Weekend of Freedom Retreat 2016 – A conversation with Gary Renard, Cindy Lora-Renard and Bruce Rawles

In this video conversation, Gary Renard, Cindy Lora-Renard and Bruce Rawles, several of the presenters at the 2016 Weekend of Freedom Retreat, talk about freedom as A Course in Miracles (ACIM) would define it – in the mind – undoing guilt, remembering to laugh, and the upcoming 2016 Weekend of Freedom Retreat (June 16-19, 2016) in Estes Park, Colorado. In addition to 4 days of playful camaraderie-ship … is that a word? 🙂 … and insightful community and sharing with fellow ACIM students, the venue – YMCA of the Rockies – provides some superb recreational facilities and lots of time for in-depth exploration the non-dual metaphysics of ACIM, with generous opportunities for interaction, leisurely conversations and round-table sharing! Gary and Cindy also talk about some of their upcoming events and appearances, Cindy’s new music, Gary’s new book, hiking, movies, weather and more! Please join us in Estes Park this June!

Gary Renard and Cindy Lora-Renard

Gary Renard and Cindy Lora-Renard

Weekend Of Freedom Retreat

I’m quite enthused to be part of this event for students of A Course In Miracles this June! Mark your calendars now!

Weekend of Freedom Retreat 2016

The 5th annual Weekend of Freedom Retreat (WOFR) event, based on A Course In Miracles (ACIM) will be June 16-19, 2016 at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. The WOFR website has much more detail including registration, lodging, past events including slideshows, and more info. I will be posting video conversations with the organizers and other presenters about the event … and freedom! Freedom from what? Freedom from the needless self-tyrannizing thought system of ego’s separate interests – of course! 🙂 … And what better place to share 4 days of that exhilarating awareness than beautiful Estes Park, Colorado, adjacent to the magnificent Rocky Mountain National Park! Hope you can join us! You can use this link to stay informed about the event.

Metaphysical Movie Metaphors: Wizard of Oz

Wizard Of Oz
Any movie, just as any life experience from our space-time projected cinema, can be interpreted by our Inner Kindness Teacher in a way that leads us home – to where we’ve never left. Since we all have two mutually exclusive thought systems: ego 100% insane, and Holy Spirit (represented by the Jesus of ACIM) 100% sane, and the decision-making faculty to choose between the two at every juncture, every moment. Since we’re dreaming – and projecting the contents of our mind – 24/7, movies are a great metaphor for what are minds are doing, and a reminder that our lives literally ARE metaphors. We have it all backwards; our material world, bodies and the personas that hide behind them are the metaphors, while our unchanging essential nature (which at times seems metaphoric because we don’t understand pure abstraction) is the underlying reality, in contrast with the dream we call life. What we see on the screen literally and figuratively is metaphor, and it is the mind beyond the projection where our reality can be found.

I think that’s why I’m intuitively drawn to movies, particularly those of the ‘virtual reality’ and allegorical genres; the ones where the inspiration for the film has been influenced by a recognition that there is something more than meets the eye, a better way and a purpose for both recognizing both thought systems and their intended realms.

The Wizard of Oz is rich with metaphysical metaphor. Here are a few examples:

Dorothy’s initial home is in Kansas, in the center or heart of the country; she only dreams of leaving it. The bulk of the movie is in Oz (the dream) where she must overcome her fear by using the classroom of Oz (our forgiveness opportunities) to return home (awaken from the dream) through numerous ‘adventures’ that ego interprets as scary.

The first part of the movie is in black and white; when Dorothy dreams of landing in Oz, she experiences Oz (the dream) as being more ‘real’ (vivid, colorful). By contrast (from within the dream), Kansas seems monotone (gray-scale) and surreal; yet Oz is actually the realm of the surreal, where bizarre characters and events seem to occur.

Dorothy’s arrival in Oz seems to have caused the demise of a wicked witch; which she appears to recoil in (unconscious) guilt upon learning she was responsible for this death. The deceased witch’s ruby slippers magically appear on Dorothy’s feet (the color of blood) becoming both a symbol of her (unconscious) murder and the object of her living sister’s envy and quest for vengeance throughout the film.

