re-printed from James Hibberd’s Live Feed
Jim Carrey is on stage, explaining his spiritual awakening.
“I woke up and suddenly got it,” Carrey says. “I understood suddenly how my thoughts were just an illusory thing. And how ‘thought’ is responsible for most of the suffering we experience … and suddenly I had this amazing feeling of freedom – from myself, from my problems. I saw that I was bigger than what I do. I was bigger than my body. I was no longer a fragment of the universe – I was the universe.”
“’Dumb and Dumber,’” he adds, “is a study of pre-egoic innocence.”
This is not an act. The star was one of the headliners at Thursday night’s meeting of GATE — the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment, a newly formed outfit of producers and artists with a shared enthusiasm for New Age uplift. GATE is an effort to gather like-minded Hollywood creatives to promote spiritually positive entertainment (“spiritual” mainly meaning the Eastern/Zen variety, of course).
“Clearly, these are times of unprecedented transformation, both individually and globally,” says founder John Raatz. “Everywhere you look, people are questioning values, identity, and meaning. We’re intending for GATE to support entertainment and media professionals who realize media’s power to effect positive change, and want to contribute to this transformation through their work.”
The inaugural and invitation-only GATE gathering, held on the Fox Studios lot, was four hours of speeches and performances that were alternately interesting, confusing, dull, self-important, inspirational and silly.
Here are the highlights:
— 7:30 p.m.: You wouldn’t think diamonds and patchouli could ever be found on the same person, but welcome to GATE. The audience is stuffed with about 500 rich Hollywood hippies, God love ’em. Most of the audience (which includes Adrian Grenier, Jackson Browne, Virginia Madsen, Garry Shandling and Billy Zane) are here to see the event’s headliners, Carrey and Eckhart Tolle – the “Power of Now” author whom Oprah Winfrey helped promote into an international sensation.
In his books, Tolle teaches that time is an illusion. The “past” is nothing but your own imperfect memory and the “future” is your own inaccurate prediction. All we have is “the Now.” Except this event has about 11 supporting acts before Carrey and Tolle will take the stage. Illusion or no, that’s too much time to sit in the Zanuck Theater on a weeknight without dinner.
— 8 p.m.: The audience is told that movies such as the unlikely documentary hit “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” and Tolle’s books demonstrate there’s enormous market for positive entertainment products. That you can have your inner peace and turn a profit, too.
One speaker praises the GATE audience as “a collective of pure intelligence,” which suggests modesty is not a requirement for enlightenment.
Another, Peter Shiao, CEO of the Orb Media Group, says, “We create images that people all over the world see as reality. With that power comes responsibility. This is about delivering rich transformational experiences that people want to pay money for … transformational media is already upon us every time Barack Obama is on TV … Tonight is about putting a name on this movement — this is our Constitutional Hall.”
8:30 p.m.: HBO executive Scott Carlin notes that Twitter, of all things, suggests the world is ready for their inspirational message.
“People are literally Twittering their lives away at 140 characters or less,” Carlin said. “It’s a massive manifestation of mankind’s need to belong.”
Twitter has always struck me as a massive manifestation of mankind’s need for attention and/or online traffic, but perhaps that’s just being cynical.
9 p.m.: Melissa Etheridge takes the stage.
At first, the singer talks about how “fame is a wicked trick” and laments discovering the “emptiness of being rich and famous.” The crowd laughs knowingly, and you want to throw things.
Then Etheridge details her spiritual awakening five years ago that occurred while she was enduring chemotherapy for the treatment of breast cancer. She delivers her story with so much wit and wisdom that the audience gives her a deserved standing ovation.
9:30 p.m.: Intermission / schmoozing.
To be clear: I’m not mocking earnest Hollywood power players who tout the idea of creating entertainment that dares to try and make the world a better place (at least, I’m not only doing that).
I went to this event because I’ve read each of Tolle’s books and listened to every one of his CDs as part of my self-help-product addiction. I understand “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” I know the “Rules of Work” and respect “The 48 Laws of Power.” I quit my previous publication because I was in a career cul-de-sac instead of “The Dip.” I’ve elected to “Awaken the Giant Within” at least three times.
I am, in short, a huge sucker for purchasing ways to improve my life from Amazon.com. But once at GATE I’m reminded of Dennis Miller’s line, from long ago when he was funny, saying he doesn’t mind doing drugs—he just doesn’t like the some of people you have to do drugs with.
10 p.m.: The event is running late. This is what happens when hippies throw events and encourage “free form” speaking. They don’t want to impose a time limit or restrictions. They should have hired a hardcore Protestant as stage manager.
Jim Carrey is up. The actor makes the following point, which nicely sums up the ideals behind GATE:
“We live on a planet where we are all really crammed together and yet we do really well,” Carrey says. “[But] when we watch the news and we watch entertainment it’s all about conflict. And you imagine that the world is an explosive, horrifying place. It’s really non-representative of the way the world is and what the world wants.”
10:45 p.m.: Finally, Tolle. The man generally preaches against people distracting themselves with TV and movies. But that line of thinking wouldn’t go over very well here. So Tolle instead focuses on ways some entertainment can be spiritually beneficial.
For instance, Tolle notes war movies such as “All Quiet on the Western Front” that show the insanity of war can be transformational.
Movies that show spiritual growth of the main character, such as “The Last Samurai,” can help.
Particularly, Tolle cites the modern classic “Groundhog Day,” which has a very Tolle-esque storyline — Bill Murray’s jaded character is trapped in a torturous small town, reliving the same day over and over, until he finally stops resisting the present moment, makes the most of this one day and accepts everybody around him. In the end, he is set free and his character decides to stay in the town.
Tolle also praised movies that show the impermanence of life, such as scenes in “Titanic” that contrast a young Rose Dawson and her older self, along with the gleaming new ship and its real-life wreck.
Such moments, Tolle says, give viewers a sense of mortality that can propel them to better embrace the present.
As Tolle speaks, his points and melodious voice result in a visible transformation in the audience.
Several people around me are actually achieving another state of consciousness.
Unfortunately, that state isn’t enlightenment. It’s sleep.
The present moment is all they have, after all. And if they don’t get some shut-eye now, they’re going to be tired tomorrow when they have to wake up and go to work … all over again.