One of my absolute favorite psychology movies showing the relationship of the ego to the Self is in Guy Ritchie’s, Revolver. While the movie is violent and vulgar at times and is based on a classic Guy Ritchie plot of gangsters and con men, the deeper message of enlightenment is astounding and spot on. The movie gives a perfect example of the ego’s interaction in our mind and throughout the film we get to watch the main character, Jake Green (Jason Statham), battle and transcend his ego with the help of his liberators, Avi (Andre Benjamin) and Zack (Vincet Pastore). The film gives perfect examples of all the common thoughts and belief systems the ego uses to maintain control over us and breed suffering. Also, in an effort to transcend the ego, it shows how desperate the ego can become to keep us trapped. I have reviewed this movie countless times over the years and always gain so much from it’s underlying wisdom. I decided to write up an extensive review of the film to share what has revealed itself to me. I don’t want to spend too much time on the plot and drama aspect of it, so sorry if you might seem lost if you haven’t seen it. My focus is on the psychological and spiritual lessons we can learn. I’ll do my best to give a context of what’s going on so anyone can gain from the analysis of the key scenes.
Here’s a summary of the plot for reference, “After seven years in solitary, Jake Green is released from prison. In the next two years, he amasses a fortune by gambling. He’s ready to seek his revenge on Dorothy (Mr. D) Macha, a violence-prone casino owner who sent Jake to prison. He humiliates Macha in front of Macha’s lieutenants, leaves, and keels over. Doctors tell him he has a rare disease and will die in three days; Macha also puts a hit out on him. Loan sharks, Zack and Avi, demand Jake’s cash and complete fealty in return for protection. Jake complies, and through narration and flashbacks, we watch him through at least three days of schemes, danger, and redemption. Who is his greatest enemy?” -imdb
Throughout the film there are clever quotes that come from various sources but all essentially speak of ego qualities or ideals. Here’s a few from the beginning that should get you thinking.
The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look. – Julius Caesar, 75BC
The only way to get smarter is by playing a smarter opponent. – Fundamentals of Chess
First rule of business, protect your investment. – Etiquette of the Banker, 1775
There is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of your enemy. -Niccolo Machiavelli 1502
“Every game or con there is always an opponent and always a victim. The trick is to know when you’re the latter so you can become the former.”
Process of breaking Jake’s ego…
First Jake is told that he has only 3 days to live by multiple doctors due to a rare blood disease he has suddenly fallen to, literally. This is the first and most intense engagement with the ego since the ego’s sense of self is most intensely attached to the body. Thus the ego from this point on is fully surfaced at all times because everyday and every instant it is intensely fighting to maintain control in the face of its inevitable demise. Also, to make matters more threatening to Jake’s ego, his “enemy” who is responsible for the 7 years he spent in solitary confinement is out to kill him after he embarrassed him by losing a few hundred thousand dollars to a bet in public.
Next Jake is told he can be protected by Zack and Avi (loan sharks) for the next three days but it’s only under certain conditions: He will do everything that they ask, without question or argument, and they will take every penny he owns.
“You will do as we tell you without argument, and answer any question that is asked.”
Jake is being stripped of all choice and independence as well as the ego’s entitlement to always being ‘right’. This process is demeaning/humbling Jake; stripping him of all pride(ego) and attachment to a sense of authorship and control over his life. Life tends to ego check us often by giving us unexpected setbacks and events to teach us this powerful lesson. Hence the saying, “pride comes before the fall” implying that the ego’s fall in inevitable due to its own self-destructive nature getting ourselves in over our heads.
Jake’s humility is compounded by the fact that he’s supposedly going to die within the next two days which makes him question, “why would I spend my last few days a slave to these two men?” This fact is crucial in surfacing his ego since it doesn’t technically matter what happens to his money seeing how he can’t take it with him. Jake asks himself why it still hurts to give it away… this of course, is because his ego’s investment is being identified and ripped from him, which creates suffering through the ego’s projection of importance of the investment(i.e. money) and hatred of watching it leave. Little does Jake know yet, but it is his own resistance to the situation that is causing him the inner turmoil.