At the end of the film, Dorothy discovers that she had the power to go home all along, by clicking the ruby slippers (our under-standing, pun intended) together – bringing what seems apart together. When we bring the symbols of our unconscious guilt (ego’s imagined protection, a.k.a. shields of oblivion) to the light of inclusion, the unfounded darkness disappears and we seem to return home (awaken from the dream) where we never actually left.

The yellow-brick road seems analogous to Ariadne’s golden thread through the labyrinth of the Minotaur in Greek mythology; it could be symbolic of trusting our Inclusive Guide to take us home by forgiving every inch of the way, as we traverse the dark and frightful dream of the unknown with a golden light that remains a path we can trust (the content of kindness) even as the terrain and characters change dramatically (form).

The spirals of the tornado and the yellow-brick road’s origin invoke the geometric symbolism of the duality of any spiral; it can spin outward away from the center where all is calm … or inward (back to the mind) where peace has always been. Ideas only seem to leave their source in dreams.

After leaving the land of the Munchkins, the first character Dorothy meets is the scarecrow who is looking for a brain. If we substitute mind for brain, Dorothy’s question to him becomes “What would you do with a mind if you had one?” This is a terrifying question to pose to ego, equivalent to “What am I?” If we’re mindless, we’ll think that our spiritual instruction is being given to a specific person (I call mine “Bruce: a fiction”) or it’s poster child, the body we see in the bathroom mirror every morning. Ken Wapnick reminds us that our progress in studying ACIM reaches a milestone when we realize that our beloved blue book isn’t addressing us as a person, but rather as the decision-making mind, specifically one that has the capacity to choose against ego, restoring our real Self to our awareness, by default when ego’s identity has been chosen against.

The next character is the tin woodsman, looking for a heart. When we mechanically, dogmatically practice the form, but not the content (our feelings are often a clue when something is ’tilt’) we often feel stuck, usually because we’re not paying attention to when we’re indulging in personal interests at the expense of ‘others’ … we realize that we’re sacrificing kindness to others (being a victimizer) or ourselves (being a martyr or victim); we need the oil of shared interests to loosen up our rigid thinking and find the real heart-felt comfort that transcends ego’s artificial comfort zones.

The third companion Dorothy gathers on her journey is the lion looking for courage. The obvious oxymoron of a lion without courage is a reminder that we’re solidly in the dream world, where everything is upside-down, inside-out and backwards to reality. From within the dream battlefield, everything is fearful and our intrinsic fortitude is reduced to a trembling mass of immobility. It’s only when we bring these aspects together (as protagonist Dorothy does as she gathers her companions with the shared interest of going home together) that we find we can go forward toward Oz, where we can confront bigger fears, having joined forces and practiced on smaller challenges first.

When the four (plus Toto) arrive at the great hall and await audience with the great and mighty Oz, they experience the greatest – and most terrifying – theatrics of all, complete with a huge, monstrous head … but it’s all smoke and mirrors. Our minds are unimaginably powerful, since we made up an entire universe of space-time to hide out in, and it seems so realistic; the best special effects houses in the world with all their computer generated imagery are just tiny reflections of the power of mind … and the lengths we went to (in the tiny mad idea) to escape from an uncommitted crime against perfect Oneness.

They journey further to the wicked witch’s castle where Dorothy finally overcomes her with a bucket of water, which is a metaphor for mind in many symbolic systems. When we just confront – look without judgment, but with a clear, mindful assessment – at the absurdity of ego’s thought system, it just melts away, along with it’s ‘beautiful wickedness’ – our resistance to truth, which often take the form of treasured wounds and savored victimhood ego revels in.

Finally, returning with the witches broom – as requested by the wizard – Dorothy and her team now expect things to change in the land of Oz; they figure they’ve done their appointed task and now it’s time for the wizard to make good on his promises. In other words, we still want to bring our help into the dream and fix the prodigal situation we think (dream) we’re in. Ego never gives up on it’s level confusion tactic, since it doesn’t want to be undone. If we actually address cause (mind) ego knows it’s non-existent (dream) game is over, which is why we keep looking for yet one more dream repair solution to bring us happiness from specifics and circumstances.

Back in Oz’s fearful hall, it’s only when Toto pulls back the curtain revealing the pathetic man posing as a wizard, complete with impressive special effects, that we realize that ego’s highly convincing projections are all just a sham and a diversion to keep us identified with the big screen, instead of what’s going on in the projection booth of the mind. We then realize that our fears of looking at the mind were unfounded; looking at our unconscious guilt by forgiving the dreamer didn’t kill us, but instead gave us even more courage and conviction to return home and awaken from the dream.

