A “Titanic” Struggle:
Is the world's ship sinking?


Why has a film about a disaster that
happened over eighty years ago
become the most popular film in movie
history? What is the irresistable allure, the
cinematic spell that "Titanic" has seemingly
cast upon audiences across the globe? Is it
the incredibly realistic recreation of the
disaster? Is it the youthful charisma of the
leads? Is it the exceptional Hollywood-style
craftsmanship that went into virtually every
aspect of the filmmaking process? Or could it
be something else, something much more
crucial? A hidden truth, which has hitherto
remained buried deep in the “mass
consciousness” of the world? A truth, which
is just now beginning to rise up from out of
its deep, murky waters in order to command
a place of great importance in all our lives?
Certainly, the idea of people trapped on a
sinking ship seems to be the most apt
metaphor for the state of humanity today.
(The only thing that is missing right now is
the iceberg.) Many have already experi-
enced the recurring bouts of tension,
irritability and impatience as though
everything is somehow wrong. Others have
immersed themselves into parties or family
fun or careers - lots of plans, lots of things to
do - in an attempt to silence that foreboding
premonition rising up from within. The
majority, however, are probably living in the
same state of conviction as did most
passengers on the Titanic: “This ship is
unsinkable. God Himself could not sink this
ship.” The notion that our lives and our plans
can be brought to a crashing halt seems
either implausible or downright offensive to
most people, and yet they are lining up to
see this film in greater and greater numbers,
as though silently obeying the urging of their
inner voice.
What is there, then, in this film for us to
see? First of all, we see the accurate
documentation of the fact that the
catastrophe of the Titanic was the result of
human failure. But what a mistake it would
be to view this human failure as only the
failure of OTHER human beings! If we are
unable to perceive that all of the failings,
which we see in the characters responsible
for the tragedy, are present within us as well,
then truly we lack the two most essential
qualities of the genuine seeker: objectivity
and self-honesty. And don’t these feel
familiar? AMBITION (the owner of the
Titanic pressures the captain to push the
engines to the limit so that, arriving ahead of
schedule, Titanic will make the headlines);
VANITY(the captain caves into this pressure
against his better judgement, because
publicity will enable him to finish his career
“with a bang”); ARROGANCE (on the
assumption that the ship is “unsinkable” only
half as many lifeboats as people are loaded
on deck and even after receiving the
advanced warning about icebergs in the area,
the captain ignores it, feeling quite confident
that this ship cannot sink.)
Vanity, arrogance and ambition (not to
mention countless other failings, large and
small) - with just a little closer self-
examination, it should not be difficult for any
of us to see how just these three weaknesses
manifest in our own lives. Equally, it would be
a mistake to view the passengers of the
Titanic as mere victims. As we watch the
film, we can observe the same weaknesses
unfold within them as the ones present
within people in charge of the ship, as
ultimately, the ones we carry within us. Thus
the cycle is complete: we all belong on the
same sinking ship together, because we all
carry the same weaknesses within us. This is
further supported by the characters of the
part of the film taking place in the present,
who are searching for Titanic’s treasure.
Here all the weaknesses are displayed in an
even more advanced state together with an
increased propensity for using foul language
as a matter of course.
But what about those two young people,
who meet and fall in love on board the
Titanic? How touching are their attempts to
break free from the suffocating atmosphere
of their surroundings! How real the sudden
power they draw from their love to defy all
conventions of society! The shots of them
“flying” at the head of the ship and the
expressions of complete trust in each other
are among the best moments in the film. All
the sadder it is, therefore, to hear the
coarseness of their language. The effect of it
is so jarring, because the foulness of their
words is totally incompatible with the state
of true love (no matter what the circum-
stances might be).
True love is not blind: on the contrary, it
sees clearer, because it sees the spiritual
ideal in another person, while temporarily
blocking out their weaknesses. In this way,
true love gives both parties an incentive to
free themselves from their weaknesses in
order to really live up to the ideal the other
person sees in them. Therefore, the assump-
tion the film makes that one of these young
people (the man) is already free, while the
other (the woman) is entangled, is wrong.
Both of them are entangled, because both
still carry weaknesses within. Their yearning
for freedom is real, but the way they go
about achieving it is as confused as it is
reflective of the pattern most young people
follow today. Sensing no distinction between
freedom and “letting it all hang out”, they cut
loose - unaware that this “cutting loose”
with its drinking, wild dancing and swearing
produces only an illusion of freedom, while in
actuality being a different form of enslave-
ment. This is not the way “to make each day
count” (as the young man’s motto goes).
The way “to make each day count” is to
seek out a
Source, which would help us to
correctly identify and overcome our
weaknesses. This is also the only way to get
off the sinking ship in one piece. Working
towards INNER freedom, struggling each day
to disentangle ourselves from our weakness-
es and to learn more and more about the
invisible, yet real processes, which shape our
destiny - this is the way to stay afloat in a
collapsing world. Then, it might come to pass
that the end is only the beginning of a new
way of life: a life free from the distortions of
our fantasies; a life, in which we would be
forever young and beautiful, because we
would be living
in the Light of Truth.

           
In conclusion, one thing cannot be left
without a comment: the depiction at the very
end of the film of all the characters together
applauding as the young protagonists reunite
and kiss. Other people are not here to serve
as props for our fantasies. Whether it be in a
film or in our thoughts, using them in such a
self-gratifying way is demeaning to both them
and us. This very common practice is yet
another thing that must be overcome by
each one of us.