We also note the genius in taking his fortune slowly in order to make it harder for the ego to watch the money be taken away piece by piece rather than all at once. By inflicting as much pain as possible on the ego, the opponent(ego) comes forth to resist and is made readily observable. This is a great example of how we can use any negative situation in our lives as an opportunity to see how our inner dialogue (ego) resists and despises our life’s circumstances thus making us suffer and unhappy. Is it possible to be unmoved and potentially even happy and at peace in the face of seemingly awful circumstances…?
Jake’s thoughts to himself (resistance) about losing his money:
“A part of me dies every time I think about it.”
“These sick bastards are making me pay, pay for my own pain.”
“Why are they dragging this on…Why don’t they just clean me out in one hit”
“They want me to suffer.”
Clearly we see how Jake’s ego identity has attached itself to money (one of the most common and biggest attachments in our modern world) and losing it is causing him physical and psychological torment because it has come to form a deep sense of self.
More Backstory Revealed:
While Jake was in prison he spent time locked up in between two convicts, one a chess master, the other a master con man. Basically the three of them passed along notes to each other through books that would get handed out each day. The two had come up with the ultimate formula to the con(ego), the formula to win the ultimate win (enlightenment). Jake intercepted this formula and used it when he got out of prison to con other men’s egos, which is how he amassed a fortune in a very short time. However, the formula is much deeper than what he thinks, the formula is the formula of the ego, the original and ultimate con, which means it also is the formula to transcendence.
Once we understand how the ego works and its formula for survival so to speak, we can then defeat/transcend it by using that knowledge against it. Jake discusses the rules as follows, pay attention to how each rule is referring to ego manipulation or ego ideals. Essentially all cons are just forms of manipulating a mark’s ego, which all operate innately the same. That’s why the number one rule to being a con artist is that you cannot con an honest man. In other words a person who’s aware/conscious enough to not fall for a trick being played on their ego’s greed. Ultimately the ego is the master con artist because even con artists are being conned by their egos telling them they need to steal from and manipulate others, just like Jake did.
Rules of the Con/Ego: “The formula has infinite depth in its efficacy and application but it’s staggeringly simple and completely consistent.”
The art is for me to feed pieces to you, and make you think you took those pieces, because you’re smarter and I’m dumber (ego inflation of the mark).
In every game or con there is always an opponent (ego) and there is always a victim (self).
The more control the victim (self) thinks he has, the less control he actually has.
Gradually he (self) will hang himself, I (ego) as the opponent just help him along.”
This first part of the rules are outlining how the ego’s con is to tease, pleasure, and tempt us further and further into selfish desires and greed until we eventually destroy ourselves through our own arrogance and blindness. All the while, we operate under the illusion that we know exactly what we’re doing and that we’re perfectly in control. When that massive wall of deception finally falls it’s crushing to bear, driving us to extreme lows and even suicide.
Rule one of any game or con, you can only get smarter by playing a smarter opponent.
Rule number 2, the more sophisticated the game, the more sophisticated the opponent (the smarter the person the smarter the ego – e.g. blue collar vs. white collar crime).
If the opponent is very good, he will place his victim inside an environment he can control (our mind and thoughts).
The bigger the environment, the easier the control (our mind governs our perception of reality and thus controls our entire universe).
Gradually the victim will play by the rules he is taught to play by and he will be controlled by those rules (boundaries we place upon our infinite selves and our potential for experiencing life; financial, relationships, health, spiritual, intellectual).
Toss the dog a bone (temptation to tease out the mark’s greed). Find their weakness (craving/desire/attachment), give them just a little of what they think they want (basis for all cons – greed).
So the opponent (ego) simply distracts their victim (self) by getting them consumed with their own consumption (constantly asking, “What’s in it for me?”, ego desire, pride, and narcissism thus setting up for the super high and eventual crushing low, the bigger the high, the bigger the low).
However, if this doesn’t work, he (ego) will smother, humiliate, ridicule, or utterly destroy the threat (ego self-preservation; anything that is starting to set us free the ego will seek to find reasons to hate it and destroy it mentally or physically – e.g. Jesus and the countless saints and visionaries that have been murdered from challenging the ego’s control).
The bigger the trick and older the trick, the easier it is to pull, based on two principles. They (us) think it can’t be that old and it can’t be that big for so many people to have fallen for it. (Could all of humanity truly have fallen for this massive con on our divine, infinite souls? Could it be possible we all accepted the ego’s ridiculously small version of ourselves simply because we were never taught otherwise?)
