We’ve run across something Shrinks call the “Gratefulness Principle”. It posits that Eventually, the people they Fraudulently Tried to Lobotomize will come to be ‘Grateful’ to them.
Dr. Francis Gordon Lu is the Psychiatrist at the top of San Francisco’s feeding frenzy. Let’s imbibe a whiff of his ‘Healing Through Gratefulness’, ….. at the Movies, ….. from his write up of Kurosawa’s ‘Ikiru, an Encounter With Death’, ….. right after we Quote his Curriculum Vitae ‘Gratefulness’, …... at the Movies.
Dr. Francis Gordon Lu: Curriculum Vitae:
PUBLIC SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS:
1987 Zen Center, San Francisco. Co-leader at a 1-day workshop “Life Before Death, Why Wait?”
1987 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a 5-day seminar on “Lost Romantic Loves: Healing Through Film.”
1990 Frames of Mind. Conference on “Film as a Transformational Tool.”
1990 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Contemplation and Film.”
1991 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Film and the Quest for Wholeness.”
1992 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Reawakening the Inner Child Through Film.”
1993 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “The Spirit of Humor in Film.”
1994 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of five-day seminars on “Exploring Nirvana and Salvation Through Film” and “Film and the Remembering of Love: Passion and Compassion.”
1995 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Angels, Animals and Other Spiritual Allies in Film.”
1996 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Finding Serenity: The Inner and Outer Landscape in Film.”
1997 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Film and Healing: Courage and Compassion.”
1998 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Film and Healing: Hope Arising from Despair.”
1999 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Creative Passion in Film: Joy and Healing Through the Arts.”
CV – LU – page 24 of 65
2000 Esalen Institute. Leader of a five-day seminar on “From Illusion to Epiphany: Film and the Transformation of Consciousness.”
2001 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Film and Healing: Discovering Resilience and Faith Across Cultures.”
2002 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Healing Through Gratefullness: A Film Viewing Experience.”
2003 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Exploring Nirvana and Salvation Through Films.”
2003 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Learning to Forgive: A Film Viewing Experience.”
2004 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Renewing Integrity Through Film: The Vision of Truth.”
2005 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a five-day seminar on “Exuberance, Creativity and Delight in Film.”
2006 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a seven-day seminar on “Renewing Wholeness: The Spiritual Experience of Viewing Great Films.”
2007 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a seven-day seminar on “Families in Film: Now and Forever.”
2008 Esalen Institute. Co-leader of a seven-day seminar on “Intolerance, Social Justice and (forthcoming) and Reconciliation.”
Social Justice? Oh for Chrissakes.
Social Justice is the Utter negation of Real Equal Opportunity as it seeks Utopian Equality of Outcome through ‘To Hell with The Law, The Ends Justify The Means.’ And what Better way to Engineer Equality of Outcome than through the theft of 30-40 points off of Everyone Else’s ‘Mentally Healthy’ IQs, through the Fraudulent, Psychiatric peddling of Chemical Lobotomies?
On to Ikiru, An Encounter With Death.
Almost off the top Dr Lu informs us that the main protagonist, a Civil Servant named Watanabe, Dies swinging in a playground he had built on Other People’s Money, and becomes a Hero to his fellow Bureaucrats. Where’s that bottle of Pepto got off to? This Bureaucrat, who has been Spiritually Dead for 25 years already, Finally truly Dies of cancer, and becomes a Hero to his fellow Bureaucrats because he Finally gets a playground built on Other People’s Money, ….. as his soul saving, single redemptive act, for his fellow Bureaucrats (who can’t even get a Playground built) to admire him for.
“As the Rabbit is reborn in the Moon (as a Buddhist fable recounts), Watanabe dies to live on as a spiritual presence in our memories. It is said in Japan that people who gaze up at the moon on a clear night see the Rabbit pounding mochi, the essence of rice, the sustainer of life. The analogy to the Anima (often symbolized as a rabbit and the moon), which Jung described as the archetype of life, are evident (Beebe, 2005).”
Japanese Moon Rabbits is where America’s Medicare and Medicaid dollars are going. Do American Moon Rabbits pound mochi? No? Then why are Americans Buying San Francisco a New Hospital, ….. to Pound even More mochi.
In the year 2007-2008 SF Pounded $200 Million worth of Mochi, Right square into the Ear of Every American, to pay for SF’s New $1.5 Billion Dollar Hospital, …. .
