Kaiyum reviews the film ‘Cloud Atlas’
Although Osho didn’t pay much attention to reincarnation as a subject – he remarked somewhere that we have enough to do just with this life – he did talk more often about how Buddha and other enlightened masters relived their past lives, their deaths and their lessons. He also described his own last life 700 years ago and how he had been murdered 3 days before the completion of a 21-day fast …
One matter is clear: past lives and reincarnation are realities that play their part in the path to enlightenment and release from the wheel of rebirth.
The 2012 film ‘Cloud Atlas’ is based on David Mitchell’s third book, published in 2004. It consists of six nested stories that take the reader from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future (‘the Fall’). Well-known actors such as Hugh Grant, Halle Berry, Ben Whishaw and Hugo Weaving play as many as 6 different roles which intertwine throughout this 172 minute long film, even switching in their various lives from male to female.
The various stories are set for numerous themes that re-occur, a number of which we’ll look at here. The script is compact to the point of being frugal and highly supportive of the action that is in no way lacking in this exciting and attention-grabbing film.
Here some of the quotes from the film:
“All boundaries are conventions waiting to be transcended.”
Many of the stories reflect how individuals’ boundaries are constantly ignored, opening doorways to new ways of living life. Osho, the great rebel, is himself a fine example of how important it is to transcend old and culture-bound traditions and conventions on the path to personal freedom.
“One can transcend any convention at the moment one can conceive of doing so.”
This statement tallies with New Age beliefs around ‘if you can dream it, you can make it’, as Walt Disney is quoted as saying, a concept dear to the heart of anyone using affirmations and visualisation techniques.
The main character, Sonmi-451, experiences a remarkable breakthrough in her own perception of reality, just as Osho encourages us to break with tradition for tradition’s sake and to wake up. Circumstances arise in which Sonmi-451 becomes the unwitting figurehead of a liberation movement that evolves into a kind of religion that perhaps contributes to the Fall.
“We cross and re-cross our tracks like figure-skaters.”
This hint about reincarnation is enhanced by another statement:
“Death is only a door. When it closes, another opens.”
And the additional conviction that:
“I believe we do not stay dead long.”
After all, what is death? Osho reminds us forcefully about ‘Death: the greatest myth’.
“Separation is an illusion.”
The oneness and connectedness of all life is reflected in virtually all the stories at different moments, in different ages and totally different situations. That only a few of the characters are sufficiently evolved to make the connection is another matter, yet whether it’s a story involving love between man and woman, or partnerships which arise on the way to reveal truth, or the rarest of possible friendships that develop between a runaway black slave and a white lawyer, nevertheless illusions are created and revealed for what they are.
“If I had remained invisible, the truth would have stayed hidden.”
These prophetic words by Sonmi-451 are a powerful reflection of Osho’s pursuit of truth irrespective of the consequences.
Osho is persecuted throughout his teaching life and eventually poisoned, Sonmi-451 is executed for living her truth and dies with an ecstatic expression on her face.
Previously, during a sort of peaceful interrogation, she is asked:
“And what if no-one believes this truth?”
To which she replies, her last words in the film:
“Someone already does.”
It is clear that her interrogator – played by James D’Arcy – a thoughtful, calm man seeking objective truth, does believe what he has heard from his prisoner. In his other roles in the film, as Dr Rufus Sixsmith, we see a man in pursuit of his inner truth, guided by homosexual love and the tragedy of the suicide of his lover, so bound by restrictive social conventions of the times. As the archivist, it is clear how this character, this person, has evolved and found his inner truth the pursuit of which lead to his murder in an identical way to how his lover killed himself (no coincidence, perhaps!).
And Osho? Draw your own conclusions from what you know of a man who dedicated his life to truth.
And as Sonmi-451 also says:
“Truth is singular – its versions are untruths.”
“You can keep people in your power if you give them something.
Rob them of that and you risk everything.”
These words touch on another of the vital themes that weaves its way through the stories and different time frames, reminding us of the power of karma. Autua, the slave, fights for and wins his freedom; Ewing, a ‘slave’ to the conventions of his time, is helped by Autua to awaken to his own need to escape the confines of establishment and goes on to support the abolitionist movement along with his wife, Tilda, centuries later to return as Sonmi-451 to continue the struggle for freedom.
“By each crime and every kindness we birth our future.”
This ancient karmic adage – as Jesus put it, “As you sow, so shall you reap” – becomes abundantly clear by further analysis of the nested stories, and confirmed by these words that sum up the complex spider’s web of this fascinating film:
“From womb to tomb you are bound to others.
We are bound to others past and present.”
Related articles and discourses
Sarita: Reincarnation and Unwinding Karma
Osho: 700 Year Gap
Higher Souls Have to Wait for a Long Time
Reincarnation and Higher Consciousness
Reincarnation is a Misconception
More quotes from the movie
The world spins on the same forces that spin our hearts.
I will not be subjected to criminal abuse.
Only those deprived of freedom have the barest inkling of what it is.
Deprive a man of his freedom and that man will no longer be in your power.
The weak are meat and the strong do eat.
The strong eat, the weak are meat.
My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.
There’s a natural order to the world and that must be protected.
Our lives are not our own.
By each crime and every kindness we birth our future.