- Let's start at the end. At the end of this spectacularly re-created and spectacularly re-enacted Hollywood war film, Captain Miller leaves this world with the following parting words addressed to the "saved" Private Ryan: "Earn it". The remembrance of these words and of the price, which was paid for saving his earthly life, prompts the aged Private Ryan at the cemetery to reflect upon his entire life. Trembling and filled with anxiety, he turns to his wife and asks: "Have I led a good life? Am I a good man?" At first, she is taken back by this: "What?!" His questions strike her as being superfluous, for the answer to them seems to her to be self-evident. Obviously, profound reflection and questioning of the accepted norms have no place in her world. Therefore, she quickly recovers from her surprise and confidently supplies him with that self-evident and comforting answer: "Yes, you are!"
- THE COMFORT-FACTOR
Thus, what could have been for the aged Private Ryan the beginning of a whole new way of life (i.e. reflecting, probing ever deeper into the fundamental questions of our existence) is nipped in the bud and smothered in comfort. And yet he desperately needs - all of us desperately need a greater perspective on human suffering than family comfort, tearful sentimentality or traditional explanations. This greater perspective, however, cannot be found without first adopting a different mode of existence - a mode of "seeking". Seeking involves profound introspection and earnest (but not cynical) questioning of all the firmly established concepts, such as: freedom, tradition, dogma, humor, life, death... This mode of reflection would gradually lead to inner deepening, so that such a person would no longer be looking only at the surface of life, but would begin to seek out the causes behind the visible events.
But how very little this way of being is valued by people! This is clearly illustrated by the behavior of all the characters in the film. Whenever they get a respite from the horrors of war - how do they spend these precious moments?.. During the night-stay in an abandoned church, they recall the memory of a fallen comrade by recounting his more-than-questionable prank. When Private Ryan recounts the last experience he had with his brothers, this involves vulgarity as well as the humiliation of a girl (is this supposed to be that "cherished memory" of a lifetime?) Another soldier describes an incident in a shop back home, involving a sergeant's wife - full of the lowest and basest strivings (is that something worth remembering, when death is staring one in the face?)
We, human beings, have become so SHALLOW that we no longer even notice how we humiliate ourselves. The war does not need to inflict humiliation upon us; we do it to ourselves. Wars would not even come into being, if we had been able to preserve for ourselves the true concept of human dignity. But, especially in war films, we can see just how forced and unnatural our conception of dignity really is. Dignity is treated as something, which is reserved for ceremonial occasions or for profound moments. In any case, it is always something outside of everyday life, something, which one puts on and then takes off, like a uniform. We no longer sense that dignity should have been an integrated part of our being - inseparable from us. Then these moments of what today passes for "humor" or comforting "relief of tension" would be unthinkable.
We, the people, are - first and foremost - spiritual beings. So when we turn our backs on our spirits (as we have done and continue to do), we bring disaster upon disaster into being for ourselves. It is not coincidental that just before Hitler came to power and WWII broke out, a certain book appeared in Germany. This book was offering human beings what their spirits were crying out for:
This special book was called "IN THE LIGHT OF TRUTH: THE GRAIL MESSAGE" and its author (although a German by birth) wrote it under the name of Abd-ru-shin. The Knowledge offered to humanity through this book was of such unprecedented scope and magnitude that it caused a sharp division in the ranks of the German people. The emerging Nazi party considered the book dangerous, eventually banning it and exiling its author (who died under house arrest on December 6, 1941). The majority of the people chose to follow Hitler instead of the Knowledge, which would have brought them spiritual enlightenment. They turned their backs on their own spirit, leaving it to starve, and instead preferred Hitler's quick-and-easy solutions. Thus they brought a calamity for their own nation into being.
- Today "IN THE LIGHT OF TRUTH" (by now translated into many languages) still stands as a dividing mark - this time, for all of humanity. Reading this book today, it is easy to understand why it caused such a sharp division among the German people. The demands it makes upon the human spirit in terms of self-exertion are staggering! People, who are accustomed to simply following whatever tradition they were born into, get a shock treatment of relentless questioning-and-weighing and straightening of distorted concepts. The comfort-factor of every individual gets shattered, for it blocks the way to the liberation of the spirit. Only those, who can summon up the courage to fight for the one true freedom (the freedom of their own spirit!) will be able to make use of the stupendous Knowledge offered in this book. Armed with true courage (the courage to confront personal misconceptions), an individual will find in it all the keys to understanding his/her own life and shaping his/her own destiny. Both suffering and joy will then appear in a new light, in the newly-found perspective on human existence. This is the new battlefield for humanity: the acquisition of the hitherto-unknown Knowledge and the restructuring of our lives in accordance with It!
- THE ULTIMATE STRUGGLE: "EARN IT"
"The struggle against tyranny and oppression" is indeed a worthy struggle. But first it is necessary to recognize where tyranny and oppression come from. Where is their actual origin? We have suppressed and violated the spirit within us; we have inflicted tyranny and oppression upon our own spirits. The results are wars around the globe and - during the periods of so-called peace - the life of sentimentality and comfortable spiritual stagnation.
Now a New D-Day is just around the corner. Are we ready for this final battle? We are in for the fight of our lives. And the fight for our lives is the fight for our spirits.
But we do not even know what SPIRITUALITY actually is. Certainly, this word is on everyone's lips today, but what do we picture by it? If we honestly reflect on this, then we would have to admit to ourselves that we do not even know that there exists a Spiritual Domain in Creation, do not know where it is located and do not know what relationship we have to it. We are desperately in need of this knowledge before we can even start on our spiritual progress. As in any battle, we first need a map - in this case, a map of Creation in order to know where we have come from and where we want to go. This map is laid out in the already mentioned book "IN THE LIGHT OF TRUTH".
In the film, Captain Miller felt that Private Ryan had to earn his "salvation". There is a deep intuiting behind this sentiment. All of us have to earn the right to continued existence in this Creation. This cannot be done, however, by measuring our lives against other people's opinions of us - be they relatives or friends or the whole world. Private Ryan attempts to do just that in his desperate moment at the cemetery. Kneeling at the grave of Captain Miller, he seeks comforting justification for his life by saying: "I hope that at least in your eyes I have led a good life." Such an attempt is futile. Surely, we all must sense (deep down) that a greater standard than merely a human standard will be applied to us at the time of evaluation. And greater exertion than mere habitual faith will be asked of us. The question of "what must we do to earn our salvation?" should give us no peace at this time.