I am not the kind of person who enjoys going to a gym. Ask me to take a walk with you, I’m your person but ask me to kill time at a gym well…..let’s just say you won’t find me going willingly. Or happily. Thanks to pushy parents, I found myself having to go to a gym I had no desire being in to lose weight I wasn’t interested in losing.
But fate has this way of putting you in the place you least want to be so that you get to know people you most want to meet (notice that I use the word fate here because the concept of fate is discussed later on). My gym instructor was one such person. She and I formed an unexpected friendship and besides trying to push the pounds away, she and I would launch into pretty deep discussions during our training sessions. One of these discussions honed on to what happened to people when they die. Though she and I were like-minded on most issues, we found a topic now on which we both agreed to disagree, because I had a Christianity perspective and she had a Buddhist perspective on the same. So get ready to hop onboard the Soul-train!
1. Ready. Set. Action
Now if you look at both views closely, your actions or the way you live your life is important and tied to both beliefs. In Christianity, if you lead a life performing good deeds you go to Heaven. In Buddhism, the theory of reincarnation states that every action you do in this life has a cause and effect relationship. Basically your actions are tied to how your life will be. If your soul is reborn, there is some form of shortcoming that your soul is yet to overcome.
2. Hell to the No!
Besides believing in Heaven, Christian faith also believes in the concept of Hell, which means if you’ve blackened your soul by committing a mortal sin and you haven’t repented, chances are you’ll find yourself on the highway to Hell and definitely not knocking on Heaven’s door. In Buddhism, there’s no clear belief in a place like Heaven or Hell.
3. Soul venture, Sole person
Christians believe that each soul is unique to an individual. One person. One soul, one body.
Buddhists emphasize that till you complete your repentance process, your soul is reborn till you reach Nirvana. One person, many souls, many bodies. While Buddhist’s believe in reincarnation, whether it is the soul or consciousness or some basic essence of the person that is transferred during the reincarnation process is not really dwelt upon.
4. Hell, Heaven & everything in between
Christianity emphasizes that Purgatory is the place where the soul is made to repent, but maintains that the soul is unique to every individual. Purgatory is a separate place, cut off from the mortal realm and more of a place that is between Heaven & Hell.
Buddhists emphasize that the earth itself is “Purgatory” and that after you die your soul hops into another body to complete the “repentance” process.
5. Good, Better, Best
Christians believe that in Purgatory you are made to atone for every wrong action committed.
Buddhists believe that at every reincarnation stage, you keep trying to better yourself till you reach enlightenment. Both beliefs stress on the soul reaching the best version of the self.
6. In the End
As a Christian, once you have atoned for every sin, you are granted access to Heaven, where your current state of being will undergo a transformation of sorts.
In Buddhism, after you have achieved the best version of yourself and have overcome all your shortcomings, the process of reincarnation stops, you reach Nirvana and you simply cease to exist- you become light and are absorbed by the universe.
While the processes may differ, both views insist on your soul being transformed in such a manner, where the old version of you ceases to exist and a completely new version is formed at the end of the journey.
The movie I Origins seeks to explain that there are forces that exist that one may encounter which cannot be explained, supporting the theory of reincarnation and Christianity. While I don’t believe in reincarnation (I like to think that I am a one-time piece), the process of reincarnation fascinated me. From a scientific/ non believer perspective, the movie brought with it, its own set of questions, which it has attempted to answer or leave open-ended for the viewer to decide.
1. Can you prove it?
The movie takes a science against reincarnation & Christianity stand on things. Science exists to disprove both Christian and Buddhist notions. It does not believe in God, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, fate, coincidence, reincarnation or the soul for that matter because these elements are not supported by evidence. That much is evident. So how can a man of science believe in something he cannot see or prove?
In I Origins, molecular biologist, Ian Gray is trying to disprove the creation theory by proving that eyes have evolved. At a party, he meets Sofi a woman with distinctive eyes (which he commits to memory because of their uniqueness).
Ian’s research assistant, Karen calls him telling him that they have found a blind worm that has DNA required to develop an eye from scratch-this will allow him to prove God doesn’t exist.
Sofi believes that just because things can’t be seen or proved does not mean they aren’t there. She uses the example of the worm to tell him that just because the worm can’t see light doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Similarly just because people can’t see God doesn’t mean he isn’t there. She tells Ian that he has it in him to believe and that on some level even though he isn’t aware of it yet, he does believe.
Ironically, although Ian uses the human eye to disprove the creationist theory, it is the human eye that makes him change his belief. Eyes being a window to the soul much? Hell yes!
2. Believe it or Not
Being a scientist, what happens when you encounter something along the lines of everything you have refused to believe? Will you stick to your scientific belief or change it?
There are a series of events which cannot be explained by science in the movie:
- After Ian meets Sofi at the party, he doesn’t know how to get in touch with her again. He starts seeing a number of elevens at one point in time, which leads him to a billboard advertisement featuring Sofi’s eyes. Elevens are related to auspiciousness (fate, coincidence, destiny) or in some cases mysticism or a spiritual presence, which Ian shrugs off at the time.
