Movie Night: The Hustler, starring Paul Newman

by Shunyamurti |

Why The Hustler? So many allusions to recent teachings could of course be mentioned. It is about the game of pool, which involves disappearance and death, but also growth of character and facing the deepest pain, thus becoming the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

We could mention the writing on the mirror (I won’t say more, so not to spoil it) that includes the word “perverted,” and perhaps understand it in the context of the perversion that is the twisted root of every ego.

We can also view the film as showing us Kali Yuga headed for a cataclysm. The film lays out the full disgusting display of the rotten core the empire of modernity. Our faces are shoved into the waste of deadened consciousness, the corruption of life in the good old USA, the barren desert of the real, where the only way to make a decent buck is to become an indecent human being.

The film takes us into a kumbha mela of criminality, where we loiter with the pool sharks, their slimy managers, the bouncers and the hit men; not to mention the whores and the chambermaids, the hangers-on and the houseboys, the paid musicians and cabbies, all the field hands who hold the system all together.

But still the whole contraption depends on character. It needs a champion. But it is also terrified of champions, because real champions would destroy the system, as Samson tried to do, after he woke up from being captured by it. There is a difference between the character of a hustler, and that of a champion. There is a difference between desire and love. There is a difference between corruption and nobility.

The film softly asks us to call our shot: what kind of beings are we? Are we slaves or are we free? Are we fallen human ego constructs? Or are we manifestations of the Almighty?



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