The more the victim (us) invests, the less chance they will turn back (the more invested and attached we are to our ego’s promises the harder it is to transcend it and let them go).
Eventually when the opponent (ego) is challenged or questioned, it means the victim’s investment and thus his intelligence is questioned, no one can accept that, not even to themselves. (Identifying the ego for what it is can be extremely difficult for the mind to accept, it also implies that the majority of the person’s life has been controlled and chasing after illusions of security and identity. Depression and suicide can often be the result depending on the scale of attachment and the use of support systems.)
You will always find a good opponent in the very last place you’d ever look (within ourselves).
Wow, so there you have it. If we really pay attention to these rules of the con you will see that they are an outline of how the ego operates and controls us as ‘the victim’, that is, if we choose to let it. If we really let ourselves sit with these rules, it’s almost creepy in a way because we can feel their reality. As I edit this (4 years since the original post), my mind flashes to several moments when these rules demonstrated themselves as temptations, mistakes, or hard lessons in my life. Make no mistake, this stuff is real, whether the ego is letting you see it or not, there is a battle being raged over control of your mind within every moment. Many have referred to it as good and evil, God and the Devil, Truth and illusion, but regardless it’s undeniably all within you and it is happening right now. By you being here reading this we can assume you are well on your way to liberating yourself and reclaiming your true identity and infinite Self free from all fear and suffering.
Jake’s Radical Realization About the Ego
“There is something about yourself that you don’t know. Something that you will deny even exists until it’s too late to do anything about it. It’s the only reason you get up in the morning. The only reason you suffer the shitty boss. The blood, sweat, and the tears. This is because you want people to know how good, attractive, generous, funny, wild, and clever you really are. Fear or revere me, but please think I’m special. We share an addiction. We’re approval junkies. We’re all in it for the slap on the back and the gold watch, the hip, hip, hoo-fucking-rah. Look at the clever boy with the badge, polishing his trophy. Shine on, you crazy diamond, because we’re just monkeys wrapped in suits, begging for the approval of others. If we knew this, we wouldn’t do this. Someone is hiding it from us, and if you had a second chance you would ask, why?”
Here we get to enjoy Jake’s crystal clear outline of the ego’s obsession with specialness and its need for external approval. We all love being the hero or heroine of our own life story especially with endless social media opportunities to project some idealized version of ourselves and so we must always beware of self-infatuation (it is a hollow con of the ego). Like a hungry animal, the ego is always wanting to fulfill its needs and therefore tends to always be discontent and incessantly searching. The ego is rooted in illusions and thus in attachment to the body, material things, and the external world (e.g. status, materialism, intellectual pride, etc.). The ego is relentless in its pursuit for fulfillment and happiness oblivious to the fact that it will never be found because it’s all ready here now. Therefore, to begin to see this is to realize the question of self-inquiry, “why do we do the things we do?”. “Who or what is so concerned?” “And if approval, happiness, and love aren’t found externally, do they actually come from within me from a source of inner decision and power…?”
Ego’s Self-Destruction Through Process of Greed (Insatiable Desires)
“Nice and slowly, beauty (desire) is a destructive angel. How could anything that looks so good be so bad? But there is no angel as destructive as their greed. In the end, she gets them all. They think they can handle her… but greed is the only snake that cannot be tamed.”
“Greed gets them all in the end.” (The demise of all ego driven entities)
Here we get to see the wisdom pertaining to the fact that the ego will inevitably destroy itself based on its own greed to the point that it engulfs itself. This ultimately manifests as absolute narcissism such as suicide or self-destruction through blind arrogance (e.g. going bankrupt, life in prison, or murdered).
Avi and Zack Test Jake on the Formula and Elaborate
Jake quotes rules 1 and 2 then Avi says, “the formula’s the same but where does it stop? Where does this game stop?
(It stops when you start to give me answers) – [Jake’s ego mind talking to him]
You’ve heard that voice for so long, you believe it to be you. You believe it to be your best friend.
(They should believe their opponent to be their best friend).
Where’s the best place an opponent should hide?
(in the very last place you’d ever look…)
There’s no such thing as an external opponent… Do you know who Sam Gold [Ego] is? It’s all up here [Avi pointing to his head], pretending to be you.
