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The Mind-changing Myths of AVATAR

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The Mind-changing Myths of AVATAR

Blending Hinduism, Shamanism and Goddess Spirituality

By Berit Kjos - February 7, 2010

Lower right corner: Jake riding a powerful bird he psychically controls

avatar-game

 

"We...need to reawaken something very old...our understanding of Earth wisdom. We need to accept the invitation to the dance -- the dance of unity of humans, plants, the Earth."[1] Deep Ecology

"I propose that Cameron is alluding to that tenth avatar of Vishnu becoming manifest as the US marine in Pandora's universe. The deliberate choice of the blue skin instantly, magically and metaphorically relates our protagonist to two previous avatars namely Rama and Krishna."[2]  Sita Wadhwani, Mumbai Editor

"When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed... gray. It was like my whole life, everything I've done and worked for, lost its meaning.... I live in a dying world."[3] Avatar-forums.com

Imagine a new world! Visualize its beauty! Flow with your feelings! Become one with all! 

But what about reality?

With their cat-like eyes, pointed ears, snarling hiss and balancing tails, the tall Na'vi humanoids fit right into a spiritual network that supposedly links everything on Pandora, a lush distant moon. Environmentally attuned, they ride through the skies on powerful birds, climb the stony walls of magnificent hanging mountains, and worship their goddess. Naturally, they despise the corporate monstrosity that has invaded their habitat in search of priceless resources.

Those earthly intruders intend to excavate Pandora's most sacred spot. To avoid war, they brought a scientific team trained to befriend the indigenous Na'vi people and persuade them to move.

That team includes latecomer Jake Sully, a paraplegic Marine replacing his slain twin brother. After some training, his mind and consciousness would periodically be transferred to his Na'vi-like avatar -- a  body originally made to match his brother's DNA.

Remember the Hindu word avatar? It refers to an incarnation or manifestation of a Hindu god. The most common avatars are incarnations of the god Vishnu, and they include the mischievous flute-playing Krishna and the bow-and-arrow carrying Rama (pictured below). Both are usually pictured with bluish skin -- just like the native Na'vis. avatar-rama

Testing his new avatar legs, tail and body, Jake heads for the forest, admires the flowers, and faces a rhino-sized beast. This strange world is nothing like the gray, polluted earth he left behind![4]

Moments later, a snarling panther-like thanator chases him deeper into the woods where he meets the beautiful Neytiri who aims her bow and arrow at him. Fortunately, she receives a message from her mysterious goddess through a cloud of white flower-like creatures that settle on Jake -- a clear sign that the goddess [Eywa] wants Neytiri to befriend this ignorant stranger. But first she scolds him for causing the death of other terrifying pursuers.

Hmmm. Do you wonder why Neytiri carries a bow and arrow when all life is one?[5]

Jake does his best to follow the sure-footed Neytiri (climbing, leaping, etc.) back to Hometree, her clan's sacred domain. She introduces him to Mo'at, her psychic mother who happens to be the tribal tsahik (shaman speaking for Eywa). She tells her daughter to train this "dreamwalker" in their native ways. Some of the clan warriors look skeptical.

Jake is a good pupil, and his lessons on pantheistic unity soon shift his loyalty from his worldly mission to the tribe and Eywa. So when his commander prepares to destroy Hometree and much of the sacred forests, Jake springs into action. Through psychic linkage, he tames and rides the fiercest bird of all -- the mighty Toruk, who became his "spirit animal" through a ritual Spirit Quest.[4] Speeding above the forests, he gathers Pandora's tribes for war.

He prays to Eywa for help, and she answers his plea. She summons birds and beasts of every kind. With such an army, how could they lose?

Her final "miracle" is to transfer Jake's life from his injured earthly body to his Na'vi avatar. The earthly human dies, then awakens to new  life in a pantheistic "paradise." By putting his faith in the pagan goddess, Jake had earned the honor of a counterfeit resurrection. Now, he's one of them!

