Four Spiritual People Converge in Inspiring Short Filmed in India
I spent about a year living in India. It was a transformational year in which the lessons I accumulated over the last years came together and converged in one unified understanding of life that is The Convergence, a short film I made that tells the story of four people: a seeker, a devotee, a healed woman, and a realized sadhu who share their individual spiritual journeys to achieve one powerful understanding.
The original concept of this video is based on the last six years of my life as a “seeker.” but it wasn’t until I had the chance to observe my incredible friends Lea and Shivat hat it all came together–both forces of nature and beautiful loving souls.
As I watched them, I allowed myself to pause and rest. I allowed myself to observe my inner dialogue too, but also, I allowed myself to observe other people’s experiences and interpretations. I wanted to have one piece of evidence of the unseeing; the invisible. I discovered that the best way I could convey the invisible would be through art: by writing a poem, creating a song or making a film. A philosophical interpretation, a list of reasons, or an analysis of some kind would have fallen short to describe what I experienced. This feeling of wanting to show rather than to tell my experience and my observations of Lea and Shiva gave me the idea of making short films and to create a video series that I have named Living Aimfully.
It is my way to leave the things of the heart to the heart, and things of the mind to the mind, but also, to attempt a crossover anyway (watch the second part of the video after the credits). I am a rebel of thought, I suppose. But also I am a rebel of the heart.
Shiva is a formidable twenty-five-year-old yogi who is devoted to his practice as much as he is devoted to life itself. He inspired me to create the devotee character later played by another good friend, Mastu. Mastu is a local guy who lives in Rishikesh and whom I met many years ago. Lea is a French dancer whom through self-inquiry, practice and rest healed herself. She achieved a higher understanding of life that is hard to explain in words. You have to see it to understand it. I could see my own reflection in her, and thus in a way, I created this video for her: So that she could have a mirror and a reminder of how far she’s come. We lived together in Rishikesh for many months and I watched them evolve. Similarly, I watched the town of Rishikesh take hold of me and create the space for the understandings within myself that I was searching for.
The concept of the video evolved into a poem after a serendipitous conversation with Satya, a musician and a well of knowledge and experience who lived in a commune with Osho for thirteen years. I had lunch with Anurag, a local filmmaker who introduced me to him. Among walking many forms of the spiritual path, Satya shared with me a clearer interpretation of what I have been experiencing for the last few years. He introduced me to a concept that I later developed into a theme within The Convergence. He pointed out that us, mostly Westerners, would travel as far as Rishikesh and would never go any further than that. Rishikesh, a physical location that plays a metaphorical place in his description, is a holy town in the Himalayas often referred to as the yoga capital of the world. He then continued to explain that conversely, the sages and sadhus living in the mountains may only be willing to descend only as low as Rishikesh. In a way, for most of us, this is as high as we’ll ever ascend and for the enlightened ones, this is as low as they’ll ever descend. Metaphorically speaking, that is. I loved the idea and implemented it as a theme in the video.
As a musician, Satya ji was very lyrical when giving his explanation and that inspired me to turn this film’s narration into a poem. If you pay attention, the four voices take turns to narrate a poem that describes the four paths to understanding that overlap with the experience of living in this holy town.
I decided to adapt their storylines with a version of mine, and with the help of many travelers and local friends who came to the aid, we shot the video. I wanted to show the essence of Rishikesh without mention the town once. I wanted for the people who have experienced Rishikesh to say, “Yes! I recognize that ghat!” or “This brings so many memories.” The video features scenes in the streets, the famous Laxman Jhula Bridge, the Sunset Ghat where musicians improvise jam sessions at the end of the day while the sun sets behind the mountains overlooking the powerful Ganga River. I wanted to describe the Rishikesh experience without talking about the town at all.
Lastly, as an Advaita Vedanta student myself, I felt that it would be of value to deepen into the philosophical understanding that the video tries to convey. Why is it that we are one? How can we, with our intellects, our experiences, our intuition and our feelings gain the realization that so many search for endlessly in books, workshops, and classes. I believe that by realizing this simple, yet profound, understanding we can gain the liberation we seek. Even when we don’t know we are searching for it to begin with.
Thousands of yogis, travelers and wanderers come to India to heal. I have seen first-hand what triggers this transformation, and the journey to go from craving healing, seeking healing, to as Lea at the end of her journey and as the character she plays at the end of the video, comes to become healed, or rather, realize she already was healed because she already is perfect and divine. Similarly, the seeker, played by me, comes to understand that the one thing he was searching for was inside him all along.
The manifestation of God is the universe and all the particles that form us. We are the universe, and thus we are God. We are God, therefore, inherently pure and divine. However, without a calm mind, we struggle to realize it. At least at the beginning. Clarity allows us to perceive the ever-present connection with the divine that it’s always us–but not all that obvious at times.
