into the world and fight tooth and nail to avoid our "exit"? If we accept death as naturally as the rest of the animal kingdom would we begin to enjoy every minute of the NOW instead of worrying our lives away about the future? If death is truly the road to awe then we can rest in peace knowing that through our death new life can emerge, flourish, grow, love, and experience all the wonders and beauty of life.

1 comment:

Don said...

"If death is truly the road to awe then we can rest in peace knowing that through our death new life can emerge, flourish, grow, love, and experience all the wonders and beauty of life." I think you "hit the nail on the head."

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