Flipside and "The Discovery" at Sundance

"How's life with the dead?"

That was a greeting I got this morning.

"Oh, life with the dead is fine, if you mean my daily routine of chasing my tail."

Sundance has a film starring Robert Redford, directed by Charlie McDowell (co-written by Charlie and Justin Lader) that deals with the Flipside.

I haven't seen the film, "The Discovery" and I look forward to seeing it.  From the trailer and online reports, it appears this is a story about a scientist who discovers there is an afterlife.  Mayhem ensues.

From CNET.com: "The Discovery" (Netflix original movie) is set one year after science proves that there is indeed an afterlife. As a result, millions of people around the world commit suicide in order to cross over. The movie follows the scientist who confirmed the afterlife (Redford), his son Will (Jason Segel) and Isla (Rooney Mara), the woman Will falls in love with who has a tragic past."

Charlie's mom is Mary Steenburgen and his dad is Malcolm McDowell.  Mary starred in a film "Going South" with my pal Luana Anders (who as fans of the Flipside books know, is the genesis of my journey into the afterlife - she came back to visit me a number of times after her passing, and since then I've found a way to visit her on the Flipside.  (I'm not kidding. Just read "Flipside")

I met Charlie's father Malcolm McDowell some years ago. My wife and I were invited to dinner with Julian Cerruti and his mom Chantal and Malcolm.  Malcolm was a longtime friend of Julian's dad Nino (the clothing designer, one of the few people I've met on the planet where I felt like I'd known him forever and appears briefly in my film "Cannes Man").  

 For me the dinner was a delight because I've been a fan of Malcolm's work since "If" and "O Lucky Man."  (If you haven't seen the latter, I highly recommend it.)

Younger days. Charlie's pop.
Of course I loved him in "Clockwork Orange" but I wanted to know about "O Lucky Man" - a film I saw in college and wrote a paper about, having interviewed the composer Alan Price backstage in Boston.  The film (edited badly for the US release) was an epic journey in a Voltaire's "Candide" like fashion, where Malcolm plays a man who goes through hell and back to find himself. The extended version is brilliant the music even more so.

Malcolm told me some great stories about the film - for example, I wanted to know why Lindsay Anderson decided to use the same actors for different parts.  It was such a clever choice, almost like seeing reincarnated friends again - and the subtle way in which Malcolm's character in the film did a double take when seeing the same actor (who perhaps died in the previous reel, but was now playing a man servant) again in the story. He said it was just one more example of Anderson's genius (and cost cutting!)

I get a lot of great stories just by asking.
He told me that when he was acting in A Clockwork Orange, he was having a hard time because Kubrick, notorious for multiple takes, wasn't giving him any direction at all.  So Malcolm called Anderson, director of his previous film "If" for advice.  And as he put it "Lindsay directed my performance in Clockwork over the telephone." Funny.

So his son Charlie has co-written and directed this Redford film - where he plays a doctor who is experimenting with "time travel" in the sense that we don't die, we continue on.  But once "the afterlife" is proven to exist, it appears everyone is in a big hurry to get there.

Which brings me back to the "how's life with the dead?" comment.

The flipside isn't this foggy.
Just a word or two about suicide.

First of all, I'm a reporter here, not a doctor. So if someone asks "where'd you hear that?" it's from some rube (me) who claims that he "talks to people who talk to the dead" all the time.  Someone who claims that he's seen people who are supposed to be dead and they tell him "new information." (which I report in my books). Someone who claims that the afterlife is just this place that we call "home" and that when we get off stage we return there.

I had an NYPD detective pull me aside on the set of "Salt" to ask me about a ghost in his house and his daughter talking about reincarnation. I said to him "Look, first of all, you're talking to some guy on a movie set. Let's begin there." 

But then, after asking some questions, we discovered the ghost was his old partner who died 10 years ago, showing up to his 8 year old daughter "younger and thinner" and that she was remembering a lifetime in Australia.  I suggested his partner was not haunting him, but keeping a watchful eye on someone he loved, and that he take out a map of Oz and ask his daughter "So, where did you live before?" He did, and she showed him, told him the epic story of her previous life and death... and finding him.

But I digress.

These details are not my "belief," a philosophy or a point of view. Or a religious concept.  

I'm just a frickin' reporter, man.

But the topic of checking yourself off the bus comes up a lot.  I've met parents whose children have departed early, I've spoken to people who consciously remember checking themselves off the planet in a previous lifetime, I've filmed people who remember a lifetime they left early during a previous lifetime. 

