I watched the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once recently and was awestruck by its messages. I think I am going to be a fan soon and I intend to rewatch it again. There are so many layers of message cramped into a short movie, plus all the comedy and actions! Funny, witty, and brilliant.
Amongst the embedded messages in the movie, the “What-if” and its ensuing multiverse theory resounded with me the most. Have you ever recollected your past and wondered, “What if I had made a different choice back then? Would my life today be different?”
I had always wondered if my career would be different had I accepted the job offered by a Japanese MNC instead of rejecting them. Or how my life would turn out if I had simply become a monk. Or if my love life would be different if I had accepted the love from someone else instead.
But what if we are too caught up in our “what if” questions. Our fear of making a worse-off decision in life can make us feel so lost that we cannot make a decision. Some people run away from making decisions or let others do it for them. Unwittingly, they fail to recognize that not making a decision is itself, also a decision.
When we are caught up with all these what-ifs, we created a multiverse in our minds. We imagine our different lives with different outcomes; if only we had made a different choice back then. While all these fantasies seem harmless, a Buddhist will recoil with horror. Do you know why?
When we live in our fantasy, we fail to live in our present moment. By living in our fantasy, we feed our discontent with the present. For example, if we fantasize about our lost love, we take our present partner for granted.
We should ask ourselves why we indulge in what-ifs? Is it because we are dissatisfied with our current situation? Are we trying to escape from reality? Since the initiating cause for our fantasies is rooted in discontent, isn’t it better for us to deal with our discontent instead of escaping from it? Although we cannot change the past, we can shape our future by making wise decisions now.
Last but not least, the multiverse that is produced by our fantasising minds are also mentioned in Buddhist scriptures. We know them as delusions. They separate us from the Buddha’s Pure Land. In simple language, these delusions distance us from enlightenment.
That’s all for now. I will be discussing more about this brilliant movie soon,
May all be well and happy.
I haven’t seen this film but I write multiverse Sci Fi and am quite familiar with its aspects. I have also been a practicing Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist under my teachers’ guidance since 1996. I take issue with one of your statements: “…[T]he multiverse that is produced by our fantasising minds are [sic] also mentioned in Buddhist scriptures. We know them as delusions. They separate us from the Buddha’s Pure Land. In simple language, these delusions distance us from enlightenment.”
It is not the delusions, based in fantasies or anything else in this illusory existence, that delay our “enlightenment,” but, rather, our losing “View,” forgetting that all of the mind’s experiences, other than absolutely pure basic space, that prevents our liberation. Our multiverse musings don’t distance us any more (or less) than any other thoughts.
Best to you,
Sally Ember, EdD
Author of “The Spanners Series”
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Thank you for sharing your view. Perhaps it is due to my limited wisdom but I do not understand what you are trying to tell me.
May I have the wisdom to understand you one day.