Recently I watched a Pirates of the Carribean clip of At World’s End from 2007: “Up is Down”. Must admit I haven’t (yet?) gotten into the entire sequel, I just watched some clips to relax. Johnny Depp at his best in this spiritual movie scene!
I had the memorable image on my mind for a while, and suddenly it dawned on me that this was a very powerful spiritual symbol.
“Up Is Down”: A Soul Image
Many spiritual teachers have testified that the rational mind cannot grasp what true life really is. (E. g. check out Jiddu Krishnamurti on Youtube.) Jesus’ request to “become like children” may signify to strive for a direct connection, unfiltered by a trained, well-educated mind.
Images in fairytales can connect directly with the immortal soul. If adults remain open, these images can bypass the filters of “being realistic”. That’s what the ship sailing “upside down” means to me. Of course, taken literally in our three-dimensional realm of time and space, of opposites and physical bodies, this is unrealistic nonsense. However, the situation clearly points to another dimension, another realm of being.
Spiritual Movie Scene: Have Your Own Being Turned Upside Down
If we want to enter a new state of being, we have to change our ways, give up habits, let go of old beliefs, and follow the impulses of the divine spark within. This is how I understand Mark 1, 15:
The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!
In the German translation of the bible, the connection is more obvious:
Kehrt um, und glaubt an das Evangelium!
“Kehrt um” translates to “turn around”.
Captain Jack Sparrow follows a sudden impulse and commits to it, even if it appears illogical and dangerous. His crew trusts him enough to follow along.
I feel that on a spiritual path, a lot of beliefs are almost literally turned upside down. For example, I used to believe that my thoughts were secondary, the results of my actions mattered the most. I was result-oriented, focusing on what materialized. Now I’d rather say the state of my heart is primary. If my intentions are pure, and I fail, or a situation turns out differently, so what?
Another aspect is the focus on time. I used to think good planning was important, results sometimes can only be achieved in mid term or long term, not quickly. Now I think it is the current moment that counts. That doesn’t mean to be irresponsible or to disregard future needs – it is just a shift in focus, being able to react spontaneously and let go of plans when necessary, while still taking responsibility for my actions.
The Ship: An Image for One Human Being
Going further, I see the ship as an image for one human being. The members of the crew, in that context, relate to the various aspects within us. When we struggle in life, we may find that different aspects within us do not cooperate harmonically. E. g. when not making progress on a career path, we may find out that emotionally we do not really want what our mind tries to achieve. Likewise, we may find that we sabotage a relationship because an unconscious voice leads us astray.
Here, the way the crew members run back and forth along with their captain and keep hanging on despite all the danger is a really powerful image for a true commitment that involves all aspects of a human being. Only then can we act as one, leave our comfort zone and enter into the unknown, where the old ego cannot survive.
Where to Go after the Turnaround
Apparently, in the movie the ship is heading to the beyond. The Rosicrucians also call it the reflection sphere. It is the place of the dead, where the non-physical bodies dissolve after the death of the physical body. It is part of the earthly realm, even if not visible to most human eyes. Occult practitioners may learn to “see” this part of the world.
The beyond is certainly not the place a spiritual seeker would aim for. It contains a lot of distractions and imitation and is not divine. The divine realm can be found within – and only within – one’s lifetime, while the physical body is still (more or less) intact.
Even if the film may not do justice to a spiritual path that transcends both the physical realm and the dangers of the beyond, the world of the dead, I still find strong images in this one scene. The shake-up is a valid experience on a humble spiritual path.
Tied to the Mast
The two guys tied to the mast also form a memorable image. They may represent aspects of the old being, maybe the ego and the willpower, that have been purified through experience and insight. They do not participate in the old life any more, they voluntarily give up their old power, and change their perspective even before the fundamental change has been fulfilled. While they cannot, out of their own power, make that change happen, they eagerly await it. As the change comes about, their perspective turns out to be spot-on.
The scene also contains aspects that appear cruel: people going overboard, one even being crushed brutally. Spiritual and religious texts often contain imagery of fights and death, think for example of the Bhagavadgita which describes a huge battle, or the many deaths in the Old Testament. To me, this is, like everything else, not to be taken literally. There are aspects within us that can be transformed, and aspects that cannot embark in a new life. They may represent “bad” habits, or attributes like greed and self-centeredness.
Sun and Water
We may also see the sun and the water as symbols. The sun is orchestrated beautifully in the scene above, contrasting the usual appearance with the sight from below the surface of the ocean. To me, the sun in the sky is a symbol for the invisible source of energy that we live from, radiant light that reaches out to the immortal spark inside of man. The ship changes its perspective and sets course on the sun that it was not aware of before.
The water may likewise hint to the source, the fountain of life. We are happy to accept its nurturing power, but in ordinary life, we do not fully immerse in it. Here, a turning point is reached, and the ship entrusts itself completely to that water, abandoning its old path and embarking into the unknown.
What do you think about this clip? Does the suggested interpretation fit, or make any sense at all? What are your experiences?
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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – piano (Hans Zimmer soundtrack)