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"Like most of us, the characters don't claim to have everything figured out or to have all the answers."


Raymond Teague is the author of Reel Spirit: A Guide to Movies That
Inspire, Explore and Empower
, from Unity House. 

He is an award-winning
journalist, an editor of spiritual publications, a popular New Thought
speaker, and a lifelong movie buff. 

His book is available by clicking the "Buy the Book" link above or by clicking here.

  Raymond Teague, 
"Reel Spirit" Movie Reviews

Waking Life
(2001, 99 minutes, R)

"The ongoing WOW! is happening right now," exclaims a psychedelic man in this amazingly surreal, insightful, intelligent, questioning film.

The film itself is a "WOW!" - a revolutionary vehicle for examining the meaning of life and ultimate Truth, whatever it is, that is eerily realistic and amusingly comic book-like.

Through a new technique that involves filming live actors and then animating them, Waking Life not only captures our known reality but also revels in abstract thought and conversations about the nature of reality.

The plot is deceptively simple, but the structure opens up ideas and topics that are certainly not simplistic, at least to the human mind. 

The film, directed by Richard Linklater and written by him and members of the cast, follows one unnamed young man (played by Wiley Wiggins) possibly stuck in a dream in which he encounters an engaging variety of people with all sorts of opinions about life, spirituality, metaphysics, quantum physics, psychology, morals, and society.

What the film has to say about these topics is another "WOW!" - a virtual buffet feast of ideas rapidly served but not necessarily carefully prepared. That is, the characters' thoughts are sometimes reasoned and articulately presented, but sometimes scattered and spontaneous, off the top of their heads. 

Some ideas are rough, wild conjecture, and startling, from characters equally wild and startling (such as the man who sets himself afire "to let my own lack of a voice be heard"); these ideas can be difficult to digest. Other ideas seem seasoned and settling, from characters who obviously have contemplated much; these seem naturally pleasing at a gut level.

The really big "WOW!" is just having all these fascinating people wondering about life for an hour and a half and offering observations on important ideas basic to who we are and what we are doing on this planet. 

Like most of us, the characters don't claim to have everything figured out or to have all the answers. But it is enough -- a big enough -- that they have questioning minds and the desire to think about life itself. It's enough that they care about the Big Questions and not just the mundane world of matter, money, politics, and sexual relations.

Waking Life has the potential to jumpstart people to think more for themselves about the meaning of existence.

Here are some of the most intriguing "WOW!" explorations which the film artfully presents about what could be termed the waking life of our dreams:

"Your life is yours to create."

"When we communicate with one another and we feel that we have connected and we think we're understood, I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion . . . I think it's what we live for."

"I believe reincarnation is just a poetic expression of what collective memory really is."

"The quest is to be liberated from the negative, which is really our own will to nothingness . . . To say yes to one instant is to say yes to all of existence."

"The worst mistake that you can make is to think that you're alive when really you're asleep in life's waiting room."

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