Media of Awakening

Although films and TV programs are often divided into the well-known genres of comedy, drama, horror, action, etc., I have long been interested in renaming some genres with more pro-social spiritual terms such as the “victory” (see blog posted on June 22, 2016) and “awakening.” What makes the “awakening” genre unique is that throughout the plot, at least one character is rising to a higher awareness in consciousness and then acting upon that new vision. He or she, in effect, “awakens” to a higher truth and then life changes.

In one sense routine films and programs showing mini-awakenings are a dime a dozen: Hollywood characters who learn from their mistakes, who figure out how to sustain relationships, who heal life-long wounds with their parents, and who mature with age are commonplace in mainstream media. And there are also many characters who deliberately go on a pilgrimage or quest to heighten their self-realization and find peace of mind. These include trips to India (think Eat, Pray, Love), to Mecca (think Malcolm X), to Thoreau’s famous pond (think Walden), and most recently to Cape Cod (Year by the Sea).

In the latest feature, Karen Allen (yes, the same Karen Allen from Raiders of the Lost Ark thirty-seven years ago!) becomes an empty nester mom who needs some down time to find herself after her husband sells their home and her son is married. Her “mecca” is a small home on an island off Cape Cod and her unintended “gurus” are the eccentric mix of local characters who help her awaken to a sense of self-reliance and transcendence.

When she arrives in her new home, Joan (Allen), has no sense of her next steps and describes herself as “a boat adrift at sea with nothing to steady me.” But each natural venue and villager she befriends seems to teach her something; like the fisherman who, when asked if he is lonely all those long days at sea, replies, “no, the real loneliness is not knowing who you are.” Joan is forced to contemplate this homespun wisdom because her own awakening is in fact to her own latent identity. Once she can hear herself think, listen to the rhythms of nature, and surrender to a higher order, she begins to act like a new person.

Once this recovery of her original childlike identity becomes seminal to her experience, everything morphs for Joan–her self-confidence, her ability to help others, and her awkward, distant relationship with her husband. We discover that, although she is not fully awakened at the end of the film, she has awakened to the process of awakening itself. Thus she is posed to make future breakthroughs and to know a full life.

In her own words she learns to “welcome vulnerability” and to “ride the tide.” Ultimately, when her best friend, another Joan named Joan Ericson, is staring at a tombstone, Ericson sums it up for Joan by noting that on tombstones there is a dash between the date of birth and the date of death. “It’s what you do with the dash that matters.”

In one sense, Year by the Sea is the director’s love letter to Cape Cod, emphasizing the beatific seascapes and local color of Eastern Massachusetts. In another sense the script is about a character’s elevation in consciousness through a season of deliberate meditation like that of Thoreau at Walden. But as with Thoreau, Joan realizes that she was not trying to escape so much as seeking to discover. In her words “I was not running away from something but rather running to something.”

So it is with awakening. We are not so much fleeing the nightmares and illusions embedded within sleep as emerging into the light of a fresh day. Awakening means discovering a new order and genuine identity.

We are not so much running away from the false as running toward the true. And it does not take a year by the sea to awaken, it only takes a consistent passion for the reclaiming of one’s primal spirituality.

Join us for Primal Spirituality 1a and 1b – Blessing and Understanding

Learn to connect to the first two gateways of Primal Spirituality in our Primal Spirituality Course!

For two transformative weekends at beautiful Sunrise Ranch, you’ll learn the enlightened principles of emotional and spiritual intelligence to open the first two gateways of experience – Blessing and Understanding.

These courses consists of clear presentations and powerful experiential exercises to lead you into knowing your Primal Spirituality. Led by an experienced team of teacher-facilitators, these courses will help you on your journey to becoming on the outside what you are on the inside—a being of great wisdom and love.


Primal Spirituality 1a – Blessing – May 10-11

On May 10-11, we’ll be opening the first of the seven gateways – Blessing.

