Jim Carrey, well known for his comic acting, is not so well known for his deep spiritual connection with the Universe – although segments of the video of his addressing the graduating class of the Maharishi University of Management recently went viral. Michael Sternfeld was behind the scenes at the campus producing the event and reports on Jim’s huge heart connection.
Sometimes a gift turns out to be quite different from what we expect. When I was asked by Maharishi University of Management (MUM: Fairfield, Iowa, USA) to co-produce the Jim Carrey ‘production’ for MUM’s 2014 Graduation, I was honored to help and also figured it might be an interesting adventure working with an A-list comedian. Little did I suspect that valuable life lessons would unfold through the process.
Of course, there were a few challenges along the way, as Carrey likes to dream big. Why not create a 2-storey-high painting and have it freighted into Fairfield for the big ‘reveal’ at the climax of his commencement address. Much of the production revolved around how to get this super-sized painting through the doors of the Golden Dome (the meditation facility at MUM), suspend it from the rafters, as well as creating a tent-sized covering for the painting to drop at the precise cue, “Risk being seen in all your glory” – all while being illuminated by a giant bank of black lights.
But these behind-the-scenes dramas just set the stage for what really matters most (and that sentence foreshadows the very nature of this story). Jim Carrey’s speech took us on a journey from the fulfillment of our desires in true “Secret” fashion, to move through the field of desire itself, and finally resolving in the deepest levels of life. He described how he learned to fulfill his desires, “…as far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it while letting go of how it might come to pass.” But rising to the ‘top of the mountain’ as one of the highest-grossing comedic stars, he found one thing missing at the peak – himself. He realized that “the only one that I hadn’t freed was myself, and that’s when my search for identity deepened”.
Carrey went back to the drawing board to do the deep work. Transcendence – through his meditation practice, combined with the vicissitudes of life experience, and perhaps his interactions with Eckhart Tolle, must have led to the insight, “…I wished people could realize all their dreams of wealth and fame so they could see that it’s not where they’ll find their sense of completion.” Jim seems to be one of the fortunate ones who came out the other side on the journey of personal transformation, humbled with the realization that “the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is”. Then he came to the sobering conclusion that “Everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart.”
Musing on his words and my own recurring puzzle, I wondered: is it really possible to go beyond our ego desires, until we actually have the chance to fulfil them first? That nagging ‘spiritually-correct’ voice in my head keeps reminding me that I’m supposed to evolve only by somehow going beyond all my small self ego desires. But in real life experience for those on the path, I sense that unless we fulfil some of our deeper desires, shadows of our own self-doubt lurk somewhere in the recesses of our own mind. Then these impulses manage to come out at the most inopportune moments, as our shadows rear their ugly heads. Carrey’s evolution, though, seems to have been blessed by the heart-transforming experience of coming down from that ever-rising mountain-top to relish the magic within the simple moment. He added, “All there will ever be is what’s happening [right] here…and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based on either love or fear”.
The grads seemed profoundly inspired by Carrey’s words, but words alone have a pretty short half-life. How are the words actually lived? That’s the kingdom’s key… and Jim’s Midas touch was most reflected in the gold of his interactions with everyone he encountered. Watching him in action in the three days leading up to the big event, I marvelled at how he almost seemed to stop time while connecting so deeply with every individual – even in the midst of time pressures and throngs of admirers.His presence reminded me of the timeless experience of mystic poet William Blake,
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
After the graduation ceremony, for example, he seized the moment – looking me deeply in the eyes, shaking my hand, and gave the production team the most heartfelt thank you for all we had done to have the production come off so well. A beautiful sincere presence was maintained as he shook the hand of every single graduate, signed autographs, posed for pics with the Fairfield police and, in every instance, his loved flowed. This presence was clearly reflected in his inspiring words to the grads,
“My soul is not contained within the limits of my body. My body is contained within the limitlessness of my soul – one unified field of nothing dancing for no particular reason… except maybe to comfort and entertain itself. As that shift happens in you, you won’t be feeling the world. You’ll be felt by it – you will be embraced by it. Now, I’m always at the beginning. I have a reset button called presence and I ride that button constantly.”
I, for one, was inspired by witnessing his engaging process. A ‘true man’, Jim seemed to fully embody his closing charge, “Choose love…and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart”. Thank you Jim Carrey for touching our hearts, and for walking your talk so well.
Michael Sternfeld is a body-centered therapist, who has combined his professional dance background with bodywork skills and an MA in Vedic Psychology, to create an integrated embodiment approach called, Body Presence. He is also a world-class producer of epic events, featuring some of the biggest names in the entertainment world, especially during a recent five-year stint as producer for the David Lynch Foundation.
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