A Beautiful Mind
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Realization: A Beautiful Mind (A Dharma Movie Review)
The slogan for "A Beautiful Mind" (http://abeautifulmind.com): "He saw the world in a way no one could have imagined."
I could almost feel his pain, undergoing the humiliating treatments and medications. Treatments that make one lose memory, that make a professor forget what he has studied. And memory loss is just one of his problems. I never suffered from schizophrenia, but as a person who suffered from depression, I could identify with John Nash (played by Russell Crowe) to a certain extent. I couldn't work, even though my work was something very important to me. Even when John went home after being discharged from the hospital, things were extremely difficult and had a relapse, almost killing his son.The first day John returned to Princeton University, things did not turn out well, but his wife encouraged him to try again the second day. Everyday was a struggle, as his hallucinations kept appearing. In fact, at times, every minute and second was a struggle. I used to feel this way too. Time would pass very very slow, as if "trying" to intensify my pain. I would try to tell myself, "Things will be just fine. I only need to bear with this for a while." But that "while" would pass ever so slowly. Perhaps only those that have experienced this would know exactly what I am talking about. It is a somewhat hellish experience- likened to hell as described in the sutras- suffering in hell is almost always long and gruelling. It is as if our perception of time slows down. Time is indeed an illusion, relative in speed to our mental states. Complacent gods lost in sensual enjoyment fall from the heavenly planes all too soon, with the depletion of their good karma, before they are ready to face their deaths, despite having more than enough time to learn the Dharma... while hell-beings can't bear another instant of living hell...
For those who had never experienced schizophrenia or depression, "A Beautiful Mind" does give an insight to the world of schizophrenics. Why do they behave in "strangely", talking to "themselves", being scared of "nothing"? In the movie, we are brought into the world of a schizophrenic, seeing through his eyes. We see the imaginary people that John sees, hear the voices that he hears. In fact, these imaginery people are so real that like John, we can't differentiate them from real people. We start to understand the behaviour of a schizophrenic. In one particular scene, John was trying to protect his wife from an imaginary person. To a person who can't see what he is seeing, it would appear as if he was trying to hit his wife. To a schizophrenic, the world is so different! This reminds me of a saying, "We do not operate on reality, but on our perception of reality." Insisting to a schizophrenic that his experience is unreal is as deluded as trying to convince a blind man that there is something called light. Thus, in not understanding the deluded, we ourselves are deluded. We are only perceive reality as much as our delusions allow us!
As one talking from personal experience, I would like to emphasize the importance of patience, love and compassion. Many people become frustrated with schizophrenics, asking why they can't pull themselves together. However, what a schizophrenic or depressed person needs most is patience, love and compassion, which is exactly what they unwittingly destroy with their seemingly incomprehensible actions. John almost lost his wife, had she not had strong love and patience. However, I believe many others had lost their loved ones in the process.
Looking at another level, doesn't this story illustrate the deception of illusions that we all suffer from? As unenlightened beings, we often take the unreal as real, non-existent as existent... And the unreal appear real to us, just as the imaginary people appeared to John. Now, doesn't it sound like we are all schizophrenic to different extents? Only the enlightened are truly awake then, and the path towards Enlightenment is the end to out mental diseases and "dis-ease."
P.S. Just in case you are not aware, John Nash is a "real" person. He received the Nobel Prize in 1994 (By the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences). If you are interested to know more about mental illness, you might like to read "The Noonday Demon: An Altas of Depression" by Andrew Solomon.
-Bai Lee: desserpedeno@...
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