I spoke to a woman (recounted in "Flipside") who told me that she was on her way to do herself in, was literally standing in line at the hardware store with the chemicals she needed - when she overheard some boys from Uganda talking about their journey. Once she spoke to them she realized she was here on the planet to help them.  She now runs an orphanage for "lost boys" in Uganda.

She waited before she checked out.

Not all of us do that. Not all of us can.  It would be extremely irresponsible of me to claim that I know some magic formula for keeping people on the planet.  I don't.  But I do know what people say consistently.

This is the playground. This is the ballpark. This is the game that we all want to participate in. We sign up for roles that are difficult - in advance - because we know they're difficult. We sign up for them to learn a lesson. It might be a lesson in love, in forgiveness, it might be a lesson to teach others - it might even be because "we're in a hurry to get back to the other side because we have work to do over there that requires our full attention."  (I know what that sounds like.) But we sign up to come here for a reason.

What people report about the afterlife (I've filmed 35 deep hypnosis sessions, some with Scott De Tamble (lightbetweenlives.com) and some with others, I've examined Michael Newton's research (7000 cases over 30 years) and Dr. Helen Wambach's cases (2000) and people consistently say the same things (relatively): we choose to come here. We choose to learn or teach some lesson here. We eventually all get off stage and go "home." And there's no judgment negatively of how we get off stage. We are the only people who give ourselves a hard time for "quitting early" or for "screwing up everyone else's plans."

No punishment. No suffering. Just compassion. Some people don't want to hear that, don't like to hear that... but it's consistently reported. Now - would that fact make everyone jump into Niagara Falls? Or off the Golden Gate?

It's a bit like stopping in the middle of a play and shouting "I don't like this play!" and jumping off stage.  Not going to get much applause for that move. And when you get backstage, the rest of your cast is going to come and say to you "We're all going to have to do this again for you.  Thanks a lot."

(Here's the audible version of "Hacking the Afterlife")

But this film  "The Discovery" should engender a discussion about suicide and the afterlife. And I'm raising my hand to say a few things to Charlie, to Robert, to whomever wants to know... that there is a body of evidence out there about this topic.  If I may:

A. The afterlife has already been proven to exist. Look up "post materialist science" and you'll find the scientists on the cutting edge of this research.  We don't die.  We can't die. Suicide doesn't get us anywhere but off this stage.

B. That's no solace for parents who've lost a child, for a lover who's lost a friend. For anyone anywhere who has lost someone to suicide;  it's like a giant tsunami of sorrow that washes away everything in its path. It's not something we can take lightly.  But it is something we need to talk about. Openly.

C. This research into the afterlife shows us why we came here in the first place. We've had many many lifetimes. They all have a theme. If you examine the previous ones you may get to understand the theme, and understand why you've chosen this path and journey.

D. It takes courage to come here in the first place. According to the research, we can say "no" when our guides suggest a lifetime that is difficult.  We can say "No, I don't want to be a child born into poverty in africa, born HIV positive who lives with flies and dies in 6 months."  But there are those who say "I volunteer. Yes. I can teach a lesson in love. I can teach the doctors and nurses and those who fall in love with me a lesson in love. I can do this." Give them credit for having the courage to do so.

 I talk about this stuff in my books, or I go on at length about it in my book talks on youtube (I do mean at length - there's about 25 - 1 hour to 2 hour talks here): 

Which backs me all the way up to the woman who asked me "What's new in the world of the dead?"  She said "What's the point of all this past life research? I don't care who I was in the past, I just want to live my life as it is."  ("Don't turn on the stage lights please!")

I said "That's great.  But the reason it matters is because when you examine all the different lifetimes you've had, you'll see a theme - a healer, a doctor, a soldier, etc.. and you can choose to continue doing that, or realize that you might want to take on some other classes." Karma doesn't dictate who we are going to be - if we get to choose (or not choose) a lifetime it's because we think we're going to master whatever the lessons are from that life.

Past life/reincarnation research is important because once we realize that we've all chosen to come to the planet, doesn't it make sense to leave behind a clean campground, not only for our children, but for our own possible return? Leave behind fresh air, water and earth that we might enjoy it again?

She argued "But what about Hell? What about evil on the planet?"

I offered "If no one dies, then no one can be harmed, can they?  If they step off stage, they're backstage - there's no harm that can come to them over there.  Evil is a construct of the planet - because of it's polarized system, positive/negative. It only exists onstage. Once you're outside of time, or outside of this realm, it's doesn't exist, or it does so in relatively minute amounts. That's what's reported."