The wizard plans to take Dorothy back to Kansas in a hot air balloon – ego’s attempt to use the form of rising above the battlefield of duality, but without the content of changing the cause in the mind that can actually achieve it. It’s then that the good witch reminds Dorothy about the ruby slippers, we bring together (in under-standing) what seems to be apart (seeing the intrinsic equality and sameness of all illusion as being meaningless … which reveals the intrinsic equality and sameness of all that is real and unchanging ) and return from the dream to where Truth – our real, eternally shared Identity has never left, back in the heart of Oneness. The surreal dream (symbolized by Oz) merely ceases to seem to be.

Here’s a related audio interview with CA Brooks on her Sep. 12, 2014 internet show on 12Radio.com and Bruce Rawles on this topic.


Inception and ACIM (part 2)

"I forgive myself for making up the dream of separation" totemIn August 2010, right after the movie Inception was released, I was immediately impressed with the symbolism and references to “ACIM concepts” and wrote this article: Inception and Forgiving the Dream We Made Up. I’ve seen the movie Inception at least 5 times now, most recently on the Inception DVD (which has some excellent documentary ‘bonus’ material), and more of the symbolism is evident with each viewing. Like many popular films, while not always offering the ‘solution’ to the tiny mad idea (the belief in separation), it does a superb job of detailing the insane logic of the ego’s thought system and the mechanisms by which we have chosen to deepen our dream identifications. We can use the “George Costanza” opposite method (grin) to use these insights to see our ego’s sabotage in action and undo it by applying the opposite thought system (to reach our true identity which is beyond opposites. 🙂

Yesterday, 28Aug2012, Kenneth Bok of ACIMexplained (who has a superb YouTube series on ACIM including an interview with me) sent me a link to an outstanding article by Michael Murray (which Kenneth helped with) on the movie Inception’s ACIM connections, and I was inspired to add a few more thoughts to complement this very insightful article. I’ve provided references to the video clips and paragraphs in the article by Murray and Bok, in case you want to refer to both at the same time.

Here are my commentary additions to complement the article “Inception and A Course in Miracles” by Michael Murray and Kenneth Bok.

=== === ===

(From the first trailer): “The mind … is the scene of the crime.”
It’s also where our decision maker decides that the crime was a dream and chooses to wake up from that mis-interpretation by forgiving the deeply buried unconscious guilt, which surfaces as the ‘dream events’ in our seemingly individual lives.

Regarding the connection with Ariadne (the Inception character) and Ariadne (in Greek mythology); check out Ken Wapnick’s excellent audio: “The Golden Thread of Hope” where he uses the metaphor of the labyrinth (not unlike nested dreams) and the Minotaur (the ego’s monster of fear) at the deepest level of the labyrinth, and it’s dark thread that keeps us dreaming deeper, whereas our shared Teacher of Kindness (Ariadne’s golden thread) leads us gently out of our labyrinthine dreams.

dream we always end up in the middle of the dream.” and
ACIM: “… never remembering how the dream began.”

Inception: 29:38 – 30:55 & ACIM: Our upside-down perception usually revolves around reversing cause and effect; making the dream the cause of how we feel, instead of realizing that it is up to us to choose how we feel in every moment, which becomes part of the causal hologram of the dream fabric.


… The ego’s ‘totem’ is the uniquely different and separate ‘hero of the dream’ which maintains divisions and separate interests. Our Shared Totem make take different forms in the dream, but always relates to some aspect of kindness, forgiveness and undoing conflict that doesn’t exist in truth. We play different dream characters, but each seemingly individual script can be re-interpreted by our Shared Teacher of Kindness to reverse the destructive course of the dreams original prodigal purpose. Our ‘part’ is unique in either thought system, but there are 100% sane and 100% insane roles or interpretations each character in the dream may choose.

Self-attack and the folly of a split mind that needs defenses:

All attack is ultimately self-attack, but from within the dream it seems like defenses make sense. Only from outside the dream where all IS one, is attack, anger and blame-thrower vengeance heroics recognized as total insanity, regardless of how enthralling the special (love or hate) effects.