But that’s Authentic, ’Mental Health’, ….. because Jung, who couldn’t get his lips unwrapped from Hitler’s door knob would have understood Moon Rabbit Psy-ence as an Anima, or essence of Life Archetype, the same way Beyond Freedom and Reason and Dignity Skinner food trained disease bearing vermin (and couldn’t even do That without bullying them) to Archetype the
shallow end of the Entire, human gene pool.
Aside from best sellers like Interview With The Archetype, Vampires as a money maker are Over. Done. Finito. Stick a fork in them. Which is Because, ….. Vampires/Archetypes have no more individuality than Dept Store Mannequins, and only slightly more mobility.
Alternatives to Incarceration and Drugging in the ‘Archetype’ delivery system are a waste, because the Alternatives of Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and just plain Psycho Blather are worth actually Less than Jack: Far, Far Less, because they are utterly shot through with the Psychological Ideate attempting to sort through their Collection of Archetypes/Mannequins to pigeon hole the other person – Whom They Do NOT Know, at All – into.
In Kevin Sorbo’s TV Hercules Anthony Quinn did a walk on as Zeus. Obviously there’s more to Tony Quinn than 3 minutes of Groucho wearing a bed sheet and sandals. Imagine what Tony would have got by using that clip as a demo reel, if Agents and Casting Directors hadn’t Already been intimately familiar with his substantial, previous repertoire.
If he’d got in the Door, he’d have been laughed right out of it, Because the Movie Biz is Private Enterprise and they Must make a Profit or go Out of Biz.
But what if DC took over Hollywood, like they just Took over Healthcare? Hollywood would no longer have to Make a Profit. In fact, Hollywood would be Prohibited from making a profit, because if any Govt. project/program/Dept. Ever actually Solves whatever Manufactured Crisis it is Funded to Solve, then it will No Longer have any Publicly Mis-Perceived Need to be further Funded, and everyone gets laid off. Failure IS virtually every Govt. Agency’s Job Security. And the Harder it Fails, the More Funding it needs/gets, to become even More of a Failure/Pain in Everybody’s ass.
So here’s our Tony “Zeus” Quinn in Govt. owned Hollywood.
He gets Welcomed in to be nit picked with endless micro adjustments of his sheet, sandals, and so on by Bureaucrats Losing Money hand over fist who shouldn’t even Be in business, but they Are because Senator Foghorn passed a Law stating that Inasmuch as, Therefore, so on and so forth, be it here for Resolved Forever to be in the best interests of the American People to have at Least one new Jennifer Aniston movie every six months, ….. blah, blah, blah, ….. because the DVD Barns in his District need that life sustaining few Hundred Million worth of Pork.
Granted; Blockbuster doesn’t own Congress, but PhRMA does.
If Tony had mentioned that he could also Scuba Dive, his Zeus would have been out of Archetype: so “the Scuba’s gotta go” ‘cause the sandals wouldn’t Fit under the flippers, ….. and You’ll never make it in This town because there isn’t any call for Zeus. So, We'll manage your ‘Symptoms’ and You go apply for a Govt. check as a disabled Archetype, so that Our Billing paperwork doesn’t get Bounced.
Just as Quinn was Far more than a walk on Zeus, Psych meal tickets are Far More than a Jungian Archetype - for an hour a week - in the hands of Analysts who Can’t Get Paid if they Don’t apply an Insurance Company acceptable Billing Code through Ideating everything they can scribble down/pathologize into a File in case that Insurer, Uncle Sam/Medicare/Medicaid ever wants a look at their Ideated books.
So Just What, Exactly, IS, a Community Mental Health Center?
SF’s RAMS (Richmond Area Multi Services) was part of a dodge called the “Bridge To Wellness”: happily now Defunct. The following is from RAMS Federal 990. Your 1st stop is the 2nd half of the 2nd paragraph. “Targeted” has to be the Mother of all Understatements with their Parent unit Being SFGH and its New $1.5 Billion Dollar Building Fund Hole. You can bet your everlovin’ that every member of the population who mistakenly entered the lobby got themselves ‘Targeted’ for a ‘Serious and Persistent Mental Illness/Major Psychiatric Disorder’ as over $1 Million Medicare Bucks got Blown Away in those Targeting crosshairs. This is what’s called a Community Mental Health Center. Any Cures? You already Know that answer. ALL that Any of these Psychic roach motels can actually Do, is Ideate a Million Bucks a Year worth of Medicare Wasting Paperwork, in case they get Audited.
Back up to paragraph 1 on that page. RAMS spent $3.5 Million Training Culturally Competent in the ‘Mental Health Issues of Asian and Pacific Islander’ Diagnosers to go out into the world Trained in Paperworking even More Millions out of Medicare through writing up Their Victims as Major Crazies, & Still without anything resembling a Cure.
