Dharma-Inspired Movie Review : Spider-Man 2
- Sacrifice | Destiny | Choice
Another "Enlightenment through Entertainment" Dharma-Inspired Movie Review:Casting the Web of Universal Compassion : Spider-Man 2
Plot Outline: Peter Parker is beset with numerous personal problems while Spider-Man confronts the brilliant Dr. Otto Octavius, who has been transformed into "Doctor Octopus" (aka, "Doc Ock"), a multi-tentacled menace. -imdb.com
Spider-Man - The Struggling Bodhisattva
Like a great Bodhisattva, Peter Parker (alter-ego Spider-man) renounced seeking love for himself out of love for others. Functioning as an anonymous Bodhisattva who "miraculously manifests" to save the day whenever help is needed, he could not stay too close to the very ones he loved the most, in fear of endangering them. In fact, even they did not know his secret identity. Perhaps the challenge is for us to be faceless Bodhisattvas to others, who readily help anyone without expecting any thanks. We see Spider-man repeatedly slandered by the very press he (Peter) works for! Are there any secret Bodhisattvas in our lives?
When Peter's spider powers seemed to be fading, he visited a doctor for a body check-up. Replying that he seems "very ok", the doctor suggested that "It's up here" psychologically, pointing at his head. Peter was probably losing confidence due to his internal conflict as to who he wants to be more - a totally ordinary person (like an unenlightened being with no Bodhicitta aspiration to help as many as possible), or to be Spider-man. Attempting to resolve his identity crisis by trying to live normally, he struggles not to help others when he sees them in need. Realising he could not deny his super powers and the still valid truth (uttered by his late Uncle Ben) that "with great power comes great responsibility", he resumes his altruistic mission as Spider-man. As Shantideva taught, all our unhappiness comes from wanting oneself to be happy, and all our happiness comes from wanting others to be happy. While we might be "happy" to some extent when we pursue selfish happiness, it never lasts. Vice versa, the more you care for others, the happier we all become. Ironically, Peter's reward at the end of the day was his winning of Mary-Jane, the love of his life, despite "giving her up" out of love to protect her.
As Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right!" Repeatedly chanting to himself "Strong focus on what I want!", Peter regained his confidence and powers as he concentrated his will. This is a demonstration of the power of the focused mind, which can be systematically trained through meditation. Indeed, as the Buddha says, "The mind is the forerunner of all things," This applies also to what we think we can and cannot do. Before we actually do anything, the mind must believe it can be done and be willing to do it.
Aunt May tells Peter, "I believe there's a hero in all of us. Gives us strength, makes us noble." She tells him that the people need a hero to set an example of righteousness. This ultimate hero in us is of our Buddha-nature, the Buddha in us. Spiritual cultivation is to unleash this Buddha from within, who is always in us, our true "self" to be actualised. As Peter proclaims, he will always be Spider-man.
Doc Ock - The Reborn Bodhisattva
Dr. Octavius used an inhibitor chip to prevent the mechanical "mind" of his robot arms from taking over his mind. Initially destroyed, the cold goal-focused machine mind seized control of him and unleashed his inner demon (personal "Mara"), overriding his original compassion, leading him to stop being process-oriented, justifying the ends of creating energy to "benefit others" through ironically ruthless violent means. As the Buddha taught, "Be master of mind, not mastered by mind." We either control our mind or we don't, allowing our defilements to triumph and create havoc. His robot arms were created in the first place to aid mankind, by being his extra helping hands, in a way like Guanyin Bodhisattva manifesting more hands of compassion, (metophorically 1000, to represent "countless") to reach out in all directions to aid others - but they transformed into demonic tentacles. Fortunately, he was able to exert the strength of his "mind over matter" and regained control near the end. The real inhibitor of evil is not in the chip, but in his mind. Sincerely repenting his mistakes, he sacrificed himself to save the city, dying a Bodhisattva at heart once again, as he uttered, "I will not die a monster." May none of us live or die monstrously!
Tobey - A Vege Bodhisattva
As demonstrated by Spider-man, it is very true that we "sometimes have to give up what we want the most", to make the world a better place. When we try to secure wealth or enjoyment, each for himself, there will be chaos in the world. We all need to be aware and act for the benefit of the whole if we want peace and harmony. Much of the world's ills, including violence and apathy, are due to an attitude of human self-interest and self-importance. We need to be awakened from this.
For instance, even though we may "love the taste of meat", it may be necessary to give it up if we want the world to be a better and less violent place. Meat consumption sows the seeds of violence. (By the way, giving up meat does not mean giving up food enjoyment. In fact, it is enjoying life and food in a true way.) Often, by giving up what we love for a higher good, we share and experience a higher love... which is what we seek deeply - none other than spiritual growth.
Incidentally, Peter encourages two kids to "eat more fruits and vegetables" when he was caught in the act of doing an amazing stunt to save himself when his bike was hit by a car. Tobey Maguire, who plays Peter Parker (and Spider-man) happens to be a vegetarian in real life!
-Last section adapted from article by Yeow (From "Vegetarian Society of Singapore": www.Vegetarian-Society.org)
-Other sections by Shian @ TheDailyEnlightenment.com