The drops of water flowing through mountains and valleys take different paths and names: Ganges, Nile, Amazon, Mississippi, etc. But when these rivers reach the ocean, they lose their identities. The ocean has many names as well. Some people call it God, Cosmos, Universe, Brahman, Allah, Father, Mother, Pachamama, Waheguru, Yahweh, the light, etc. Both, the ocean and the drops of water that form it are one and the same. Only with a clear mind can we, the drops of water, realize we are the ocean too. Similarly, no river can say to the others that they are flowing in the wrong direction. Only when a river reaches the ocean can it gain the perspective to realize that the other rivers are arriving there too.
Religions and spiritual paths are trying to help us achieve this peace of mind needed to perceive the ocean. We might choose the path of healing, the path of devotion, the path of knowledge, or many other paths. Whatever path we chose to help us lead a peaceful life, it will bring us clarity of mind too. If we stick with it, it will lead us to the realization that we are God. And when we realize we are God, we can finally accept that there is nothing wrong with us. Then, our true life begins. This is for me The Convergence.
Given by the reactions I’ve received, this video might have touched some core fibers in some of us. There must be glimpses of similarities; a familiarity of the known and an uplifting reminder that the human experience is universal: We all go through the same things. I attempted to make that recognizable in The Convergence.
Similarly, the search for transcendence is universal. And also the highest motivator. Abraham Maslow placed it at the top of his pyramid, right at the top of self-actualization in his theory of human motivation, the famous Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs we study in high school.
We all are striving to transcend, whether we know it or not. With this video, I wanted to encourage people to continue to strive in that direction, following the path that resonates with them. But I wanted to emphasize the importance of walking the path with a bit more awareness. Using our capacity to observe is awareness and observations of the heart are art. I don’t know if I was able to do either, but with all my heart, with this video, that is what I strived for.
Which brings me to my next comment. Living Aimfully is a concept I started thinking about and practicing a few years ago. Successfully at times; unsuccessfully at others. For me, it is a reminder to live with awareness. To pay attention to my thoughts and my feelings, and the ones of others. To pay attention to the world around me, and within me. I didn’t want to use the word awareness, because, honestly, I don’t know what it means. But what I know is that many years ago I felt I was lost. I felt I was living aimlessly. I used to pray to the gods to help me live with no more aimless wonder, and with the years that prayer turned into asking the gods to help me live aimfully, with aim, with purpose, with intention. It became my daily prayer and by resolute action, I fulfilled that promise to myself every day and Living Aimfully became a lifestyle.
After a year of rest, my aim has gained more clarity than ever before, and this is where the video series comes into place. I discovered that I want to share what I know with the world and I want to continue to discover along the way in my pursuit of Living Aimfully.
This video series is my attempt to share with you how I perceive the world and what I learn along the way in my pursuit of Living Aimfully. The first episodes explore India and how people experience God with purpose. This is not just about praying in a temple to a couple of Gods—which is fun—but, for example, the transcendental result empathy and compassion have to help us get closer to liberation, the ways in which we perceive the light that is all around us, and sure, some stories about why yoga is good for you. This series is meant to share with you, and perhaps show you, different perspectives on life’s understandings and reflections. This second episode describes different spiritual paths arriving at the same understanding.
The first two episodes are in a way the series pilot. I experimented with two different formats of story-telling. The first video is formatted as an immersive documentary. This second video is more artistic in nature–like a short film. It was scripted and acting was involved. It helped me tell exactly want I wanted to tell and not depend just on research and what I find the day of the shooting. This was my pilot to what the series is going to look like. It was my way to teach myself how to make films too. Filmmaking school seems like a good idea, but at the moment it would take too long and I am eager to Live Aimfully now.
My intention is to eventually pitch it to Netflix or some large content platform like them. (Netflix if you are listening, I have a pitch for you!). I have plans as to what I want to do with this, and I think there will be interest. Also, for the first time in my life I want to share what I know with the world and I may have found my medium. After all, I always had a video camera with me growing up in the 1990s when we didn’t have smartphones, mind you.
The seeker, the healed woman, and the devotee are the characters that walk up to this convergence. In the film you see them walking upwards in the stairs and roads. The sadhu is portrayed walking down from the mountains.
As some people might know, the Ganga River is a confluence of sacred waters running through sacred lands. Babas might come down as far as this town, from their hilltops, caves, and mountains. And most of us, travelers, seekers, tourists, locals, yogis or otherwise, might only climb up as far as Rishikesh. This is a metaphor for the place in our spiritual journeys and practice as well. There might be a limit as to how high we want to go. Very few of us would choose to live in a cave and go into samadhi for ten years, right? So this place, metaphorically and physically, it is the convergence of ascending and descending. But always, together as one consciousness, because at the end of the day, that’s what we are: one.