You’re in a game, Jake. You’re in the game (ego limited-conscious life). Everyone’s in this game (life), and nobody knows it, and all of this, this is his (ego) world, he owns it, he controls it.
(tell him I’ve had enough, this is starting to do my head in)
Tells you what to do, (look that’s enough), and when to do it. (Tell him… That’s enough Avi!)
Play by his rules, and you are controlled by his rules. Eventually you will lose.
If you change the rules on what controls you, you will change the rules on what you can control.
You only need credit [ego’s need for approval/power] in his world.
The more he gets, the stronger he gets, the more control he has. The remedy to credit is… humiliation. (Nothing hurts more than humiliation and a little money loss.)
He’s behind all the pain there ever was. Behind every crime ever committed.
(How can ‘I‘ be behind all the pain, all the crime, if ‘I‘ don’t even exist?)
And right now he’s telling you that, he doesn’t even exist… We just put you to war with the only enemy that ever existed. And you, you think he’s your best friend.
(And they will protect their best friend with everything they’ve got)
He’s hiding behind your pain Jake. Embrace the pain, and you will win this game…”
Jake’s pain is the ego, for all suffering and sense of loss is a direct product of ego investment/attachment. By embracing our life’s seemingly crappy circumstances it loses all power and sting. It’s a fascinating thing, but as I edit this now years later, what has caused me to look over it again is my own downturns in my life and the epiphany that it has triggered. At first we resist our negative circumstances; angry, frustrated, and feeling ‘wronged’ that ‘bad’ things are happening to us and threatening our sense of control. However, if we take a breath and accept that it just is what it is, and while it may be a low point in our life and it definitely isn’t fun, it hurts, and is a struggle, it will inevitably pass and does not define us. We can say confidently, “Yeah, I’m experiencing a low, so what.” Everyone and all of life has lows, it’s built into the fabric of nature and the universe, it’s just to be expected, without them life would be boring and lack relativity. The low points are not personal, they just are, as in free from judgment, neutral, and in no way, shape, or form define our soul, karma, or sense of self. What does define us however, is how we deal with them! And therein lies the power of the realization of humility, not needing to always be externally “up or high” and our circumstances perfect. Regardless of circumstance we can always be at peace and in bliss at the magic of life because we don’t resist what is.
When we get this, hilariously it becomes just that, so what? And as if we are struck by lightning, our mood can change from pissed off and trapped in negativity to one of laughing at how much life sucks at the moment and guess what, that’s okay! We fight that things aren’t “perfect” in our eyes, but that’s all just the con of the ego telling us it’s not perfect. Everything is always working out for us but only if we get out of the way and let it. If we stop resisting life’s lows we give it no power and thus become free and truly liberated. The circumstances may or may not change right away but they won’t need to because it doesn’t matter anymore. Resistance implies that our life’s circumstances define us as a person, while surrender and nonattachment to the external circumstances implies gnosis of the illusion it truly is, thus giving it no power – the essence of transcendence.
“How radical are you prepared to be Mr. Green?”
This conversation is an entire epic breakdown of the ego and its rules of control as well as simultaneously our ticket to transcendence. One must master the ego/con before one can transcend it, otherwise we will continuously be outsmarted by it. Thus Avi and Zack are testing Jake to prove his mastery of the concepts and then they turn it back on him to apply and make him realize the bigger message of the con. Jake at this point is starting to realize what’s going on and his mind is getting twisted by the paradox that is being presented (“eventually when the opponent is challenged or questioned, it means the victims investment and thus his intelligence is questioned, no one can accept that, not even to themselves.”). This scene is a representation of Jake’s first direct confrontation with the ego at which point it finally ends with Jake a bit lost and confused because he’s starting to see what Avi and Zack are really trying to do… Set him free.
“The more power you think you have in Gold’s (the ego’s) world, the less you have in the real world.
You are still in prison Jake, in fact you never left.
He’s got all the tricks and all the right answers.”
(don’t let them do this to you Jake, don’t let them turn you against you.)
“What is the very last thing you want to do Jake?”
[Face his ultimate fears, lose all his money and investments, embrace death and humility, and love/forgive his enemies]
Transcendence Through Charity – Humility and Surrender
Jake takes another step of transcendence by donating money in Macha’s (his ego’s enemy) name. After which Avi says: “You don’t give because it’s good, you give because it hurts him (ego).”