Inception: 47:33- 47:51 & ACIM:
Each of us are responsible for our own minds, and the power of our decision to choose a totally Inclusive thought system, or the insane alternative (which can only exist in dreams.) The impostor ego – which we have bought hook, line and sinker – has convinced us that we are the ‘who’ it has convinced us to believe in as our identity, yet beneath its raucous shrieks waits our peaceful Guide reminding us to ‘choose once again’ – truly our own original and inclusively sovereign thought – that we have never left Oneness. When we are guided from ACIM refers to as Holy Spirit, we are really being prompted by the more Inclusive Reality of our True Self. In either case, the ‘other’ thought system seems like a foreign idea infiltrator; only from Truth is there always eternal calm and lack of coercion.

… The only way we believe we can maintain (ego’s) pseudo-sanity is by projection, yet this is ever the seed of fear, believing that we can shift the responsibility for our experience on ‘outside agents’ that we appear to have no control over.

Inception: 49:15 – 49:20 & ACIM:
The more we realize that investing our identity in the dream is not going to make us happy, the more we see the sameness of all aspects of the dream, and that withdrawal of investment in specifics gives us the freedom to see the entirety of the dream with less and less bias, distortion and exclusion. We see the seeming enormity of our own ego’s insanity, yet realize that it is truly a colossal nothing, merely a tiny, mad idea.

Inception: 50:07- 50:19 & ACIM:
The guilt that drives us deeper into the dream of separation is well symbolized by the plot of Inception. As imaginary prodigals, we dream of the intrigue of splitting up what can never be separate, but have made a labyrinth of countless lifetimes and galactic diversions and divisions to maintain that horrific belief … which is really just a nightmare that forgiveness gently awakens us from. We’ve never left our true and happy home together with the Infinitely Inclusive family (as we must perceive it from a dualistic world) that all life here is but a shadow of.

Inception: 50:38-50:56 & ACIM:
Ken Wapnick talks about how the author of ACIM ‘tricks us’ by appealing to our base, selfish nature suggesting that we will feel better (positive) if we practice it’s lessons and learn to generalize it’s concepts. By addressing our minds where we think our identity is (egos), this curriculum works where it is needed, in the dream of the illusion of separate interests, until we realize that only shared interests bring changeless happiness.

Inception: 51:14 – 51:32 & ACIM:
Our authority problem is evident every time we choose to make one individual or group special either by special love or special hate; we believe we are usurping the ‘throne’ of the Whole Mind of God (which incurs guilt automatically) by wanting to have limited ‘love’ (which is the ultimate oxymoron 🙂 apart from our Creator, and even more silly, wage war on our special hates (which is what our special loves become all too quickly under the ego’s tyrannical rule; neither form of specialness can assuage the unconscious guilt the ego dreads is its ultimate demise.

In the (ACIM) LEVELS OF TIME diagram, I’m wondering if the reference in the vesically shaped overlap between “Heaven” and “Christ” refers to the Planck Time Constant? Years ago, a presentation I saw by Robynne McWayne (author of Radical Reality) shared that physics suggests that our (alleged) Universe winks out and reappears from scratch ‘stroboscopically’ about 10^44 times per second (1 with 44 zeroes after it.) Here’s the Wikipedia reference, which gives it more accurately as 5.39106(32) × 10-44 s.


Perhaps this, relative to our surreal dream, is how quickly the Tiny Mad Idea was corrected by our golden thread of forgiveness, and this opportunity to choose again re-presents itself as a choice in our mind 10^44 times per second. I sometimes joke that people who claim to not have enough opportunities to change their thinking squander 10^44 of them every second. 🙂

Presumably there is at least another level of dreaming (not shown in the diagram) to account for our current scientific belief that the universe is about 14 billion years old? (since the TMI = big bang?)

Inception: 1:00:41-1:00:43 & ACIM:
Our special loves (which become special hates and morph back and forth to hide from the scrutiny of a kind and open mind) cannot be held by the ego’s prison of memory. That’s why practicing quantum forgiveness to release ourselves and the images we hold about ‘others’ in our minds is so important to turn our nightmarish mental prisons into happy classrooms where specialness is re-interpreted by HS into inclusion that is not limited by time, space or particulars.