It all sounds good to earthlings who love the myth of mystical oneness! No wonder thousands of viewers became depressed (even suicidal) after their virtual experience of Pandora's wonders. To them, dropping their 3-D glasses into the recycling bin at the exit means a dreaded return to a dull reality! Ponder the potential effect of this seductive journey on those who love fantasy more than facts:

"Ever since I went to see 'Avatar' I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na'vi made me want to be one of them. I can't stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film... I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora...'"[3] (Mike at Avatar-forums.com)

The reality behind this mind-bending, feeling-based mythology is the existence of an occult spiritual system. Avatar's promotion of pantheism and panentheism (see Glossary of Religious Terms) point to the "spiritual unity" at the heart of Hinduism, Native American shamanism and  the worship of Mother Earth. They all clash with God's truth.

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness!" Isaiah 5:20-21

1. Hindu gods and their avatars

Writer and director Sudipto Chattopadhyay believes that Cameron's choice of the title (Avatar) reflects a Hindu perspective:

"The ancient Hindu scriptures have forever reiterated that whenever the world would be on the brink of disaster and mankind faces extinction... the divine Lord Vishnu would consider it his duty to manifest himself in mortal, palpable form to save mankind from the impending doomsday. ...the Avatar is meant to be the savior, the messiah of his own race and people."[2]

In Cameron's mythical movie, planet Pandora was certainly facing a major disaster, and Jake -- incarnated in his Na'vi avatar -- seems to be the saving avatar. After all, he was chosen and approved by the goddess herself!

Chattopadhyay is not the only one affirming the Hindu suggestions in this movie. Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, repeats the need for intervention through an avatar -- though he may not approve of this movie:

'Avatar', a Sanskrit term, means descent or incarnation. Hinduism is shaped by its traditional belief in the incarnation of Vishnu (the Preserver in Hindu trinity) into ten forms to establish dharma (divine law), which include Matsya, Kurma... Rama, Krishna, Buddha.... Hindus believe that without such intervention, the entire created universe would have gone into decline."[6]

For a glimpse of the dark side of Hinduism please read Let the Little Children Come.

2. Goddess spirituality

"The spiritual sense of our place in nature... can be traced to the origins of human civilization,"[7] wrote Al Gore in his 1990 book, Earth in the Balance.

Mr. Cameron would probably agree. Since he and Gore seem to think alike on some issues, ponder this next statement. Here Al Gore suggests that,

"a goddess religion was ubiquitous throughout much of the world until the antecedents of today's religions.... The last vestige of organized goddess worship was eliminated by Christianity.  ...it seems obvious that a better understanding of a religious heritage preceding our own by so many thousands of years could offer us new insights..."[7]

Useful "new insights" from "goddess worship"? What might they be?  In his next statement, Mr. Gore gives us a clue:

"The richness and diversity of our religious tradition throughout history is a spiritual resource long ignored by people of faith [Christians?] who are often afraid to open their minds to teachings first offered outside their own system of belief. But the emergence of a civilization in which knowledge moves freely and almost instantaneously throughout the world has... spurred a renewed investigation of the wisdom distilled by all faiths. This panreligious perspective may prove especially important where our global civilization's responsibility for the earth is concerned."[7]

Finally, Gore quotes Dr. Karan Singh, a Hindu environmentalist who wrote, "The Earth is our mother, and we are all her children."[7] That should arouse fear rather than comfort, for when we look back to ancient goddess-worshipping cultures, we see unspeakable cruelty. [Read more]

"...they speak a vision of their own heart... They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, 'You shall have peace' and to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.’” Jeremiah 23:16

3. Native American pantheism, animism and shamanismindian-bird

According to Al Gore, Native American religions "offer a rich tapestry of ideas about our relationship to the earth." He quotes Chief Seattle, who supposedly asked this question:

"Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? . . . This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all."[7]

Sounds like Pandora, doesn't it?  And it's just as unreal. Those words were actually written by Ted Perry for a 1971 environmental movie. It was just the message they needed to persuade viewers of their point of view!

