True, I don’t normally watch a movie like Sharkboy and Lavagirl, but like Spy Kids, things about it caught my attention for their Buddhist significance as my roommate watched it in our dorm. The movie revolves around a boy named Max who invents a dream world which he records in his dream journal. One day, after a particularly bad day of school, people from his dream world, Sharkboy and Lavagirl, find him at school and take him his dream world.
“Life is but a dream.”
Buddhists have sayings, “Life is a dream,” “Reality is an illusion.” This is often taken to mean that whatever’s going on isn’t real. We’ve just created it with our minds and not being able to get out of it is a sign of weakness. This is not true. On the contrary, Buddhist really believe something more like this, “A dream is reality.” The problem is the differences between Western and Buddhist languages, such as Pali, Chinese, or Tibetan. When I took Exploring World Religions, Eastern Civilization, and Religions of the East at Johnson County Community College all with the same teacher summed up the worldview of the Chinese, “Experience vs. Order.” The way these languages work I guess is that the category something belongs in doesn’t precede the thing itself. For example, saying, “I am tall,” is basically the same thing as saying, “Tall is me.”
Buddhists don’t believe reality is an illusion. Rather something starts as an illusion and becomes reality. A Buddhist saying states that, “With our minds, we create the world.” Take a child who’s been told for years that he will misbehave by his parents and he later does. Children learn from elders.
Another example would be the process of creative visualization made popular in the West by writer Shakti Gawain. One simply visualizes something happening for it to take place. The theory being is that it trains people to do the things that cause these things to happen. Celebrities such as Tiger Woods, Will Smith, and Jim Carrey stated they have all used visualization to help them achieve their goals. Will Smith imagined no longer living in poverty and that became a reality with his film and television successes. Jim Carrey stated once that in 1994, he wrote a check to himself for “services in acting.” In 1995, he received that amount of money he wrote to himself for starring in the movie Dumb and Dumber.
The world we inhabit is more or less a product of our minds. Saying this, it should be noted that it does not mean it is the product we intended. But what goes on in the world is more or less a product of what our mind has believed. When we fear the results of our tests, they may turn out to be unsatisfactory. We may think we’re going to find love, but really we’re only doing it because we think if we don’t, we’ll be miserable, and often times we are. An Eastern axiom states that the world is a projection. Take a social worker whose performance is called unsatisfactory and the social worker believes him and she takes it to be a remark about her personally. She may not be the one who called herself that in the first place, but in believing so, she considers her critic to be making her feel unhappy with her performance, when really the only one making her feel so unhappy with herself is her. Maybe she reacted that way because she is unhappy with herself. Be defining herself as a social worker, her feelings of how other’s perceive her are based on how they see her doing her job. Without this view of herself that she has created, no coworkers comment could be able to hurt her so much inside.