10 Things I Loved About ‘Messiah’

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‘Messiah’ is a 10-part drama series created by Michael Petroni on Netflix which premiered on January 1, 2020. It follows the rise of a mysterious, soft-spoken Christ-like figure named al-Masih (aka “the Messiah”). A skeptical CIA agent Eva Gellar (Michelle Monaghan) is assigned to figure out whether this person they call al-Masih (Mehdi Dehbi) is actually a divine entity or just a dangerous con artist looking to upend the world’s geopolitical order. While the critics didn’t warm to it, and religious traditionalists criticized it, here are 10 reasons I absolutely loved it (Spoilers Ahead).

  1. Firstly, the ambition of the show—to explore the core of spirituality on a global scale—is worthy of admiration. Using the comforting tropes of the global CIA thriller makes it palatable mainstream entertainment in its own right, but what made it stand apart for me was that the high spiritual EQ of the show. The fact that it got green-lit and made is a miracle in itself.
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  2. I loved that every crisis of the key characters, while it may appear to be about conceiving a child, accepting their homosexuality or guilt over past wrongs, is really a spiritual crisis. In almost every other thriller/drama, the solution to the protagonists’ problems is attacking, punishing or killing someone. Here, as the external action unfolds, the characters either come to peace with themselves, or continue choosing to suffer. While some critics complained of the plot having loose ends, the real story—that of the inner transformation of the characters—is beautifully fleshed out.
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  3. If Al-Masih is meant to be the return of the Christ, thank God he’s not played by a blond American. Perhaps the first time on screen that such a character is played by a person of Middle-Eastern origin. Good to see a brown lead who isn’t trying to enter the US, blow up the US or play Tonto to a Lone Ranger US agent.
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  4. I loved that Al-Masih is not a cocky know-it-all prepared with the answers. He doesn’t have a plan to save the world and does not go around showing off how much he knows about whoever is in front of him. (“Ah Agent Aviram, I have been expecting you.”) God’s Will is revealed from moment to moment—and that is enough for him. Trusting in God’s goodness means trusting, as he says, “Nothing shall befall us, except what God has ordained.” Side note, also loved how simply and pragmatically the guidance comes—from an Instagram post, a ‘spontaneous’ decision, a dream.
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  5. The show doesn’t shy away from asking difficult questions relevant to modern life and doesn’t provide easy answers. Al-Masih killing an injured dog to put him out of his suffering is a courageous scene to write. Likewise, the show’s take on abortion and immigration (…and ACLU lawyers!) At a larger level, the entire architecture of the show is designed as a spiritual Rorschach test, with enough evidence to support alternative theories. As Al-Masih says in his sermon on the Washington: “What you see happening depends on you.”Messiah Netflix
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  6. I loved that each character has a different crisis of faith. The CIA agent, the ex-Mossad officer, the pastor, his wife and daughter, each has a different challenge to finding peace. The pastor Felix Iguero (John Ortiz) wants to believe and has moments of Grace but falters when he demands a plan. His wife Anna (Melinda Page Hamilton) wants to believe but not at the cost of the security of her family. The ex-Mossad officer Aviram (Tomer Sisley) keeps recreating situations of self-punishment for his past guilt but refuses to accept forgiveness. The CIA agent Eva Geller seems hell-bent on proving God wrong by having a baby even after her husband has died with his frozen sperm. Also, the show accurately depicts one important point: our fantasies of a savior notwithstanding, how easily the ego-mind reverts back to doubt even after experiencing miracles. The pastor burns his church even after he’s seen Al-Masih save his daughter from the storm and walk on water. Isn’t that how it is for all of us as well?
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  7. The show’s creator Michael Petroni reposes hope for the future in the youth. Screwed up with teenage angst and confusion, they are still the most clear-eyed and willing to trust. “The fire burns brightly” in them, as Al-Masih says to the pastor’s daughter Rebecca (Stefania LaVie Owen) at one point. The other reflection of Al-Masih is the refugee boy, Jibril (Named after the Arabic name for the angel Gabriel meaning ‘hero/strength of God’. By the way, the Biblical choices of names are intriguing in themselves. Aviram and Eva are the two characters who seem most hopelessly stuck outside heaven… coincidence?)
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  8. The government and religious machinery from both sides of the world are united in trying to discredit him, without any desire to know the truth about who he is. As the rich televangelist played by Beau Bridges suggests, they need to keep God out of these decisions.
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  9. Loved that the character of Al-Masih spends much time communing in silence, instead of running around problem-solving. He’s comfortable even in a jail cell without needing to fix other prisoners’ problems. Neither does he try to unite Christianity and Islam—his single focus is on our connection with God. Broken spokes on a wheel don’t need to be fused together, they need to be joined to the center. Then they all work in unison. A nice reminder that the joining between man and God is the only real joining, not the joining between bodies or between dreams.
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  10. Finally, loved his conviction that ‘History has ended.’ (Eva Geller’s father reinforces this when he says he has been feeling something different in the sunrise these days) And by the way, in case you didn’t notice, the show was released on January 1, 2020… or if you want to call it ‘20/20’. Is it time to look with clarity at our world and simply “make a new choice”?
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Can’t wait for Season 2 of the show. I hope it is greenlit by the Algorithms-That-Be at Netflix and I hope the show holds its nerve to keep asking the questions that are worth asking. What if God really exists? What if His Will is audible to each one of us? Would we follow even without knowing the entire plan? Would we drink our fill like the bird that finds water in unseasonal frost, or would we ask questions first?

