Finally got a chance to see Austin Vickers film People vs The State of Illusion. As a former lawyer, he sets the story of the film in a trial and prison as metaphors for the prisons of belief we build for ourselves.
Like the film What the Bleep, it’s a series of experts talking about our personal reality, interspersed with the story of a man jailed for causing a fatal accident. The information comes fast, with quick edits from commentary to commentary. Also like What the Bleep, the (few) film critics generally hated it while the audience loves it. Anything that suggests we can have a direct effect on our reality is rejected by some outright.
We got Vickers himself for a Q&A afterwards. Judging by the questions, many people missed some of the main points in the deluge of info, but the subtlety of the message was also unfamiliar to many.
The key message is recognizing the difference between content and process. Most of the time, we ignore how we are relating to people and events, focusing on the what or content. What is being said, what is happening, and judging the what as good or bad. But if we’re unconscious of the process underlying the content, we’re unable to separate ourselves from it and are caught in a reactive mode. We feel like a victim.
If we take a step back and notice the process of the interaction, and under that, the process of how we’re internally responding, we begin to have choice in how we’re responding. I’ve spoken about this in a number of ways before. A deeper stepping back means the observer or witness mode. Then recognizing ourselves as the awareness in which the process is taking place. Then we see the meaning and judgements are what we add to it, our story, not what is actually taking place.
Unlike the film, he also framed it as learning to listen. What are we being called to do? This is aligning with the universe, God or whatever you’d like to call it.
The various speakers illustrated how we see the world says more about us than the world. Two you may have met in What the Bleep. Two others were a part of Princeton’s PEAR (“Scientific Study of Consciousness-Related Physical Phenomena”) project.
He noted (and the story illustrated) that if we see our behaviour as negative, it won’t change. We’re focused on the problem. Whereas if we ask what value the negative behaviour has for us (eg: drinking to mute feelings), we can see it as it is and can change. If we believe ourselves to be broken, we will remain so. Healing is much easier when we see ourselves as whole rather than broken.
Vikers observed that the clothes we’re wearing all started as an idea. And the chair we were sitting in, and the building, the city, the province, the country – all ideas. He said the Law of Attraction (The Secret) did not work from simple intention alone but rather from belief. Watching our process reveals what the underlying beliefs are. Expectations also point to beliefs.
On several questions, Vickers turned the question back on the questioner as they were not recognizing their own process [story] and resulting assumptions. Like using “we” to assume everyone thinks like me. It’s so ingrained that we may not even realize we’re doing it, assuming our stories about the world to be true. And because we identify with our beliefs, we associate them with ourselves. When they’re questioned, this can trigger ego defenses. We take it personally and are emotionally reactive. If we notice we’re reacting, it’s a good sign there’s something to notice and resolve. We can follow the feeling back to its assumption.
It’s the kind of film you may want to see more than once to digest. There’s a lot of information, some of which is framed uniquely. And it doesn’t summarize main points. The DVD evidently has another hour of footage from the source interviews too.