1st sleep & 1st dream:
It would seem that resistance is evidenced on all dualistic (dream) levels. Knowing that the fraudulent identity that we’ve invested everything with is not going to sit still while we pull the plug on it’s deception, we can practice being kind to ourselves – masquerading as others – until we realize there is no difference and the happiness kicks in to the extent that our resistance is no longer tolerable, knowing the painful payoff cannot be compared to the peace that transcends any dream games.

Inception: 1:13:40-1:13:53 & ACIM:
In Ken Wapnick’s “From Futility to Happiness” audio, he uses the analogy of the Greek legend of Sisyphus, forever pushing the boulder up the mountain, only to have it fall back and start over again; this is the limbo of reincarnation, and our daily, yearly, etc. cycles of struggle in a hopeless world that ego wants us to identify with. The instant we shift to the identity of the mind, we realize that we can observe our behavior as the Sisyphus archetype with compassion, and find the solace of shared interests, kindness and an All-Inclusive-Self forgiveness which makes the hopeless world of infinite loop monotony (despite the ego’s countless ‘new and improved’ façades) not only tolerable, but a joy to savor each classroom lesson of undoing the unconscious guilt and freeing all our inner slaves.

Inception: 1:14:35 – 1:14:50 & ACIM:
The ego’s emissaries in our mind never have a satisfactory answer or alternative to our true inheritance. We intuitively know that nothing in this dream world will every truly satisfy us, yet each moment of compassionate forgiveness that frees the cast in our dream stories liberates us and restores greater glimpses of our truly shared and infinite inheritance as Spirit.

Inception: 1:15:50 & ACIM:
The truth we had once known, but chose to forget was that we are a MIND, not prisoners in a dream of bodies, space and time and that we DO have the power of choice in every moment. The ego insanely drives us deeper into dreams of projection, blame and more labyrinthine levels of deception and scape-goating to avoid the most horrific concept that it can’t even imagine; that we would (and will) choose against it. From the ego’s perspective, this seems like suicide, as the Inception sequence portrays, yet, the only thing we’re really asked to give up is the suffering of interpretations based on the dream of separation! We’re really giving up a non-existent droplet dream in exchange for oceanic Oneness and unshakeable Peace. ACIM hints that our real Creations (as children of God) wait patiently for us; we’re so enthralled with our dream stories that we don’t have a clue as to what this really means, but fortunately we’re given a go-at-your-own-pace curriculum of forgiveness that presses the ‘undo button’ on ego’s script only as we agree to it. We have the free will that Star Trek’s “prime directive” of non-interference held in high esteem.

Inception: 1:21:45-1:22:03:
One of the many brilliant metaphors that the movie Inception conveys, is that it is our (dreamed) guilt which we’re afraid of. We (our separate egos) will go to any lengths to avoid looking at (because we know if we do it will disappear.) The help (of shared interests) to look at ego objectively (so that it vaporizes) is a pivotal concept that relies on our willingness to trust, knowing that we have taught ourselves badly in an isolated dream, divorced from the resources, insights and faculties that an Inclusive Awareness (by joining with our inner teacher of kindness) brings.

2nd Sleep & 2nd Dream:
It is a joyous ‘aha’ revelation to realize that all our special relationships are just dream shadows of the special relationship we’ve made with ego!
The deeper the dream, the more unstable, fearful, insane, and frenetic the diversions are to keep us from looking at our identity as a decision-making mind.

Inception:1:27:47-1:28:28 & ACIM:
Fleeing the mind is the ego’s ‘first line of defense’ by making up an entire dream cosmos, including our own ‘need machine’ bodies, that demand constant attention (distraction) so that the we’re identified with what’s on the dream screen instead of our power to choose which thought system we want to identify with as minds. The ego has us convinced that we need to pay total attention to its outer defense, which it erroneously believes will keep us from ever looking at the ‘inner shield of oblivion’ (the secret dream) of guilt over ‘killing god’ (the ego’s vulnerable and vengeful god, anyway.) The silly and laughable reality, like when Toto pulls back the curtain hiding the Wizard of Oz, is that we’re all truly innocent in reality, but the ‘special effects’ of our potent imaginations make the dream stories quite convincing and terrifying indeed (but only from within the ego’s distorted fantasy smokescreen.)