Likewise, the mythical Na'vi present "right" ideology. Largely patterned after today's idealized views of Native Americans, they draw viewers into an unforgettable encounter with the "illusions of oneness." Few realilze that behind the "beautiful side of paganism" lie the same human tendencies that bring pain and destruction to all parts of the world:  greed, violence, competition, and war.

The late Dr. Clark Wissler, Curator Emeritus of the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, was recognized as a world authority on Native Americans.  In his book,  Indians of the United States, he describes all the admirable aspects of their culture:  their love for their children, their hospitality and their beliefs.

He also had the courage to expose the sad facts. Stripping away the popular myth of perfect harmony, Wissler shows us that Native Americans struggle with the same human nature we do.  Look at some popular myths in the light of additional facts. 

·         Harmony with nature?  To stampede a herd of buffalo, hunters might set the grass on fire behind the flock. The escaping herd would "flounder into a swamp or tumble over a cliff." (pp. 270, 14)

·         Preserver of life?  "The early Indian hunted the wild horse for food, which may be one of the reasons why they became extinct long before white men came to America." (p.287)

·         Peace with each other?  "The elders of neighboring tribes talked peace... but the marauding traditions were so carefully fostered that raiding for blood, captives, and plunder was on the level of second nature."(p.63)

·         Respect for all life? The Iroquois, noted for democratic self-government, "planned to destroy the Huron.  It was not to be a war of subjugation; they hated the Huron intensely.... After taking the first town, the massacred the entire population. If they took captives, it was to torture them to death."(p.131) [8]

I don’t want to diminish the wrongs committed against Native Americans: killing, selling alcohol, taking their land, ignoring treaty obligations, etc. Yet our children need to see these tragic violations in the light of the whole truth.  Apart from our Creator and Savior, human nature everywhere will express its selfishness and violence.  If we dismiss uncomfortable facts in order to prove a false ideal, we perpetuate the lies.  We also hide the only solution that works –- trusting and following God.

Filling minds with occult visions and evolutionary ideals will surely immunize the masses against the Truth of God. His reality is incompatible with Avatar's mystical illusions! Yet people have, through the ages, chosen to compromise God's truths with their imagination. Remember the moral condition of the masses back in Noah's days:

"...every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Genesis 6:5

Similar conditions will prevail when Jesus returns. (See Luke 17:20)  Today's occult movies and computer games, playing on the imaginations of impressionable children, could open a "Pandora's Box" of paganism and spiritual bondage. So let's heed His warnings:

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:8

 


 

FURTHER READING


REFERENCES

1. Bill Devall and George Session, Deep Ecology (Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1985), p. ix.

2. "The religious backdrop to James Cameron's 'Avatar'" at http://www.cnngo.com/mumbai/play/avatar-hindu-perspective-961455

3. A comment by "Hill" at Avatar-forums.com

4. Avatar: The Na'vi Quest, Adapted from the movie by Nicole Pitesa,  (Harper Festival, 2009), pp. 1, 57. This small book provides some details not explained in the movie.

5. The above book answers that question: The Na'vi were meat-eating hunters, but they had to had to understand the pantheistic oneness before they could take life. When Jake kills a hexapede, he prays: "I see you, brother, and thank you. Your spirit goes with Eywa, your body stays behind to become part of the people."[p.39]

6. Hindus ask for a disclaimer with James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ at www.entertainmentandshowbiz.com/avatar-hindus-ask-for-a-disclaimer-with-james-camerons-avatar-2009111822418

7. Al Gore, Earth in the Balance; Ecology and the Human Spirit (Houghton Mifflin, 1992), pp. 260, 258-259, 261.

8. Clark Wissler, PILD, Indians of the United States (New York. Anchor Books, Doubleday), pp. 270, 14, 287, 63, 131.

9. Terence P. Jeffrey, Editor-in-Chief , "U.S. Gives Yale Researcher $3.9-Million in Tax Dollars to Develop ‘Avatar’ Sex-Ed Video Game for Kids," CNS News, February 5, 2010. http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/61017