That’s 3.5 Times More in Creating COMPLETELY USELESS, Diagnosing NAMI Ponies, than they spent Screwing the people they were Supposed to be Helping, ….. on the Premises.
The place was an Assembly Line spitting out Medicare Mooches. In April 2008 the Bridge To Major Psychiatric Disorder collapsed into its River Kwai citing a cut in Medicare Funding. Well Hallelujah. The Rascals who built it should have been mined before they ever laid its Blueprints much less secured its Funding pylons.
And just what were RAMS Funding Pylons that year?
A major portion of the funding for RAMS, Inc. is provided through SF Department of Public Health and Community Behavioral Health Services and Housing & Urban Health sections of SF Department of Public Health. Other sources include California Department of Rehabilitation, SF Department of Human Services, SF Unified School District, SF General Hospital, Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, state & local contracts and agreements, fee-for-services programs, local business ventures, foundations, grants, and private contributions & donations.
BECAUSE, ….. having That many Different cash pipes makes it near Impossible to rip them All out and Shut Down a Collectivist, New World Order boiler room like RAMS.
Statement of Program Service Accomplishments:
Disability, Chronic Diseases, and Death, ….. Period.
Would you rather live under Japanese Moon Rabbits who lionize “Already dead for 25 Years to become now Finally, Truly Dead”, Bureaucrats, …. or the Bill of Rights? And Dear God don’t get us started on the Archetypical Transformative Value of Bureaucrats who Die Swinging. (because we Do still cling to the hope, no matter how thin and glaringly misplaced it is, that this Country can be saved at the ballot box rather than by Kicking a box out from under the lot of them)
The beauty of Psychiatry is that we don’t Have to make it up. We just Look it up. Nobody without their financial Fish hooks in America’s Jugular Vein would ever even Dream of making up anything as Patently Asinine as empowering Occultist Non Science with the Force of Law to Condemn and Chemically/Electrically Murder Citizens, ….. without Anything even resembling Due Process of Law.
And for our friends outside the USA who didn’t grow up with our Bill of Rights: (because it’s a Joke to even Consider Psychiatry – which breaks all 10 of them every day all day - paying Any attention to Any of them) Here they are, and you don’t need a Single Vaporware Ideation to understand the words “Shall” and “Shall Not”. Those words Still mean today Exactly what they meant in 1787.
I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
II: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be Infringed.
III: No soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, except in a manner to be prescribed by law.
IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
V: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or other infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
VI: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed; which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
VII: In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
VIII: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
IX: The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
X: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
BTW: if Anyone needs an explanation on Any of those 10, we Do have a comment box.
And Now let’s welcome to ‘Psychiatry’s Got Talent’ the Japanese Moon Rabbits.
Legal Disclaimer: Since we’re making one Hell of a Lot Less Money off this – as in Nothing – than Dr Lu & his publisher are, our republishing of this copyrighted material constitutes Fair Use under Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. It is designed to promote open discussion, public debate, democracy, yada, yada, yada, Blackjack Everyone with Junk, Killer Drugs because Blackjacking & Sliming Everyone except the Pushers, is a Truly ‘One man One vote’ Piss on the Constitution Rwanda style Democracy, (unlike our Constitutional Republic so please review the above, Citizen’s, Bill of Rights) ….. yada some more, ….. and advance the Culturally Competent Japanese Moon Rabbit Agenda of the Pseudo Medical Mosaics Bureau of Useless Bureaucrats Spending Everyone else’s Money Everywhere in order to gain the Admiration of their Fellow Useless Bureaucrats at least Once before their Useless, Omnivorous Asses get tucked in for that Final ride in the Velvet Telephone Booth.
PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION THROUGH AN ENCOUNTER WITH DEATH: A STUDY OF AKIRA KUROSAWA’S IKIRU ON ITS FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY
Francis G. Lu, M.D.
San Francisco, California
The author wishes to acknowledge the support of John Beebe, M.D., Brother David Steindl-Rast, and Joseph F. O’ Donnell, M.D.