Inception: 1:42:56-1:43:25 & ACIM:
“The Forgotten Song” comes to mind; a spiritual nostalgia for true communion and homecoming that transcends words and any experience we could possibly have in the dream. This happy reminder (of our Total Oneness) is interpreted as fearful by egos. The ego strategy is often to divert our attention to another ‘false ladder’ home, convincing us that yet one more attempt to make the dream work will somehow succeed, like Tomas Vieira’s used car salesman metaphor that never gives up trying to con us into trying it’s specialness decoy and we keep falling for it… until we decide that there must be a better way.

Inception: 1:59:42-2:00:27 & ACIM:
We all know on even the deepest levels of dreaming, that this world is not real, yet our resistance to this idea goes all the way back to the original inception of dreaming, the original idea to be separate from All that Is.

Inception: 2:02:16-2:04:13
Both the ego (despite it’s best attempts to convince us the contrary) and Holy Spirit know that this world isn’t real. The difference in their agendas boils down to two completely opposite strategies to dis-invest in this surreal dream; the ego would have us to leave by death (it’s own doom of fear, identified with dream bodies and their attending body-personas), whereas our Teacher of Kindness would have us forgive the dreamer of separation, and happily, gently, and with total lovingkindness, release the imaginary walls of our droplet dream and return to the ocean of Oneness we never left.

No unfair treatment: 127 Hours

Last night, we watched the movie 127 Hours, which friends had recommended and justly garnered 6 Oscar nominations. James Franco does a great job of re-enacting the story of an wilderness adventurer (Aron Ralston) who appears to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Without spoiling the plot (too much), the account of his courage, stamina and ingenuity makes a fine caricature of the lengths to which we all go to try to establish and preserve an intact separate identity (with our bodies playing the starring hero role in the dream.) At the physically pivotal point in the film, he liberates himself from the limitation that appears to have held him captive. Prior to this, however, at what one might identify as the spiritual pivot point of the film, he chooses real freedom as he recounts to himself:

“You know, I’ve been thinking. Everything is… just comes together. It’s me. I chose this. I chose all this. … I’ve been moving towards it my entire life. The minute I was born, every breath that I’ve taken, every action has been leading me to this …” *

Perhaps this revelation is exactly what gives him the option to do what leads to the best possible outcome for this story, given the premise of the circumstances. We’ve all experienced these box canyon moments, when our choices have appeared to have been narrowed to just two; between feeling sorry for our self-imposed predicaments or set free by forgiving ourselves for the folly of feeling trapped.

Most of us run away from this depth of realization like the plague. Yet isn’t this exactly what any metaphysical system worth it’s pure non-dual foundation is gently reminding us of, 24/7? What if we were to freely abandon all thoughts of martyrdom for every dream event – from the most dramatic, as in this movie’s example – to the most seemingly trivial events that seem to disturb our peace? What if we looked down at the copy of the screenplay for the holographic movie of our lives, courageously examined the fine print at the bottom of the page, and saw our own signature? The only appropriate response would be to laugh, treat ourselves and each other (since we’re all perfect mirrors) with total kindness. As the protagonist in this film recounts favorite past life episodes of family, friends and life choices in a series of flashbacks, we get the impression that he realizes the true value of these relationships which transcend the special and specific incidents (or perhaps that’s just my projection onto the film? 🙂 To his video camcorder he shares “I love you guys … I’ll always be with you.”

In any case, I might not ever drink Sauvignon Blanc again. (You’ll have to see the film, if you haven’t already to appreciate this.)

*  (Thanks to the folks at IMDB for providing the quote, excerpted above.)

Inception and Forgiving the Dream We Made Up

UPDATE (29Aug2012): Here’s a new review of the movie Inception in response to an excellent article by Michael Murray and Kenneth Bok.

This past week, the illusion of the dream figure I call Bruce trekked across the street twice to watch the movie Inception. Like the Matrix series, I can skip the gratuitous violence, but enjoyed the IDEAS in the film immensely.

A quick update; I just saw this very cool clip which is almost like a ‘Cliff Notes’ vignette of the Inception movie in musical and special effects form; a fun rendition of “ Across the Universe (with the ‘Nothing’s Gonna Change My World’ lyric; a fave Beatles tune) by Fiona Apple; talk about calm in the center of the dream cyclone! 🙂

Update 9Feb2014: Dave Van Dyke reminded me that the lyrics to Enya’s song “How Can I Keep From Singing?” fit nicely with the Fiona Apple video.