If one is not careful the ego actually uses this trick of charity to inflate itself. Egoless giving/service is sought to be anonymous since no others are aware of who to give credit to (the ego’s system of value remember). Anonymity makes it easier to control and monitor the ego’s tendency to inflate itself through praise. However, this is still a danger since the ego could inflate itself without the aid of others knowing of its actions in the form of inner pride. That is why Jake donates millions of dollars but specifically puts that the donation was given in his enemy’s name. By doing this Jake is deflating his own ego by purposefully inflating his enemy’s ego. This is unacceptable to the ego’s pride and defense mechanisms thus an excellent source of transcendence. Whenever we do the opposite of the ego’s desires it loses power and control over the mind and we reach a new level of inner peace and calm. Find that which we resist the most and don’t want to do out of fear of what it would mean to us, and then embrace it. Remember, “he’s hiding behind your pain (resistance and fear), embrace the pain and you will win this game…”
More Ego References
“Your friends are close, but your enemy is closer.” (ego is within, hiding behind its own thoughts/illusory creations)
“The only enemy to have ever existed is an eternal one.” (ego controlling our perceptions) – Road to Suicide
Jake’s Transcendence: The Radical Truth
The context of Jake’s final transcendence is asking for forgiveness from his perceived enemy, ‘Macha’, and facing his greatest fear of claustrophobia/being in an elevator. These are significant because it shows a complete disinvestment in the ego’s beliefs and opinions thus officially separating oneself from it and being free of its control. Perfect example of embracing the pain, resistance, and fear. Fear is not overcome by resisting and somehow vaingloriously battling it but by surrendering to it and embracing it and therefore ironically demonstrating fearlessness. For our enemies could never possibly conceive of surrendering to us due to the tight grasp of fear of loss. So who is actually free?
Radical humility, surrender, and gratitude taken to the absolute is transcendence/enlightenment.
“Wherever you don’t want to go is where you will find him. What is it that you’re afraid of Mr. Green?” (fear is the ego, therefore transcendence can only come from confronting, accepting, and subsequently overcoming all fear.)
“Use your perceived enemy to destroy the real enemy.” (The ego is the only real enemy to have ever existed, all else are only a projection of the ego as the enemy.)
Jake Asks for Forgiveness and Bows to His Enemy
Jake battles his ego while trying to forgive his enemy and subject himself to being possibly seen as inferior. He asks for forgiveness for his stupidity, in other words openly admitting humiliation to his perceived enemy. This is a major transcendence of his ego by releasing any attachment to status, pride, or the secret pleasure of grudges, thus eliminating all sources of a perceived ‘enemy’ in the first place. Jake’s ego throughout the plea for forgiveness is begging Jake to kill his enemy (Macha) and take control and establish pride, vengeance, and dominance. The ego uses all thoughts of past wrongs as its supporting reasoning as to why Jake is absolutely justified in his vengeance. This is characteristic of ego thinking, living in the past and never staying in the present moment thus holding grudges and harboring victimization and limiting stories of perception.
Furthermore, the ego uses the argument that “he’d do it to you.” This of course is erroneous to ever assume the enemy’s, or any other being’s, position or response to circumstances. In fact assumption is the very process of creating an ‘enemy’ since there is no specification as to what the other will do, yet we assume negativity and hatred, which then fuels the ego’s battle of opposition. Even if someone demonstrates a common tendency it does not mean we continue to feed the possibility by assuming it’s going to occur, this only reinforces fear and keeps us trapped. All fear is overcome by letting go of resistance to it and likewise all enemies are therefore overcome by letting go of reacting to their negativity (e.g. retaliation, resistance, hazing, argument, anger, fighting, vengeance, etc.) Every time one chooses love and forgiveness one is overcoming ego tendencies. The downfall of the ego is love and radical humility and gratitude. This means embracing our greatest fears of humiliation and death and loving all those who we perceive as an ‘enemy’.
Transcending All Fear
After apologizing and asking for forgiveness from Macha, Jake leaves to go down the elevator which is Jake’s greatest fear (claustrophobia). Yet another ‘enemy’ that was created by his ego. As Jake leaves one major battle with the ego he heads to his next by entering the elevator and getting stuck between the 14th and 12th floor. This of course is Jake’s greatest fear coming to life. Jake’s ego even asks him…“are you doing this to yourself Jake?”