She said "What about those who have a near death experience and see evil?"  I said "In sessions I've filmed, when asked "Why did you choose to experience this?" these folks report that it disappears once they realize that they've chosen to go to wherever place they're experiencing. How could it dissolve unless it was a mental construct in the first place?"  

Plus no two accounts of heaven (or hell) are the same. If no two descriptions are the same, can it exist? It can only be an energetic construct based on the person conjuring it up. And in all the cases I've examined, I've never encountered a "dark side" - only descriptions of "being back home" that include the concept of "Unconditional love."

She gave me this 20 mile gaze, looking at me as if I was losing my marbles.

22 mile gaze.
I told her about the interview I did in "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" (vol 2) where I spoke to an attorney who claimed all of her clients who had committed 2nd degree murder had a visitation, "vision" or some other kind of visit from their victims where they heard a version of "I'm okay. And I can help you."  

It's not something anyone could ever talk about obviously - ("Hey judge, you'll never guess who visited me...") but it's related to the fact that everyone, once they're off the planet, no matter in what fashion - is okay. 

They're not gone. They're just not here.

I think it's sad to not be able to hold their hand, share a slice of pizza or have cappuccinos with them, but they're okay. 

If you ask them, they will tell you.

I had a woman approach me at a book talk once. Her daughter had been murdered. She put her finger in my face and said "How dare you say that my daughter's death somehow might have been part of her life's plan!"  I looked at the finger, then at her.  I sat her down.

"Can I speak frankly to you?" She said "I wish you would."  I asked "Since her death has she ever been to visit you, or have you felt her presence?" She said "All the time."  I asked "Was she a happy person?" She said "Yes." I said "Then pretend it is her. Imagine for a second that she's come back to see you and wants to give you a message. Imagine how hard it is for her to connect with you because you're so angry about her passing. Would she want you live your life in such anger?"

A sunset is a sunrise somewhere else.
She said "No."  I said "Well try to honor that then. Try to honor who she was by thinking of her in a positive light, remembering her laughter and what a light she was in your life.  Then allow her to communicate with you the best way that she knows how - it might not be a direct message, but it might be an indirect one. Might come from someone else, might come from a dream, a photograph you run across, a piece of music you both loved. Allow her into your life in the way that she would be able to reach out to you." 

A month later, I was giving a book talk in Santa Monica and spotted her in the back row.  Afterwards I went and sat with her. "How are you?" She said "I just wanted to come here, look you in the eye and say "Thank you for saving my life."

Tears came to my eyes. I said to her "Look, it's not me. It's the research. I'm just reporting what these people have said consistently. But thank you for saying that, it means a lot to me."

A couple of months later, I heard from this woman that she had progressed so far as to begin taking a stand-up comedy class. She'd found a way out of her anger and into something that could heal her and others. I hope she's doing well as I write this. 

No parent should have to lose a child. Therapy, suicide prevention, showing them a different way, talking openly and frankly about bullying, drugs, or any other process they might get in over their heads can help. Seek advice from a therapist. (avoid the SSRI pills if you can, but if the Doctor insists, then visit Richard Davidson's work at the University of Wisconsin where he proves scientifically that meditation can cure symptoms of depression (and circumvent SSRI drug use)).

But we can't always discern or understand why a loved one has left the stage... in whatever fashion. Try not to judge them for doing so, just keep your heart open to them.

Many judged Robin Williams harshly because he chose to check himself off the bus. But he's okay. He's just not here. People chose to judge Prince harshly for taking pain killers. But he's okay. He's just not here. People tend to focus on the method people get off stage - but if you realize that they're just back stage and you will see them again - why not focus on the light they brought into our lives?

All we can do is ask them. Through meditation, through hypnosis, perhaps through just opening our minds up to the question "Why?"  Hard to comprehend or accept the answers, but if we stay open to them, we often can hear the reason.

After this mother's comments, it made me reflect on my own path and journey - writing and directing films, trying to find the right path for myself. I realized no matter how many films I might make, I would never get a review like "Thank you for saving my life."  

Finally, I would offer kudos for this film "The Discovery" because the more we're talking about the flipside, about going there or coming back, the more it will help the planet.  Congratulations Netflix, (makers of another consciousness lifting show "The OA" which deals with near death experiences), Robert Redford, and Charlie McDowell (and co-writer Justin Lader)!

Break a leg. But not mine.

My two cents. Or in this case my two rupees.

1 comment:

morrisford said...

Here you are again! You keep popping up in my looking around. Might have to do with my fixation with this material. Anyway, it's nice to keep finding new stuff from you.

Morris Ford

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