Blessing is the flow of Universal Love through the emotional body. Blessing connects a person to others and to the circle of life all around them. It also connects the human experience to the source of love, wisdom and life within each person.

Blessing heals the profound disconnect people feel from themselves and the world, which causes internal discord, disillusionment and low self-esteem. Blessing leads us to feel peace, confidence and joy.

Blessing isn’t an experience you can think yourself through, though once you know the formula, you can consciously allow it to transpire.


Primal Spirituality 1b – May 17-18 – Understanding

The gateway of understanding allows a person to see what most people can’t see – the inner landscape of the human experience. This gateway is all about having a conscious understanding of people’s experiences including your own – to see emotional experiences without judgement.

Understanding brings spiritual intelligence – a awareness of the powerful creative forces that drive the human experience. When you understand these forces, you can harmonize with them and guide them masterfully for optimum results.

The gateway of understanding includes being understood. It includes the ability to let your guard down and be vulnerable to yourself and others. It is the willingness to expose your emotional experience to yourself, so you can understand yourself and gain emotional intelligence.

Understanding is an antidote to emotional disconnection. When we become a compassionate witness to the human experience, a closed heart opens up.


How will your life change after you participate in these courses?  

If you want to overcome subconscious resistance to your fulfillment and happiness…

Embrace the courage to fully be who you are…

Engage the deepest desires of your heart and unleash your brilliance…

Then you need to register for Primal Spirituality 1a and 1b now!


Pricing and details

The Blessing course is May 10-11, and the Understanding course is May 17-18. You may choose to attend one or both of the courses, with a discount if you attend both. Lunch is included and accommodations are available here if you’d like to experience an overnight stay at our gorgeous location. Pricing is as follows:

  • 2-day event: Early Bird $225 / Regular $275
  • 4-day event: Early Bird $350 /Regular $400


Alternative payment options

We believe that money should never stand in the way of getting the spiritual education you desire. That’s why we offer worktrade as well as scholarships to our courses. We also offer non-profit rates for our accomodations.

To make reservations or discuss alternative payment options, just reach out at 1-877-786-0078. Don’t wait – limited spots are available.

RBG, Malala, Elda Hartley and the Great Women in Media

Have you heard of Elda Hartley? Working out of her home in Cos Cob, Connecticut, Elda directed, produced, obtained, and promoted literally hundreds of spiritual films until her death at the age of ninety in 2001. She created Hartley Films from which one may screen hundreds of films about virtually every well-known spiritual practice, religion, Eastern philosophy, new age thinker, and visionary you can imagine.

Beginning in Broadway and Hollywood as a starlet, Elda later made a documentary film about Alan Watts, and quickly realized she was hooked on creating films featuring spirituality. Henceforth her films were documentaries featuring the leading visionaries of her day from Margaret Meade to Jean Huston.

If you go the Hartley Foundation’s website, you can all but become lost in the almost unlimited screenings of films of inspiration and worship. Elda’s ongoing voice through her films is just one of the unacknowledged women’s voices which made a major difference in media about our primal spirituality.

If you are interested in women’s films about rather than by spiritual leaders, you can find documentaries and features about everyone from Queen Esther, who is honored at Purim, and was born 2600 years ago, to Marianne Williamson who is very much alive today. And if you consider celebrities like Oprah to be spiritual, and many people do, then you could easily spend a lifetime watching film by and about spiritual female leaders.

Slowly but surely Hollywood is also beginning to acknowledge female genius in all the primary creative roles. For the first time this year a female cinematographer was an Oscar nominee and director Greta Gerwig became the fifth woman to be nominated for an academy award. You can view documentaries like Shooting Women (an unfortunate title) about other leading women creators in Hollywood. Throughout film history creative film-makers such as Leni Reifenstahl and Maya Deren have been acknowledged as artistic auteurs but a large number of women have been locked out of important roles, nominations, and awards.