When Ian looks for Sofi’s reincarnated version Salomina, he once again finds her because of a billboard advertisement
- When Ian marries Karen after Sofi’s death and they have their first child, the child’s iris scan matches someone else’s, which Ian treats as a glitch in the systems. Later a Dr. Simmons calls and suggests they treat their baby for autism. When tests are run on their baby showing his reactions to certain images, Ian on a hunch discovers that these images are actual places that exist. Confused as to why it’s being used in an autism test, he realises that Dr. Simmons is testing his child for something else entirely and tracks down the place shown in the image leading him to Idaho. He runs into a woman who turns out to be the daughter of a man who died two years ago, just before Ian’s son was conceived. That man’s eyes matches Ian’s son supporting reincarnated ties.
- When Ian travel’s to India to find Salomina, he meets a preacher in his hotel elevator and snubs off his friendly approach. The preacher’s overly interest in Ian takes a more creepy turn when he tells Ian that he hopes their paths cross again. The fact that he’s a preacher who’s doing God’s work is like God speaking to Ian indirectly telling him that in time he will believe in God’s existence. He encounters the same man waiting for the elevator when he brings Salomina back to the hotel. Since the elevator is where he kept meeting the preacher and also the turning point where Ian changed his beliefs, this points to God being in the background of the story
- On an elevator ride, Ian upset with Sofi’s belief calls her a child because of the way she is. Sofi’s reincarnated version is a young child, when Ian meets her again
- Sofi is killed in an elevator which has a freak breakdown. Ian runs a series of tests on Sofi’s reincarnated version Salomina. Though some of her choices match Sofi, there aren’t enough to prove her to be a direct match to Sofi. When Ian goes to drop her off they pass an elevator and Salomina has a panic attack voicing the same fears that Sofi expressed in the elevator when she died
Ian falls to his knees before Salomina at the end when he releases that the person he is seeing in front of him is Sofi’s reincarnated version, also hinting that he will now start believing in the fact that there are some things which science cannot explain.
3. Third Eye Blind
If our soul/ essence is reincarnated, why do we have no memory of it? Buddhist belief states that memories of our past lives exist but have to be activated through meditation. The pineal gland or the Third Eye is believed to hold such memories, but these memories are blocked because logic dictates that if we are overwhelmed with memories we will go crazy.
However once the reincarnated person starts believing in the process, he is in a better state of mind to access past memories.
In I Origins, Salomina shows no sign of remembering that she is Sofi from her former life, apart from her certain similar choices to Sofi. This is because her third eye hasn’t been activated and her memories repressed.
4. Fill in the (memory) blanks
It’s fine if the reincarnated believer accesses his memory and is able to pick up from where he left off in his past life. But seeing as the reincarnation process states that every being is reincarnated to overcome his shortcomings, if you’re a non-believer in the process, if you have no memory of your past life, then how does your new life dictate that you will continue from where you left off?
This takes us back to the law of karma. For eg: say you are born in this life to overcome anger. Irrespective of whether you believe or don’t believe in reincarnation, situations will be thrown your way that will force you to keep overcoming your rage issues. Ever heard of the phrase “I think the universe is trying to tell me something?” According to the law of karma, your actions have a cause and effect relationship that is guided by forces in the universe and this process is carried out from one life lived to the next one lived.
In I Origins, it wasn’t really clear, what Sofi was meant to overcome in her life or what Salomina was supposed to accomplish in her reincarnated one, but the movie suggests that besides overcoming whatever shortcoming she had, one of her purposes could be to make Ian a believer.
Even though Salomina wasn’t introduced to meditation and had no idea that she was Sofi in the past, forces from her past life pushed Ian onto her path again.
How much of your soul/ essence gets transferred? Are you the same person at some level or completely different? It’s confusing isn’t it? Your soul has hopped into another body but technically it’s the same soul, so shouldn’t you be the same person you were in the last life? Wrong-with each life you are born into different families with different mindsets, different economic situations and different beliefs. Hence you will have new habits, new thinking patterns, and new interests. Depending on your influencing factors, you will evolve into a different being while being the same person you were in your previous life, because you are still being guided by your past karma.
- When Ian runs a series of image tests on Salomina, she picks some of the images associated to Sofi, but her other choices are her own personally as a different person. Salomina’s circumstances in her new life had led her to forming some habits and interests which aren’t consistent with her past life.
- Sofi has a bad feeling about the elevator, almost like a premonition of her death, which happens a few minutes later. If Salomina was her reincarnated version, her past karma was still guiding her. So irrespective of whether Salomina’s panic attack on seeing the elevator was triggered by her subconscious remembering what caused her previous death or whether it was caused due to being made to travel in a strange mechanical device a poor child like her had never seen before, it is her fear of elevators that remained which has to be dwelt upon.
On soul-searching lines, I Origins goes beyond your normal kind of “Eye” candy and is definitely one kind of movie you should keep an eye out for!
Heaven & Hell
Earth is purgatory
Repentance in Purgatory
You cease being
Karen, Ian & Sofi
Kenny, Karen & Ian
Windows to the soul
Running iris scans
Ian photographs Salomina’s eyes
Ian & Sofi
Salomina & Ian
Ian and Sofi eating
Salomina’s image testing
Salomina’s panic attack