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Prayer of Oneness

There are times, when even the most sincere seeker experiences ‘disconnection’. This disconnection can last hours, days or even weeks. Many seekers hence follow a daily ritual. Some follow a particular meditation style, some a breathing technique, because a daily ritual has a very simple purpose – it brings you back home.

This prayer was originally written by my brother GD to help a few friends who said they kept forgetting the core teaching; who kept getting disconnected… and needed a simple, short, crisp reminder of their true nature. So GD created this small reminder – in the form of an ‘advaita’ prayer – to help them stay connected to their essence.

Just one suggestion… please don’t rush through it.

Go slowly… and savor each line to experience the true power and energy of this unique prayer. It will reveal deeper meanings each time you connect with it.

PS: For those of you who would like a printout for daily use, we have included a pdf file which you can download. Enjoy 🙂 Prayer of Oneness PDF

 

GD Daily Advaita Prayer

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The Silent Accuser

The Silent Accusation

The human mind is powerful and subtle. It is also twisted and self-deceptive. Many journeys towards peace, joy and healing are sabotaged by hidden undertows of fear, guilt and blame.

One hears, for example, of people who suffer from chronic ill-health or depression, who appear to be sincerely trying everything to get out of it, but nothing seems to work. A place we would never think of looking for a solution is whether there is any hidden benefit for the person in holding on to this suffering.

Twisted as it sounds, often there is. Through sickness one can get sympathy, attention, pity-love, control, no responsibilities and moral superiority. And the heaviest anchor holding a sickness against the winds of healing may be a subconscious desire to punish someone and hold them guilty. The way this game works, my mentor GD explained to me, is that with your sick body, you tell these others: ‘Look what YOU did to me! While there is tremendous suffering, there is seemingly greater value in that righteous moral superiority. While there is danger, it is overridden by a belief in a more grievous threat to one’s self-image and ‘reality’ without this defense. GD reminded me of a quote from A Course In Miracles: ‘Damaged bodies are accusers’.

This game can play out across decades and its outward expression need not be only through sickness – its expression can be through loneliness, depression, poverty or chronic failure. It can play out between son and father, between husband and wife, between employee and boss, even between a disciple and teacher. In each case, the baleful glance of the sufferer says, ‘What is happening to me is your fault. And my suffering is proof that you are evil, and I am noble.’ In each case, the suffering is a cold finger pointing accusingly at the imagined perpetrator.

A few years ago, when I had quit my full time job, I had gotten into a panic over finances. With a seemingly mountainous home loan and monthly expenses of the family which were princely, I felt crushed by an unfair and overwhelming burden. To right the situation, I began living a Spartan life. My extreme self-denial became a silent way to make my family feel guilty about their spending. I stayed unhappy, contracted and secretly resentful without realizing what was happening. While the reality was that finances were taken care of – and unexpected monies beyond my expectations were coming in – the mind refused to let go of being the poor victim for a long time. In fact, until last night.

Last night, my therapist-wife Aditi reminded me how ironic it was that today I had more money than ever before and yet I was feeling poorer than I had as a teenager. One of the questions she asked to help me understand the reason behind it was: ‘Imagine yourself happy, abundant and expansive – now, what’s wrong with this picture?’ I saw that I would lose control over the family – if I went for a holiday to France, I wouldn’t be able to tell them not to. I would have to ‘forgive’ them for their past misdeeds of burdening me with earning money. Holding on to my chronic internal lack and self-denial (which I had given a spiritual lacquer to) actually felt safer than letting it go. Because this device’s power lies in the dark conviction that the problem is external and not-my-choice, simply bringing it into the sunlight is enough. Seeing this device clearly, without self-judgment, was incredibly freeing. Laughter, expansiveness and love resurfaced.

So if you have a chronic issue that resists healing — and if you would like to end the suffering — ask yourself what is the hidden benefit in holding onto it and whom do you hold responsible for it? Ask yourself if it was completely solved, what would go ‘wrong’? And most of all, ask yourself: If blaming anyone was not an option, how would you deal with this situation?

You may just find that true healing has begun in that instant.

Specialness ~ An extra-ordinary talk by GD

Deepti Gujar’s “extra-ordinary” post on Specialness includes a free audio download of GD speaking on the subject. Where all do you still try to maintain your specialness? Where have you become imprisoned by your talent and cut off from life? A worthy exploration…

Flowering of eternity

This is one of the best talks I’ve ever heard. It is one of those group sessions where GD opens to a page in A Course In Miracles, starts reading it, and opens up a discussion in the group based on the lines. This is a talk I kept visiting once…twice…thrice and every time I did, I became more aware of acting out from specialness. Eventually I just sat down with my journal and started making a note of all the places where I play out this specialness, pausing it at very intervals. GD has so incisively pulled out the many different angles to this subject that it is one hell of an ego buster! Though of course, he does it with his characteristic humour that softens some of the blow 🙂

I invite you to hear it with this context – Are you aware of the many ways in…

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