Copyright 2006 Transpersonal Institute
The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 2006, Vol. 37, No. 1
ABSTRACT: Akira Kurosawa’s film 1952 Ikiru (the intransitive verb ‘‘to live’’ in Japanese) presents the viewer with a seeming paradox: a heightened awareness of one’s mortality can lead to living a more authentic and meaningful life. While confronting these existential issues, our hero Watanabe traces the path of the Hero’s Journey as described by the mythologist Joseph Campbell among others. Simultaneous to this outward arc, Watanabe experiences an inward arc of transformation of consciousness taking him from the individual persona to the transpersonal. Kurosawa skillfully blends aesthetic concepts and sensibilities both Western (Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Goethe’s Faust) and Eastern (Noh, Zen Buddhist) to create one of the greatest of cinematic masterworks.
‘‘Awareness of death is the very bedrock of the path. Until you have developed this awareness, all other practices are obstructed.’’
—The Dalai Lama
‘‘Whoever rightly understands and celebrates death, at the same time magnifies life.’’
—Rainer Maria Rilke
‘‘As long as you do not know how to die and come to life again, you are but a poor guest on this dark earth.’’
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
‘‘Eternity is in love with the productions of time.’’
‘‘Sometimes I think of my death. I think of ceasing to be . . . and it is from these thoughts that Ikiru came.’’
Ikiru is a 1952 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa, who is widely acknowledged as one of the cinema’s greatest directors; the screenplay was written by Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni. It depicts the healing spiritual journey of Mr. Kanji Watanabe, an aging civil servant (the head of ‘‘the Citizen’s Section’’) in contemporary 1950’s Japan, initiated by his realization that he will die in six months from stomach cancer. Within the first moments of the film, an omniscient narrator describes him starkly as actually being ‘‘dead for 25 years,’’ living an inauthentic life, since he completely identifies himself with his social role (Persona in Jungian psychological terms), which has deadened him. He has no feeling, no will and drifts along linear clock time (he pulls out his pocket watch twice in the initial scene). After coming to understand his fate, he grapples with the four existential issues eloquently discussed by Irvin Yalom, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford, in his 1980 book Existential Psychotherapy: death, meaninglessness, isolation, and freedom. In so doing, he begins to live authentically for the first time.
A widower now for about 20 years, he has lived to raise his son, who ironically, as a result of his misunderstanding of Watanabe’s situation, is alienated from him. Rediscovering a neglected proposal authored by the Kuroe-Cho Women’s Association to drain a swampy area to build a children’s playground, Watanabe summons the energy and will to shepherd its construction through the maze-like city hall bureaucracy. He finally arrives at a serene transpersonal state of consciousness as he gently sways on a swing in the new playground as snow is falling. He dies at midnight, while singing peacefully a 1920’s song (‘‘Life is so short./Fall in love, dear maiden’’) he had sung earlier in the film filled with great despair. This scene evokes for many the film’s greatest epiphany: although curing a disease to extend a person’s lifetime on earth may not always be possible, healing of a person’s spiritual wholeness is always possible.
Two articles about Ikiru with contributions by the present author appeared in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology in 1987 (Weimer & Lu; Lu & Heming). The first showed the similarity in the narratives of the film, the fairytale Rumpelstiltskin, and the story of a psychiatric patient. The second was an experimental study that demonstrated that an audience that had viewed the film had a significant reduction of death anxiety as compared to a control group that had not seen the film over a sixmonth timespan. No other articles concerning the film were found with the keyword ‘‘ikiru’’ in the PsycINFO database (social sciences) from 1952 through October 2005. The same search process with PsycINFO (arts and humanities) did reveal 10 publications. Two articles were found in the PubMed database for the same time span (Yamada, Maskarinec, & Greene, 2003 and Young-Mason, 2004). This article goes beyond all of these (including the two previous ones by the present author) by showing both the Western and Eastern aesthetic principles that underlie the film to cross-gird its transpersonal meaning.
THE OUTWARD ARC AND THE INWARD ARC
In the course of the film, Watanabe becomes a hero not only for the women of the Association for whom he pushes through the playground for their children, and after his death, to his fellow bureaucrats, but also for the film audience as well. Watanabe’s trajectory can be understood as a manifestation of the Hero’s Journey as described by Joseph Campbell, who wrote works of great scholarship that showed how historical mythology from throughout the world over eons of time functioned at psychological, sociological, and transcendental levels of meaning still resonant for us today. In his seminal 1948 book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, he describes ‘‘the Monomyth’’ of the Hero figure in which he or she would: a) listen to a call to adventure, b) leave the usual everyday world–crossing of the threshold to the unknown, c) descend into an underworld through a series of trials and tribulations and with the help of key persons, d) make an important transformative discovery, and e) bring back a gift or what Campbell called a ‘‘boon’’ to humanity. This work influenced filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas as they wrote their screenplays and directed their films. The Hero’s Journey concept was further applied to screenplay writing by Vogler (1998) and Voytilla (1999).