In the age of Harvey Weinberg, Bill Cosby and so many others who harassed rather than promoted women, it is important to realize just how many women have strongly contributed to the media industries, to independent media and a far larger world of the arts, journalism, and other forms of global media. Indeed there are now many conferences, workshops, courses, and much more about many aspects of women’s leadership within the media.

The advent and advancement of women in every genre is pronounced. Even in predictable genre films such as “action heroes”, the new Wonder Woman holds her own with Batman and other blockbuster prototypes and even within male super-hero films like The Black Panther, the female leads are now highly intelligent warriors rather than eye candy or romantic heartthrobs. And in comedies, a large numbers of comic geniuses (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, etc.) have come forward to create their own vehicles and are steering the box office their way.

To my view, even the seemingly over-the-top recent women’s ensemble films such as Book Club (which employs the same “older women staying young” themes as TV shows like the Golden Girls, serve a purpose. When the combined talents of Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Candace Bergen, and Diane Keaton are showcased in a script which says in effect “you’re still a valuable, romantic, sexy woman when you’re seventy-five”, it can be empowering to senior women who have been told by society that they are no longer attractive nor important.

To my view the most substantial documentary advancing women in 2018 is RBGabout 85-years-young Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It is not only a film about a transformative woman of justice, but it is also about the women’s dignity and rights she has advanced and protected. Moreover, the film is made by two strong women who co-direct–thus modeling for men the type of cooperation rather than competition which is possible in the creation of important art.

Since RBG seldom mentions religion nor uses spiritual language, I’m sure there are those who do not see it as a “spiritual” film at all. I respectfully disagree. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is shown to be a woman of steel with unflagging integrity who had been upholding social justice against great odds for over six decades. To my view she counters the human nature of others at every turn with her own balanced, innate wisdom and spirit. Her primal spirituality looms large whether identified or not.

Such leaders of ethical fortitude are substantial contributors to the spiritual leadership of the planet whether they use secular language or never worship in public. Ginsberg’s constant high standards, inspiration of the next generation of women lawyers, protection of the marginalized and denigrated, and ability to be a strong voice for truth-telling and fairness all place her quite high on the list of “most valuable players” in the public sector. I strongly recommend RBG.

Another current film about a young woman of justice is called He Named Me Malala. The 90 minute feature documentary by Davis Guggenheim tells the backstory and up story of the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai. A devout Muslim, Malala is far more overtly spiritual than Ginsberg. But like Ginsberg, her primary commitment is serving the larger community and especially women and girls.

At a very young age Malala joined her father in taking a strong stand for the education of girls and women in her native Pakistan, a practice frequently forbidden and punished by the Taliban. Malala was shot pointblank in the face by a would-be Taliban assassin for her stand on universal education and she narrowly survived to tell her story and become a spokesperson for children’s education. While still a teen-ager she received some of the greatest honors and tributes, including honorary degrees and most major Peace prizes, in the world. Like her autobiography entitled I am Malala, the film He Named Me Malala not only tells the backstory of Malala’s childhood and cultural roots, but also tells the “up story” of her values, strong faith in Allah (the Muslim word for God) and dedication to becoming a voice for women, children, education, and a larger Divine spirit.

It is high time that we paid tribute to such women as Malala and Ruth Ginsberg, and to the leadership role of many women in film and in global events. Indeed, Hollywood and world media have increasingly paid tribute to many strong women– from Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth to Norma Rae and Winnie Mandel–over the past century. But there is a growing awareness that so many significant women’s narratives are yet untold. Many great unrecognized women are also great media makers.

Fortunately a new wave of inspiring women–such as Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Malala –have attracted substantial media attention as they have become substantial voices in the current rising tide of change. Concurrently, women such as Elda Hartley and co-directors of RBG,Betsy West and Julie Cohen, have raised the bar in making films about such women and the spirit behind them.

It is also significant that many spiritual groups and religions which once referred to God or other names for the Creator as “He” now often refer to “She” or honor both “Mother God” and “Father God” or use similar language. The Divine Feminine is essential not only in the content and process of media that matter but also is a huge creative Source of the medium of light that we are.

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