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GODFREY REGGIO'S "NAQOYQATSI":
A REQUIEM FOR HUMANITY

In the whole history of cinema there have been very few films, of which it can be said that they are essential, that they hold deep significance for human beings. This is one of them. Through the mere act of watching this film humanity divides itself, as each human being reveals the very state of his soul by his reaction to the film. The film itself remains above reproach, untouched by the reaction of humans, because it is the work powerfully inspired and guided by the Light at this critical time in our history, the End-Time.

The great director of the Qatsi Trilogy Godfrey Reggio said that his films hold up a mirror to humanity. And what a monstrous reflection of ourselves do we behold in the mirror of "Naqoyqatsi"! Grinning back at us with an almost unbelievable degree of self-satisfaction are images of ourselves at the top of the ladder of human success in various fields: sports, technology, commerce and - oh, yes - cinema. The breathtaking montage of these all-too-familiar images works itself up into a kind of frenzied celebration of our human "achievements" (complete with fireworks) until there arises from within us a disturbing question: "What is wrong with this picture?.." An answer to this question is actually provided right away - on the film's soundtrack. Instead of the usual accompaniment to these types of images (such as "I did it my way" and the like) the music here is like a slow lament or a quiet weeping, in other words, a requiem. It is a requiem for humanity, which is so far gone, that it is no longer even capable of noticing that all its "accomplishments" belie a woeful state of spiritual poverty. There is no question about it because the one unmistakable sign of spiritual poverty is there on the screen for everyone to see - vanity. In close-up after close-up we see the expressions of boundless self-satisfaction on human faces of different races and different professions until it all begins to feel rather like a freakish horror show.

A chill runs down one's spine, when one sees the Hollywood industry portrayed in its true likeness: digitalized images of Hollywood stars, stepping out of their limos, waving to the crowd, looking like animated mannequins with self-enthrallment written all over their faces. Is the rest of us much better, though? All is vanity, all has become vanity, as the most telling sign of our failure to realize our spiritual destiny. Nowhere is this more evident than in the most popular pastime: sports. Faces of athletes with expressions of the most intense concentration pass before us. What is the purpose of this intensity? What lofty task awaits them?..Alas, it is not the goal commensurate with the position a human spirit should occupy in Creation! Through sports the spirit is forced into petty accomplishments, which waste its power. Still worse, it entices other spirits to succumb to squandering their time as well in mindless observation. Whole stadiums of people cheer in imbecilic joy. When later we see a face of a baby - so much hope in that face, such great expectations - and then this image dissolves into a face of an ecstatically cheering fan at some stadium, one can't help wondering: "Is this why a man is born into this world?" Using images we have all seen a million times before, Reggio manages to create such meaningful montage out of them that the gravity of our human predicament strikes us with a new force.

It is like a blow to the solar plexus every time the film switches into another one of its sections with violent imagery. There is no denying a tragedy that human beings are killing each other. Yet the more one watches this, the more one begins to sense that there must be an even more profound tragedy taking place behind all this violence. It is not the violence of man against man, but the violence of man against his own spirit. It is man standing in opposition to himself, being a total stranger to himself, because he has failed to concern himself enough with the cultivation of the spiritual qualities of his being. This type of violence (the violence directed against the living spirit within us) has gone unrecognized, and yet it is the root cause of all the physical violence that manifests around us. The underlying tragedy in the world today is the suppression and, in many cases, even complete suffocation of the spirit, which is practiced daily by each one of us on ourselves. Only the degree of this violence differs and also the choice of forms aimed at deadening our own spirits.

Sports is a weapon of choice for many and is widely regarded as a "triumph of the human will", where as in reality it is a voluntary suppression of spiritual qualities in preference to the physical ones. It is just another way of mutilating the spirit. This is superbly illustrated in the film, when a face of an athlete in his moment of "triumph" dissolves into a face of a woman in excruciating pain... Cinema is another weapon with which the human spirit gets clobbered today. It is all the more alluring because it postulates as "art", "enlightenment", "spirituality". In reality, the films that give true nourishment to the human spirit can just about be counted on the fingers of two hands, and the majority of the rest nourish only human vanity, ambition, sentimentality, sensuality and many other qualities that effectively prevent the spirit's emergence, to say nothing of its blossoming. This is easily proven by one simple observation: whenever a film of any spiritual merit comes out (once in a blue moon), it is invariably labeled as "pretentious" in many quarters. This was the case with Tarkovsky and it is the case with Reggio. As a matter of fact, this tactic has become so effective in scaring the upcoming filmmakers from pursuing the more profound themes that many of them declare in advance that they do not wish to be "pretentious". They obviously do not mind being shallow, loose and vulgar, so long as no one whispers that frightful word "pretentious"...