While Watanabe traces the path of the Hero’s Journey, which I refer to as an outward arc, at the same time he experiences an inward arc of transformation of consciousness described by the transpersonal psychologist Frances Vaughan (1986) among others. Both of these arcs start with a very unusual call to adventure—death. Watanabe undergoes numerous tests while being aided by two helpers: an unnamed writer of cheap novels and Toyo, a young woman who just left his office section to become a factory worker making wind-up toy rabbits. In Jungian psychological terms, they can be seen to represent Trickster and Anima figures; they help him individuate by gently uncovering virtuous qualities within himself (i.e., courage, a sense of humor, humility, perseverance, gratefulness, wonder) that transform his profound despair about his fate (‘‘to die’’) to felt moments of aliveness (‘‘to live’’).
Through these brief relationships, Watanabe’s suffering is heard, he is less alone, and he can begin to bear the unbearable. For example, after hearing Watanabe’s story, the writer is inspired to help him reframe his situation: You know, you’re very interesting. . . . I see that adversity has its virtues–man finds truth in misfortune . . . Man is such a fool. It is always just when he is going to leave it that he discovers how beautiful life can be . . . Up until now you’ve been life’s slave, but now you’re going to be its master . . . The greed to live is a virtue. (Richie, 1968, p. 33–34)
In The Power of Myth interviews with Bill Moyers, Campbell remarked that ‘‘One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss, comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light’’ (Campbell & Moyers, 1988, p. 37). So too with our hero, as he experiences what is in Zen Buddhism is called Satori, a moment of sudden enlightenment, that is the dramatic turning point of the film. In a coffee shop on their last meeting, he reveals to Toyo for the first time that he has cancer and will die soon. After intense struggling he eventually realizes his wanting to be with her stemmed from his desire to emulate her aliveness. But then he says to Toyo with intense despair ‘‘It’s too late,’’ reflects inwardly a few moments and then states with renewed energy ‘‘Its not too late. There is something I can do if I’m determined!’’ Despite his few days on earth, he realized he still had the freedom to choose an activity that would bring meaning to his life and a deep connection with others. Richie pointed out this transformative moment, which culminates the first two-thirds of the film: Watanabe discovers himself through ‘doing.’ Like Dostoevsky’s Myushikin, like Sartre’s Roquetin, or Camus’s Rambert, he has discovered what it means to be and the pain is so exquisite that it drives him to action, to conceive a plan which will ‘save’ him. Perhaps without even grasping the truth he is acting out, he behaves as though he believes that it is action alone which matters; that a man is not his thoughts, nor his intentions, but is simply what he does. (Richie, 1968, pp. 7–9) As if to underline this birth of new consciousness, Kurosawa slyly arranges to include the song ‘‘Happy Birthday’’ twice: a) At the moment in the coffee shop after Watanabe says ‘‘It’s not too late’’ and grabs the toy rabbit, descending the stairs, as a young woman ascends the stairs to her party (Gorbman, 1995), b) In the scene immediately following, at work, at the exact moment Watanabe begins his project of building the playground (played by brass instruments, in a slow tempo). Now the outward arc of the Hero’s Journey really comes into its own because the hero of Ikiru is able to give back to the world; from his struggles with his mortality, Watanabe is now able to bring back to the everyday world a gift. This gift would not only be his facilitation of the eventual completion of the playground, but also through the spiritual inspiration he would become to his colleagues (and to the film audience) as he is poignantly remembered at his wake during the latter third of the film. But there is also an inward arc of self-discovery and renewal of psychic energy that gives a deeper meaning to the transformation that the hero is able to achieve outwardly. In Ikiru, the young woman Toyo, as symbolized by the wind-up toy rabbits she makes in her new job, embodies the Anima, the life-force energy, which greatly inspires Watanabe to bring forth his own aliveness through selfless altruism before physically dying. The toy rabbit is seen not only at the Satori coffee shop scene, but also as part of Watanabe’s composed still life at the end of the wake sequence, along with a wind-up alarm clock and the twenty-five year work commendation certificate seen earlier in the film, symbols of linear time, now transformed through the Anima. This still life represents Kurosawa’s response to the Uncle’s comment just preceding this image (‘‘I guess there was no woman involved’’ [in Watanabe’s sudden change]). Kurosawa tells us that most definitely women were involved—Toyo, not as a romantic sexual object as imagined by the Uncle, but as the Anima, as well as the women of the Kuroe-cho Association, who had initiated the proposal and wept at his wake (Fitzsimmons, 2002). As the Rabbit is reborn in the Moon (as a Buddhist fable recounts), Watanabe dies to live on as a spiritual presence in our memories. It is said in Japan that people who gaze up at the moon on a clear night see the Rabbit pounding mochi, the essence of rice, the sustainer of life. The analogy to the Anima (often symbolized as a rabbit and the moon), which Jung described as the archetype of life, are evident (Beebe, 2005).
