To Kill A Mockingbird: Shunyamurti Movie Night Essay

Updated: Jul 7, 2018

On Saturday nights, the Sat Yoga Ashram turns into the Sat Yoga Cinémathèque, perhaps the greatest art house cinema this side of Holy Wood. From Tarkovsky to Kubrick, from Bresson to Malick to Jodorowsky, from Hollywood to postmodern classics, the sangha gathers to explore the spiritual journey of ego dissolution and soul liberation through the lens of film. For each film, Shunyamurti offers an exquisite teaching to guide the experience in a way that will provide the deepest and most thoughtful reflections and post-movie discussions. We hope these poetic treasures will inspire you to find the sacred journey and intelligence that is hidden in the films we feature.

This month, to mark Father’s Day, we share with you Shunyamurti’s introduction to the classic film, To Kill A Mockingbird.

Since we just passed Father’s Day, it may be helpful to see one of the great classical films that exquisitely portrays a true symbolic father, showing how he raises children, how he upholds the law, how he faces tests of courage, how he accepts the world as it is, and works to make it better.

To Kill a Mockingbird stars Gregory Peck, in the role of Atticus Finch, a southern small town attorney at law, and a widower with two young children. The film is perhaps even more about the children, especially the tomboy daughter, Scout, and how she gradually grows into her femininity, keeping alive the father’s invincible courage and intelligence. The film depicts a North American culture that is long gone, and probably was never quite like it is depicted here. The racism and apartheid is a structural reality, and the black folk are all too cowed to dare raise a protest, even in the face of obvious and outrageous injustice. They depend on the help of the one white man with the courage to honor truth over racial collusion.

One wonders if it was necessary to make Finch a widower. Would it have been possible for him to be the same powerful symbolic figure if he had to contend with a wife as well? Or would her own way of protecting the children have produced arguments and indecisiveness on his part? Could a couple relationship in the modern context permit the embodiment of symbolic leadership in a father? Certainly nowadays such a unified family field of higher order is rarely to be known.

This film demonstrates the lost ideal of what a man should be, and how he should function in the world. It answers the question of what is a real adult. It is a very moving experience to witness such a being in action. May you learn much from this masterpiece.



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