Yet another form of violence against the spirit is the imposition of religious dogma upon it. This is illustrated in the film by the rotating symbols of various religions, which are depicted as indistinguishable from popular commercial symbols (BMW, Pizza Hut etc.). The music underlining these images with its driving, apocalyptic pulse makes it abundantly clear that the religions of this world do not provide a way out for the oppressed spirit.The spirit can never unfold under the rigidity of blind faith, which is in contradiction to the Laws of Nature. This has been the greatest disservice to the Creator, Whose Will actually manifests in the strict logic of the Natural Cosmic Laws. Only the Knowledge of these Cosmic Laws, conveyed in simple terms, can show the spirit its way to beneficial development and liberation. Such Knowledge is given in the book, which is mentioned throughout this site, "IN THE LIGHT OF TRUTH: THE GRAIL MESSAGE" by Abd-ru-shin.

Other forms of violence against the spirit, which are illustrated in the film, include commercialism, technology and the elevation of physicality to a position of supreme importance. All through the film the music, one might say, co-creates the imagery. This unprecedented nature of the collaboration between the director Godfrey Reggio and the composer Philip Glass is well known by now, but in this film it seems to have been taken to a an even higher level of creative fusion. The music evokes, laments and threatens together with the images. In the cello solos (magnificently played by Yo-Yo-Ma) it becomes the solitary voice of the one in despair, the voice crying in the wilderness. It is the voice of the mutilated spirit within every individual. At times this voice seems to be on the verge of breaking down, unable to go on, tapering off as though stifling a sob... This happens especially poignantly during one sequence that looks like a retake of "Koyaanisqatsi". This self-reference is very moving, because in that first film of the trilogy there was still a feeling of hope for humanity, where as here in the last film of the trilogy it is made clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have sealed our own fate - so the cello solo over this Koyaanisqatsi-like sequence is particularly mournful and bleak. It continues to lament all through the sequence with the animals running away from mankind and also through the pan of celebrities, where the famous and the infamous are grouped together without any distinction. This is startling at first, until one realizes that not one human being (not even someone as exceptional as Albert Einstein) has been able to attain to the full potential of spirituality. And the tragedy of this is underscored once again by the requiem-like music of Philip Glass.

But the film goes beyond this requiem-like lament for humanity. It also gives a glimpse into what awaits us as a result of our failure to become spiritualized beings. The last violent section of the film opens with an image of a gun pointed straight at the viewer, releasing its bullet at a point-blank range. This one image may be regarded as a summation/culmination point of the entire film. In one master-stroke it illustrates the Justice that awaits mankind. And if we had been truly experiencing the film within us, we can do nothing other than bring this same indictment against ourselves. Even if we know nothing about the workings of the Cosmic Laws, which unfailingly deliver to us the Returning Reactions of our own doings, we must sense in that one moment of truth, as the Cosmic Gun is pointed at us, the full gravity of our situation. In a stroke of genius, this one image makes it clear where to place the blame for the present state of the world. All of us are to blame, because the failure to develop spiritually up to the level set by the Creator is a common failure that we all share. The one thing that still matters is the degree to which we come to recognize our personal share of guilt in this collective failure. The relentlessly driving, apocalyptic music pulsating underneath the stereotypical images of a happy family life leaves no room for illusion that the family can somehow serve as an escape. There can be no escape from who we are: spiritual retards, dummies. One of the most powerful images in the film is the slow-motion footage of dummies in an airplane crash. Slowly raising their arms upwards, they look as though they are imploring for help. Is this not a portrait of ourselves? We can send a rocket into space, but we have no idea how the same Natural Laws were meant to help our spirits, how these same Laws influence our upliftment or our downfall, and how the Creator meant us to use Them not for the development of gadgets, but for the development of our souls. Now we besiege Him for help, where as He had long since given us everything we needed - but by not discovering the proper use for His gifts we have grown dumb, blind and deaf to all His Calls and all His Help.

We are essentially dummies in this Creation, possessing no Knowledge of how the Natural Laws apply to our spiritual life, we have no ears to hear Him with and no eyes to see His help with. So we will wait for help in vain - unless we speedily concern ourselves with acquiring the Knowledge of how to hear Him and also how we came to be such failures. We need to discover the original cause of our present predicament, to learn precisely where in our long history we have taken the wrong turn. For all the violence and devastation we see around us today are only the consequences of that original wrong turn. And in order to discover that wrong turn it is necessary to delve into the Knowledge brought to us by Abd-ru-shin, because only It provides a breathtaking survey of the entire history of human development from its origin to the present day and thus makes it possible to pinpoint the original cause of all violence and suffering. Without the perspective of this Knowledge it is utterly impossible. It is no longer so simple as to be able to stop violence by just not being violent - that brings with it a good deal of self-satisfaction, but not the actually satisfying results. Unwittingly man continues to carry the cause of his dehumanization within himself, even with the best of intentions. Without confronting the underlying problem, only contentment with partial solutions is achieved, nothing more. Therefore, the last image of the film is very appropriate: we see a singular human being falling, falling, free-falling into the vastness of space... Man has lost his way in Creation. Some will, no doubt, attempt to blame the Creator for this, while others deny His very existence. And only the courageous seekers will reach for the book of Abd-ru-shin, so as to finally learn the truth about where it has all gone wrong and what can yet be salvaged!

Copyright 2003 by Gregory and Maria Pearse