WESTERN AESTHETIC INFLUENCES
The film is remarkable for gently evoking in the audience an attitude of compassion for the tremendous suffering of our hero by Kurosawa’s melding together of Western and Eastern archetypal aesthetic themes. He constructs a space where the audience can share his artistic perspective as described in his words: ‘‘To be an artist is never to avert one’s eyes’’ (1990 Academy Awards, when he received an honorary Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement). Kurosawa had read much of Western literature, and his favorite writer was Dostoyevsky, who, not unlike the writer of cheap novels in the film, saw that suffering could paradoxically bring about a greater aliveness. In the night-town sequence, the writer observes that Watanabe is like Christ carrying the cross of cancer. He would eventually die at the end of the first section, only to be re-born in the funeral wake section through our collective memory. The plot of Ikiru also resembles Leo Tolstoy’s short story The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886/1981): a man, confronting mortality, undergoes a spiritual transformation. In addition, Carr (1996, p. 274–275) comments in her remarkable essay that ‘‘Kurosawa in Ikiru has followed Goethe’s Faust with minute faithfulness to the structure, characters, episodes, and general intent of the original, but has transformed it into a vision of man’s place on ‘this earth’ and in the ‘yonder’ that is uniquely his own . . . the structure of Faust and Ikiru is exactly the same–two parts so distinct that the reader/viewer must take notice of the division.’’ Kurosawa notes in his autobiography that F. W. Murnau’s Faust (1926) was one of nearly a hundred films that had impressed him (Kurosawa, 1983, p. 73). The writer even jokes about his role before they embark on their night-town journey: ‘‘Let’s find that life you have thrown away. Tonight I’ll be your Mephistopheles, but a good one, who won’t ask to be paid’’ (Richie, 1968, p. 34). Toyo plays a role analogous to Margaret in Faust.
Faust in Faust (Part II) as well as Watanabe in the funeral wake section (2nd flashback) reclaim land. Most significantly, Watanabe’s journey in the funeral wake section parallels the one of Faust’s soul to Heaven, which Faust finally enters through the comforting encouragement and inspiration of the Eternal Feminine—the Anima—as does Watanabe! At that numinous and glorious moment at the very end of Faust (Part II), in words of the Chorus Mysticus, salvation has been achieved:
All that is transitory
is but a parable;
is here attained;
here is accomplished;
draws us on high. (Hamlin, 1976, p. 308)
Finally, there is yet another significant Western echo in the film. The Austrian composer Gustav Mahler would make the final scene of Faust (Part II) the libretto of the second and final part of his 8th Symphony (1906). Mahler’s biographer Henry La Grange argues that the choice of Faust was understandable since Goethe ‘‘had always been one of his literary gods’’ (Nikkels & Becque, 1992, p.134). Mahler wrote to his wife Alma, to whom he dedicated this symphony, the following about the Chorus Mysticus on which his symphony ends: Only the transitory lends itself to description; but what we feel, surmise but will never reach . . . the intransitory behind all appearances, is indescribable. That which draws us by its mystic force . . . The eternal-feminine has drawn us on–we have arrived–we are at rest–we possess what on earth we could only strive and struggle for. Christians call this ‘eternal blessedness’ . . . (Mitchell, 1969, pp. 320–321) I believe that Goethe’s Chorus Mysticus as also depicted at the end of Mahler’s 8th symphony corresponds to Kurosawa’s swing scene of Watanabe in the playground as Carr (1996, p. 278) comments: ‘‘the controlling word of Goethe’s poem [Faust] is ‘Werdelust,’ joy in the process of becoming, not in the attainment of a goal. Watanabe in his final scene also becomes the epitome of the ultimate of humanity, ‘Werdelust’.’’