This is the first question the ego asks to begin its onslaught of fear thoughts attacking and invading Jake’s mental peace. The ego incessantly screams in panic and fear that he has to get out or he’s going to die. However, there is no actual danger, Jake is simply standing in the middle of a stopped elevator, he’s in no real physical danger. However, the ego is trying to control Jake and make him extremely anxious and fearful. This is how all ego tactics work from daily fears and anxiety to the most extreme of ‘life and death’. The ego is always fear based and ultimately it is fear itself. All fear is inevitably based and stems from death of the body/mind whether physically or socially (status). However, Jake is beginning to realize all fear is in fact an illusion and fabrication of the mind and is thus becoming truly aware of the ego at this point. After using the experience of loving his enemy, Jake understands the ego and is aware of its voice and has moved to the level of the observer. Jake even mentions directly to his ego, “I’m on to you, I’m coming to get you.”
Sensing that Jake’s true Self is emerging in it’s infinite power and glory, the ego battles with every possible argument it has that Jake is mistaken and that he is talking to himself. “The biggest con that he (ego) ever pulled is making you believe that he is you.” Basically, the ego wants Jake to think he’s just really arguing with himself and that it’s all very silly and he should just listen to it – his thoughts… or more accurately, his ego’s thoughts. However, Jake is awakening and aware of this paradoxical argument taking place within his own mind and rejects all the egos attempts to regain control. After the battle has raged within Jake’s mind for a few minutes he reaches a level of transcendence through the realization that “You(ego) don’t control me, I(observer/consciousness/Self) control you(ego)!”
Upon this realization Jake is truly free and the ego is completely transcended in that moment, meaning all attachment is abandoned and the ego is officially not listened to or taken seriously – it is seen as the illusion it truly is and thus has absolutely no power. Jake is an enlightened state at this point and the elevator starts again and proceeds to the 1st floor. Jake is in radical peace finally since there is no ego keeping him in constant states of fear, anxiety, separation, inflation, investment, lack, need for approval, etc. Upon arriving at the 1st floor Macha is waiting with a gun pointed at Jake demanding an answer for Jake’s unusual (not ego) behavior and to fear for his life (ego’s greatest investment).
Macha’s ego is begging to be feared and opposed, yet Jake doesn’t care, the whole game is beneath him and so not relevant or threatening. Since Jake has no reason to fear anymore he is unaffected by Macha’s threats because he has transcended the ego’s illusion of threat being possible. All fear is only in the mind – fear is not an actual ‘thing’ it is a mental phenomena. Spiritual transcendence of the ego realizes that there is no ‘end’ possible to the Self thus there is no real fear in the traditional sense seeing how all fear eventually, when traced to the source thought, stems from fear of death of the self/ego/body. Life is eternal and thus there is no actual ‘death’ possible and accordingly there is no actual ‘fear’ possible for there is nothing to actually ever lose. With this wisdom understood Jake is in an unperturbed peace and in a state of serenity. With a humble smile of inner surrender he drops his gun and simply walks past Macha undaunted; to which Macha does nothing but cry and wonder why he’s truly powerless.
Afterwards, Jake Reconvenes with Avi and Zack, Avi tells Jake:
“You know what’s so elegant about this little game? Nobody knows where the enemy is. They don’t even know he exists. He’s in every one of their heads and they trust him. Because they think they are him. It’s beautiful man, you have to admire the opponent’s elegance.” Avi then proceeds to play Jake in a game of chess in which he finally beats Jake by playing the same moves Jake studied while in prison. As he’s approaching checkmate he realizes, through several memory flashbacks, that the two men he was in prison with are the same two that have been liberating him this entire time.
“Wake up Mr. Green…You can’t see what’s right in front of you.”
Finally Avi concludes, “We were always going to take you with us Jake, you just weren’t ready to hear how hard that was going to be…” Jake had to go through the process of being abandoned by his teachers, then creating a massive fortune (pride), only for them to return to him in order to then destroy his ultimate ego of pride and dominance. They returned as his salvation and saved him from his ego (death).
