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tolle-bain_quote-t“Movies really have replaced what traditionally were mythologies, that every culture had their mythological beliefs and their collective ‘stories.’ There is now the possibility for movies to embody that arising new state of consciousness.”

-Eckhart Tolle

Milton’s Secret is a live-action film for the whole family currently in production. Based on a book by Eckhart Tolle (author of The Power of Now and A New Earth) and Robert Friedman (publisher of Conversations with God), the film will bring the wisdom of one of the most important spiritual teachers of our time to a mainstream, family audience. Here, director Barnet Bain and Eckhart Tolle discuss the power of movies to transform us.

Q: How do you define transformational entertainment or “mindful” movies?

Barnet Bain: Transformational entertainment is a story that both entertains and uplifts you, not simply because you are inspired, but because it reveals the mechanics that allow people to have more effective, loving lives, lives of more connection, community, and communion.

Eckhart Tolle: The power of movies lies in the fact that it enables the viewer to enter the reality, to some extent, of the characters. The characters get challenged. Through getting challenged, the character arrives at insights or discovers potentials that he or she didn’t know they had. As the character changes in the movie, it rubs off on the viewer, so the viewer also goes through that change. When the movie comes to an end, you are not totally the same person you are when you started the movie.

Q: How did the two of you become interested in transformational entertainment?

ET: I love watching movies. My main life interest and purpose is to bring spiritual awakening into this world, to be a vehicle for the flowering of consciousness, to help people to live more consciously with less unnecessary suffering and self-generated unhappiness. I became interested in movies that have the power to transform consciousness.

BB: I’ve been making spiritually-themed movies for a very long time. At the beginning of my career I made a movie as a screenwriter, The Jesus Movie. That was the first job I ever had after film school. I was hired to write the screenplay for Warner Brothers. Jesus has gone on to be the most widely seen movie in the world. It’s pretty unbelievable. I thought it was a great opportunity to make my way through a career. Looking back, I can see that film as a piece in an ongoing puzzle that all fits together in a way that is so perfect that it never could have been planned. Long before I realized I was exploring something, that I was looking to develop something in myself, I was just naturally drawn to movies and entertainment and stories that had a core element of spiritual discovery.

Since then, I have produced What Dreams May Come. I was a writer and producer for The Celestine Prophecy and Homeless to Harvard, which was nominated for three Emmys, including Best Movie.

Q: What is mindfulness to you? Why is mindfulness so important today?

BB: Mindfulness is developing an awareness of the thoughts and feelings that we move through without getting drawn into the meanings or taking action or getting sucked into the story. Like house guests, eventually they all leave. We become more attuned to being a container for those things and less identified with them. Now we begin to have a relationship with all our structured imaginings. In doing so, life begins to take on, from my perspective, a more enchanted, dreamy experience. What is possible for us begins to expand because we are not so rigidly contained by the way our thoughts and imagination have been structured.

tolle-bain_quote-bMindfulness has never been more important considering how the events of the world move in such an accelerated, frantic time. Our attention goes from here to the next thing to the next thing, and we’re triggered from one response of fear to one of connection to the threat of loss. And so it is more critical than ever, if you believe as we do, that our experience of reality is the result of the magical alchemy of the creation of our thoughts, our beliefs, our decisions, our attitudes, our feelings. All of these are, for the most part, unconscious. Mindfulness allows us to watch these thoughts and choices and decisions without being triggered and having to take action and give meaning. Suddenly we are able to see beyond the waterline to the iceberg. We are seeing with x-ray glasses what is below the surface of the way we do life.

Q: How did you begin this journey of working together?

ET: People had been writing to me and saying, “Can you write something for children?” I felt I couldn’t quite do it myself because I never had children. It’s harder for me, never having brought up a child, to enter the universe of the child. That’s where my co-author, Robert Friedman, came in and helped.
When the suggestion came to me that I could co-author the book, I remembered all the letters and emails that I had received in the last few years from parents asking for that kind of thing, but I never really felt up to it myself. Now I’m glad it happened that way. I never went out and said, “I want to do this.” I never do that. I wait for things to come to me, either within or without, and I go along with it.

More and more teachers are also bringing that state of presence. I’ve received more and more emails from teachers saying that they are beginning to teach presence in their classroom without necessarily calling it that or calling it anything, not as part of the official curriculum. It’s like an underground movement not yet officially recognized by the educational authorities—at least not as far as I know!


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