Although I found no references that document the direct influence of Mahler on Kurosawa, I wanted to note that the two-part structure of the 8th Symphony is in fact paralleled by the structure of Ikiru. The first movement is set to the 9th century Latin hymn, ‘‘Veni Creator Spiritus’’ (‘‘Come, Creator-Spirit’’), which is part of the liturgy for Pentecost, the festival that commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples (Acts 2). Mahler musically links the climax of the first movement ‘‘Accende lumen sensibus, Infunde amorem cordibus’’ (‘‘Kindle our Reason with Light, Infuse our Hearts with Love’’) to key sections of the second movement set to the final scene of Goethe’s Faust (Part II) (Mitchell, 2002, p. 607) so as to evoke the transpersonal as he wrote in a letter to Mengelberg in August 1906: ‘‘Try to describe the whole universe beginning to ring and resound. These are no longer human voices, but planets and suns revolving’’ (Mitchell, 2002, p. 591). Philip Barford has commented on this two-part structure: The old prayer invokes inspiration, brings it down, so to speak, into mind and heart, and even literally into the physical body as a generative agent, which Mahler clearly understood. Yet spiritual psychology recognizes that the force, which has descended, must reascend. What has come down to earth as grace has to be raised up to heaven through a progressive sublimation of energies. The physical life is transmuted through the heart’s aspiration and a spiritual rebirth follows the transmutation of Eros. (Barford, 1970, p. 48) Mahler’s masterstroke is to bring back the ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’ theme at the end of the instrumental coda [of the Chorus Mysticus]; but its initial interval of the seventh is now transformed into a major ninth by trumpets and trombones blazing through E flat harmony like a triumphant flame. Thus they seem to say, that which descends onto the substance of man must reascend through man to complete the work of the manifesting spirit. (Barford, 1970, p. 52)
JAPANESE BUDDHIST AESTHETIC INFLUENCES
We now turn to Kurosawa’s use of Japanese Buddhist aesthetic principles, which Kurosawa studied and greatly admired after World War II: During the war, I had been starved for beauty, so I rushed headlong into the world of traditional Japanese arts as to a feast . . . I went to the Noh for the first time. I read the art theories the great fourteenth-century Noh playwright Zeami left The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 2006, Vol. 37, No. 1 behind. I read all there was to read about Zeami himself, and I devoured books on Noh. (Kurosawa, 1983, p. 147) Through these principles, he crafts a film that reveals the beauty found in the very transience of life. The audience experiences a deepening sensibility from ‘‘Mujo’’ (an awareness of the transience of life) to ‘‘Sabi/Wabi’’ (finding beauty in the lonely and in the old) to finally ‘‘Yugen,’’ which conveys to us the transpersonal, the mystical and the ultimate mystery.
The music helps the film audience identify empathically with Watanabe’s mortal fate. As Richie (1999) has pointed out, this happens most profoundly during the night-town piano bar scene where Watanabe stares straight out at the audience while initially singing this song, tears welling up in his eyes:
Life is so short,
Fall in love, dear maiden,
While your lips are still red;
Before you can no longer love–
For there will be no tomorrow.
Life is so short,
Fall in love, dear maiden,
While your hair is still black,
Before your heart stops–
For there will be no more tomorrow. (Richie, 1968, p. 36 and 45)
Immediately after Watanabe’s Satori and his return to his workplace to begin his project, the narrator states ‘‘five months later, the hero of story has died’’ while Kurosawa shows us a close-up portrait of Watanabe at his wake. In the final third of the film showing Watanabe’s wake in his home, we would subsequently see the portrait forty-one times within the film frameshots so that his spiritual presence would eventually envelope the entire room and the consciousness of all there (including the film audience). Similarly as the gathered civil servants reveal in fourteen Haiku-like flashbacks Watanabe’s moments of lived time focused on building the park over those past five months (imbued with the virtuous qualities discovered in his encounters with the writer and Toyo), the past becomes present through memory. This narrative process was actually foreshadowed much earlier in the film when Watanabe’s contemplation of his deceased wife’s portrait at a small altar in the same bedroom evoked his own poignant memories of her hearse (seen through a car’s windshield wipers flicking) and the earlier loving relationship with his son as he was growing up.
