Fr. Antony Thomas Ittikunnath OCD July 4th, 2018

In his book “A Brief History of Spirituality”, Philip Sheldrake said, “Spirituality implies some kind of vision of the human spirit and of what will assist it to achieve full potential.” The Documentary Movie “I AM” by Tom Shadyac is a spark of light and work of love, which describes the above said definition of spirituality. It unveils the true nature of the human being and his purpose on earth, when one is placed against the infinite horizon and the world around him.

Tom Shadyac is one of Hollywood’s all-time leading comedy directors with his films, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor, Liar, Liar, Patch Adams, and Bruce Almighty grossing nearly 2 billion dollars at the box office. However in I AM, Shadyac himself steps in front of the camera to recount what happened to him after a cycling accident left him incapacitated, possibly for good. Though he ultimately recovered, he emerged with a new sense of purpose, determined to share his own awakening to his prior life of excess and greed, and to investigate how he as an individual, and we as a race, could improve the way we live and walk in the world.

It starts with a provoking question, “what is wrong with the world and ends up with another enlightening and inspiring question, “what is right with the world?” 

Meeting with a variety of thinkers and doers–remarkable men and women from the worlds of science, philosophy, academia and faith– he tries to answer man’s quest for enlightenment. He makes it clear at the very outset, that that the world he was living in was a lie.  He was in pursuit of happiness and sought it from wealth, fame and other stuffs of the world. He thought just stuffs will make the difference. Man is born to buy- I shop, therefore I am. But he understands that stuffs leads to even greater greed and war.

Man was understood as one belongs to a species that separate from other. And this is a dangerous idea. Here, Tom collects the ideas from different personals to find out what is human kind’s basic nature. Observing the nature we can see a harmony. Herds, birds and even insects move in harmony and how? How do they communicate? He concludes that the basic nature of every creature, including man, is cooperation. Even when Darwin explains his theory of evolution, he uses the word ‘survival’ only twice. Whereas, the word ‘love’ is repeated 95 times.

So sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. Even by existence came to be, out of the love of two persons. “We are, because, we belong.” When I see someone suffering, I feel it. Because in me, there is the seed of compassion. Man is defined as a rational being. And brain is projected as controlling everything. But heart is more important, because nerves are connected to the heart too. Heart is smart. It is the seat of emotions. Heart is first to receive the information.

Fundamentally, there is no separation from the other. We affect each other’s life. There is an idea of connectivity prevailing in the basic nature of all beings on earth. Even 90% of the genes are identical among man. Who we are, depends on how we behave. When the perception change, the world changes.

“Nothing in nature takes more than it needs.” There is no trace of greed in nature. So what we need is not greed, but empathy and compassion. So what is right with the world? It is empathy and compassion. There is nothing we can call tiny act. Everything matters. One person alone can do nothing against global poverty. But, I can help the one near to me. Love is real, scientific and is coated in our DNA.

Coming back to the definition of spirituality by Sheldrake, it is nothing but reaching out to our full potentiality. So spirituality is nothing but, trying to be what all I can be in the realm of love. “I AM” here on earth, because I belong to the other.