Here’s a comment I just posted on my Facebook page about a review that hit many of the key ideas: waking up from dreams, projections, and yes, even forgiveness and unconscious guilt were mentioned (albeit briefly) in the film:

Just read a great review of the movie Inception; here’s my reply:

Great review: Making the leap of faith in a dream: Philosophical reflections on Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” (2010), thanks! There are numerous hints in the film about the importance of forgiving our projections (the people and situations the egoic mind uses to keep us in the dream of separation and duality); our kindnesses and shared interests are the totems that awaken us with a gentle “kick” out of the addiction to unconscious guilt as you mention in this paragraph:

“Thus, resolution has something to do with the retrieval and acknowledgement of a hidden or repressed truth, followed by the work of letting go. Unless this is done, the burden of unconscious negative emotions (e.g. fear, guilt, anger, etc.) will continue to suck your psychic energy, preventing you from functioning and thriving.”

I highly recommend the work of Ken Wapnick, Gary Renard, & Nouk Sanchez/Tomas Vieira as complements or intros to A Course In Miracles to explore the dream metaphor more deeply and how we can use true forgiveness as the universal totem for gently awakening from a nightmare we forgot we made up. When I walked into the theater to watch Inception, I laughed silently, realizing I was already at least a couple of dream/theater levels deep! 🙂

Another favorite ‘virtual reality’ genre film: Waking Life. In this animated film, the protagonist is given the suggestion that you can tell if you’re dreaming by flicking a light switch, and if the light goes on or off, then you’re not dreaming. Interestingly, I had a dream (of the nocturnal variety! 🙂 shortly after watching this movie, and in that dream, the light DID go on and off when I was toggling the switch in my dream within a dream world on a stairway landing! 🙂 Perhaps the only ‘real’ totems are those that help us gently laugh and kindly forgive ourselves for making the world up in the first place (undoing the dream of duality and separation.)

forgiveness totem shirt

make custom gifts at Zazzle

Addendum (added 27Nov2011):

When Ariadne finds Mal in the basement of Cobb’s memories, she starts to tell Mal her name but Mal cuts her off: “I know who you are.” How does Mal know who Ariadne is?

Since Mal is Cobb’s projection, if he knows her, then Mal should know her as well. If you’re looking at the film metaphysically, Mal (‘Bad’ or ‘Evil’ in Latin, French, Spanish and Portuguese) is the dream figure in Cobbs mind who symbolises his guilt. Guilt is undone by forgiveness. Ariadne symbolises innocence and forgiveness and shares this key with Cobb, telling him the only way to undo his guilt and free himself from  his dream-hell is to forgive both Mal and himself. She is thus recognised by Mal as her enemy, as her message of forgiveness will free Cobb from Mal’s control.


The “Penrose stairs” (with a woman perpetually picking up papers) that Arthur shows Ariadne is a reference to a lithograph print by the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher. The print is usually called “Ascending and Descending” or “The Infinite Staircase”, and was first printed in March 1960; Escher is well-known for his drawings exploring optical illusions and real architectural, mathematical, and philosophical principles rendered in fantastical ways.

Ariadne, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of King Minos of Crete and his queen, Pasiphaë. She aided Theseus in overcoming the Minotaur by giving him a ball of red fleece thread that she was spinning, so that he could find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. The name is also a reference to Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s setting of the myth for Richard Strauss’s opera Ariadne auf Naxos. The opera is a play within a play, just as the movie is a dream within a dream.

Marion Cotillard’s character is called ‘Mal’, short for name ‘Malorie’, a name derived from French word ‘malheur’, meaning misfortune or unhappiness. The shorter version ‘mal’ means wrong/bad or evil (when a noun) in French, as well as some other Latin-based languages.

Mal’s totem, a spinning top, is (probably) a reference to the Clifford D. Simak’s story ‘Ring Around the Sun’ where the spinning top is used as a way to skip from one parallel Earth to another (by way of helping characters to concentrate).

The first letter of each of the main character’s first names – Dom, Robert, Eames, Arthur/Ariadne, Mal, Sato – spell the word DREAMS.


Here’s where to get a DVD of the movie Inception.

forgiveness totem