We progressively achieve, through Kurosawa’s method of artistic detachment (Odin, 2001), a more contemplative form of empathy, which greatly facilitates our eventual experience of ‘‘Yugen’’ in the final flashback described by a policeman who was the last person to see Watanabe alive in the park. He has come to the wake to return Watanabe’s hat, left at the playground. This symbol of Watanabe’s previous life had been left behind for a new life, and it too has a mythic parallel: ‘‘The power of life causes the snake to shed its skin, just as the moon sheds its shadow. The serpent sheds its skin to be born again, as the moon sheds its shadow to be born again. They are equivalent symbols.’’ (Campbell & Moyers, 1988, p. 53) While looking straight out at the audience, like Watanabe earlier in the piano bar scene, the policeman tenderly observes that ‘‘He seemed so happy, singing sadly, a song that went straight to my heart.’’ Pianissimo violins heighten the significance of Watanabe’s serene singing of ‘‘Life is so short.’’ At that moment, Watanabe has become one with the swing, yet moving like a pendulum in a way that was foreshadowed by the swaying curtain beads in the earlier piano bar scene and even the flicking of the windshield wipers. As Barford noted about Mahler’s ending of the 8th symphony, the eternal and the temporal are simultaneously evoked. We experience an epiphany beyond mere beauty, which encompasses what Campbell and others have termed ‘‘the Sublime’’ and which transcends the pairs of opposites such as happiness/sadness, past/present, self/no self, life/death, and time/timelessness. The implied thought is quite beautifully expressed in the first lines of ‘‘Auguries of Innocence’’ (1804) by the English poet William Blake:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower;
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.
As William LaFleur, Professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton, has written (1986), at such climactic moments in Noh drama, we experience one of the most profound teachings of Mahayana Buddhism: ‘‘samsara’’ (the birth-and-death of everyday life) and ‘‘nirvana’’ are one, like two sides of the same coin: In many n o plays . . . the audience has a strong sense of mental and emotional relief as the play comes to a close. This relief seems to derive from a clear sense that the character on the stage, while still theoretically moving downward in the ranks of cosmology, has in some real way been released from what had seemed sheer tragedy. That is, the actor or actors have communicated a sense of profound tranquility . . . Yugen moves beyond the text to reveal, through the tranquility it captures, the presence of nirvana in the midst of samsara, not as an abstract principle but in the concrete actions of the characters on the stage (LaFleur, 1986, p. 130–131) This can also be seen in the words of the 13th century Japanese Zen Buddhist priest Dogen, whose writings provided the very basis for Noh drama: ‘‘Just understand that birth-and-death is itself nirvana. There is nothing such as birth and death to be avoided; there is nothing such as nirvana to be sought. Only when you realize this are you free from birth and death.’’ (Loy, 2001, p. 25) And this same sensibility is also seen in the words of Shunryu Suzuki, a more contemporary Japanese Zen Buddhist priest, who came from Japan to found the San Francisco Zen Center in the early 1960’s and who would also die of stomach cancer in 1969:
If I die, the moment I’m dying, if I suffer, that is all right, you know; that is suffering Buddha. No confusion in it. Maybe everyone will struggle because of the physical agony or spiritual agony, too. But that is all right, that is not a problem. We should be grateful to have a limited body. . .like mine, or like yours. If you had a limitless life, it would be a real problem for you. (Suzuki, 2002, p. 149)
Ikiru was one of his favorite films. (Rand, 1988 and Ogui, 1995).
The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 2006, Vol. 37, No. 1
Ikiru was released in January 2004 in a restored print DVD by Criterion Collection; it contains a second disc of supplementary materials.
Mahler’s 8th Symphony played by the Vienna Philharmonic and conducted by Leonard
Bernstein in a 1975 performance was released on DVD in November 2005 by Deutsche Grammophon.
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The Author Francis G. Lu, MD, is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and Department of Psychiatry, San Francisco General Hospital. In 2006, he will be co-leading his 20th film seminar at Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA; 15 were co-led with Brother David Steindl-Rast. He is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.
The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 2006, Vol. 37, No. 1
[Ed; It’s us again. The continual references to Mahler are just the icing on the cake here. Unless you’ve got a Union Card & you’re making bank playing it in a Symphony, Good Freakin’ Luck staying awake through Anything that crashing bore wrote.]
The Porkocrats of California’s $220 Billion SB 1953 Rip Off left it unfunded Knowing its True Cost would blow up on them to later dash any Future aspirations of higher elected office, or even continued office, they might have then fantasized.
Dropping SB 1953’s nuclear funding bomb into the Cities and Counties laps was Their way of diffusing its Political Risk across the entire Statewide landscape & into the schemes of Countless, and Nationally Faceless, Collectivist Weasels whom the Media would never hunt up and expose, as California ‘Treats’ itself to $220 Billion Dollars of Brand New Hospitals out of the pockets of the Other 49 States.
The November Elections are just around the corner, and as Eddie Murphy told the fat guy in the red neck bar in 48 Hrs, just after he slapped him with the wad of money he took off him;
“Bullshit! You’re too stupid to have a job.”
See the Bill of Rights, again.
And for Chrissakes try Thinking this time, Before you vote.