This is a classic teaching tactic and has a lot of parallels within religion and spirituality. Truth is given and then allowed to be abandoned and lost in order to then come back to it with a new fullness of wisdom from time spent wandering. Always eventually being saved by a Savior/Liberator from ignorance and eternal life/immortality being restored (Truth).
Jake demonstrates to us how obviously he had to go through the process of application in order for the Truth he knew all along to be all-encompassing and liberate his very core sense of existence. We all know the ego is a lie but don’t want to admit it and thus we go about our lives trying to bolster and support it until finally we have been ‘lost’ long enough and are primed and ready for liberation. At that point the teacher appears… As the adage goes, “When the student is ready the teacher appears” and we can conclude that everyone who comes in contact with this film is somehow in that range of readiness. As far as the film, Jake’s readiness was alluded to by his brother’s comment in the beginning of the movie, “You have more money (pride) than you could ever spend, so what do you think about these days…?” Jake has mastered the ego’s world and is still unsatisfied and thus is truly ready to awaken to Truth. Such is the process of awakening.
“We didn’t do this to you because we like you, we did it because we are you.” This is a much more paradoxical statement that Ritchie perhaps left out because it is a little ‘too deep’ for the general population, who knows. The reason I suggest this is because this statement is essentially pointing out that when attachment to the ego is liberated, the Divine Self is realized and it is the radical realization of Nonduality. With all attachment to the ego surrendered all of existence is a reflection of Self and life is revealed as a divine paradox – as if awakening within the matrix. Thus all ‘others’ are in fact finally seen as ‘self’ and there is no duality imaginable and all of life is a projection from one’s own mind. One has realized the Creator and created are one and the same. This was also alluded to with Avi triggering all the slot machines at the end of the film. This stems from the perspective that with the ego transcended all things are possible and one is essentially God-realized. In yoga these supernatural abilities are called the siddhi’s that one can experience in the advanced stages of liberation. Yet this is a whole other discussion, for more information regarding nonduality you can read here.
In closing, the most important message of the film is this: the ego, the only real enemy of life/love to have ever existed is within us and is never external. All perceptions of an enemy is a projection of the ego – all suffering, all pain, all crime, all struggle, all war, and all negativity imaginable is all of the ego and not an accurate representation of reality. Yet the ego is right in front of us and we don’t even see it or want to admit it…such is the mastery of the con.
At the conclusion of the film there are clips from interviews with psychologists and doctors on the concept.
Discussion on the Ego: “The ego is the worst confidence trickster we could ever figure, we could ever imagine. Because you don’t see it…” -Dr. Yoav Dattilo, Ph.D.
“And the single biggest con is that, ‘I am you.'” -Dr. Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D.
“The problem, is that the ego hides in the last place you’d ever look, within itself.” -Dr. Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., FBA
“It disguises it’s thoughts as your thoughts, it’s feelings with your feelings, you think it’s you.” -Leonard Jacobson
“People’s need to protect their own ego knows no bounds, they will lie, cheat, steal, kill, do whatever it takes to maintain what we call, ego boundaries.” -Andrew Samuels, Ph.D.
“People have no clue that they’re in prison, they don’t know that there is an ego, they don’t know the distinction.” -Leonard Jacobson
“At first it’s difficult for the mind to accept that there’s something beyond itself, that there’s something of greater value and of greater capacity for discerning truth than itself.” -Dr. David Hawkins M.D., Ph.D.
“In religion the ego manifests as the devil, and of course no one realizes how smart the ego is because it created the devil so you could blame someone else.” -Dr. Deepak Chopra M.D.
“In creating this imaginary external enemy we usually made a real enemy for ourselves and that becomes a real danger to the ego but it’s also the ego’s creation.” -Dr. Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., FBA
“There is no such thing as an external enemy, no matter what that voice in your head is telling you. All perception of an enemy is a projection of the ego as the enemy.” -Dr. Deepak Chopra M.D.
“In that sense, you can say that 100% of our external enemies are of our own creation.” -Dr. Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., FBA
“Your greatest enemy is your own inner perception, your own ignorance, is your own ego.” -Dr. Obadiah S. Harris, Ph.D.
Hope this made sense for those who haven’t seen the movie and hope you could still gain from it. For those who have seen it I hope you enjoyed the analysis of it and found some insight. I really enjoy this movie and all the learning and inspiration it has given me.
Wishing us Peace and Love always-
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