Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Watched Crash last weekend on the recommendation of a friend. Note: I give a few things away...

The Buddhists say that anger is the worst emotion - it takes us straightaway and without passing GO to the Hellworld. It is the most destructive to our own well-being (both here and in the hereafter) and the most likely to be passed on to others in an emotional contagion.

This movie shows the contagion, as one person passes their frustration and anger onto another, and on, and on, and then antidote to the contagion, that is, compassion, in ways rarely matched. The acting is superb. Don Cheadle plays a detective who takes it all on himself. There's a Tibetan practice of taking on other's suffering called tonglen, and Cheadle's character does it, doesn't know why, just that it's what he must do.

Crash also goes against the grain by making the characters complex. There are no strictly good characters, nor strictly bad. Y'know, the way life is, tho we're encouraged in so many ways to not know that, and to think of ourselves as good, and others as bad. Crash tricks us, in a way, by setting up some really loathesome characters, and some whom we're likely to think of as good guys. And then we're surprised. And even within the frame of the story, characters are forced to deal with this same situation.

One character experiences what is clearly enlightenment; he tries to murder someone, and when his attempt fails, he sees it all. The madness drove him right out through the top. "It's all OK," he says, over and over. That's what I think we don't realize. "It's all OK."

I'm troubled by thoughts of another kind of crash. But I can see the benefits in this way. We're insane; maybe it will take us right out through the top. One of my favorite Chogyam Trungpa books is Transcending Madness. Now that's what I'm talking about.

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