James Cameron's movie Avatar - floating soul blossoms

James Cameron’s movie Avatar – floating soul blossoms

Over the last  century the cleavage between science and spiritualism has stirred a reaction. The stark materialism engendered by secular science has begun to reach a point of saturation like the spiritual stagnation of the Middle Ages. A new urge is thrusting itself  in a spiritual direction, not necessarily towards organized religion. Even without the vehicle of religion, spiritualism has been active in the human psyche, manifesting itself in the most unlikely quarters – Science Fiction.

I have always found Science Fiction fascinating and elevating because its scientific fantasies appear to reach out and touch an ethereal force. It has become a genre where  spiritual  and scientific impulses appear to merge. In Sci.Fi. the human psyche and imagination have created not only scientific fantasy but mingled it with the spirit and the supernatural.

Arthur C. Clarke‘s ‘Childhood’s End’ is an outstanding example of Science Fiction postulating the evolution of man into a spiritual being, moving out from the pale of mundane existence into the higher realms of the spirit, albeit with the help of an alien. I never enjoyed a book more –  stunning, hair raising and  elevating. Furthermore let us not forget that Clark was in fact a scientist turned to writing fiction.

Spelberg's movie, Close Enconters of the Third Kind

Spelberg’s movie, Close Enconters of the Third Kind

Steven Spielberg’s runaway box office hit  ‘Close Encounter’s of the Third Kind’  likewise represents  the urge to encounter a higher more spiritually evolved species. The encounter is like a 20th century scientific encounter with the ‘angels’ of yesteryear. ‘Star Wars’ is a modern myth replete with ‘the force’ of good and the character Yoda can easily be identified with the sages of the Upanishadic forests. Contact by Carl Sagan was another in the same genre linking science and a journey through space with spiritual communion with a higher order of being on a beach beyond time and logic.  Again Sagan was an astronomer, astrophysicist and cosmologist who expressed a spiritual urge in fiction.

soul treeJames Cameron’s Avatar is the latest in the same genre. On the one hand is science and exploration of the cosmos, on the other the mystical planet Pandora where all beings are connected by a mysterious force represented by the mother tree making all beings on the planet act as one organism. The chimera of floating soul blossoms unite in a central soul tree. It is evident that  Cameron wishes to juxtapose science with the mystical. What is notable is not merely that Science Fiction tends to link science with metaphysics in its sagas but more importantly the kind of universal and frenzied response that such mingling produces at the box office. The mind of man clearly is crying out for  a union of science and spirit not merely from the erudite and intellectual elite but equally from the adolecents teens and youth. 

Yet to be released, ‘The Host’, an adaptation of Stephenie Meyer‘s book of the same name, depicts the soul as a benign alien lodged in the human body, much like the Hindu concept of the soul.

Clearly, spiritualism is back like a butterfly that left its empty chrysalis of traditional religion on the twig of the past to reunite in the present with the flower of science.