I AM: The Shift is About to Hit the Fan" The InnerView about the movie with Tom Shadyac
Since What the BLEEP Do We Know!? in 2004, several spiritual / transformational films have been released. None so far has crossed over to bring the truth of our Oneness and the power of consciousness to the mass mainstream audience. The new film “I AM” may very well do just that.
Its creator, Tom Shadyac, is an award-winning Hollywood writer/director (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor, Liar, Liar, Bruce Almighty, etc.) “I AM” is an entertaining and provocative exploration of the nature of the Universe and human experience.
You became one of Hollywood’s most successful writer/directors by making people laugh. Why this film?
I created “I AM” after suffering post-concussion syndrome, an untreatable condition from a bicycling accident. My symptoms included intense, painful reaction to light and sound (tools of my trade!), severe mood swings, constant ringing in my head, and other things. I tried all the traditional medical treatments; nothing worked. Then alternative modalities, including biofeedback and a hyperbaric oxygen chamber; again, nothing worked. After several months of torture, I welcomed death. I wasn’t suicidal, but I knew I was done. And I figured, “If I was going to die, what did I want to say before I went?” Suddenly, it all became simple and very clear. I wanted to tell people what I had come to know.
I set out to make the scientific case for humanity’s Oneness, the survival value and effectiveness of cooperation, the primacy of the heart, and the impact of consciousness and emotion on our physical world.
What was your life like before all of this happened?
I was a successful filmmaker in Hollywood. This brought me all the perks—a 17,000-square mansion in Pasadena, private jets, exotic cars ... the whole 999 yards. What I discovered, when I began to look deeply, was that the world I was living in was a lie. The game I had won at, which I thought would help to heal the world, might be what was destroying it.
What got you going again after the accident?
After months of isolation, with no visitors and virtually no communication with the outside world, suddenly, unexpectedly, my PCS symptoms began to recede. When I improved to the point where I could actually travel, I decided to grab a camera and a film crew and start a journey to find the people who had helped me question the life I had been leading and try to learn and understand more. I wanted to spark a conversation around two questions: What’s wrong with our world? What can we do to fix it?
You say there’s an underlying problem that causes all the problems of our world. What is that?
It is the separation of ourselves from the natural world. And the implications of that separation. This all results from the particular scientific story we’ve been telling ourselves for the last three hundred years. It’s the story that grew out of Newtonian science—that the universe is predictable because it is essentially mechanical, a giant machine—and Darwin’s Evolution of the Species—survival of the fittest as a result of competition.
What we know today is that these old assumptions simply are not true. The new, emergent understanding of the nature of the universe contradicts them. But they are still the most common informers of our belief systems, hence, our behavior.
In “I AM,” I use everything I’ve got—comedy, curiosity, storytelling—to reveal the truths of what we are now discovering, through quantum physics and other research, about our nature.
What are those truths?
The universe is not a machine and neither are we. We are all connected to each other and to everything. Our #1 organ of intelligence is the heart, not the brain. 90% to 95% of information flows from heart to brain, not the other way round. Our consciousness and emotions impact the physical world around us. Research demonstrates that we’re hardwired for a compassionate response to the troubles of others. Humankind’s basic nature is cooperation and democracy, not competition.
In other words, science is finally catching up with the ancient, basic principles of religion and spirituality. The emerging story is the old story!
What do you suggest each of us do to solve challenges we face at the beginning of the 21st Century?
The solution is really about a deeper transformation that must occur in each of us. It’s not my calling to tell people what they should do. I’m about sharing the principles that awoke in me, affected me, and changed my life. Once you experiences a baseline awakening, the To-Do list forms naturally. Frankly, I prefer that each of us has a To-Be list!
Change starts with consciousness and our own definition of ourselves. Each of us has the power to make a difference. It’s the Power of One. Everybody has that power. Just do something. From moment to moment, everything we say or do ... or don’t say or don’t do ... makes a difference!
Yes, but in practical terms, what can we do to fix the world?
We can start by fixing ourselves. Mother Teresa never thought about solving hunger or poverty. She saw a sick, hungry person and reached out to help. What’s needed is an awakening of one’s own heart, a personal transformation. Our outside world is just a manifestation of what we’re holding inside. So the work is on ourselves.
So how does your attitude inform “I AM”?
I let the film’s content speak for itself. Democracy and consensus decision-making is the basis of life among many species, from insects and birds, to deer and primates. Humans actually function better and remain healthier when expressing love, care, gratitude and cooperation. Consciousness is linked to the behavior of the quantum world.
Talk about activism, the nature of taking action.
If everyone is intentional with their small acts, over time, there’s massive change. That’s the story of women’s suffrage, India’s independence, the American civil rights movement, the Vietnam peace protestors, and the end of apartheid in South Africa. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, says, ‘critical thinking followed by action’ is the most important thing we can do now. There’s no such thing as a tiny act.
“I AM” is a deep soul investigation. What are your roots in the spiritual quest?
I was drawn to spiritual matters early in life. I was a fan of Jesus—not the dogma, but the power of his moral teachings; also of Gandhi, St. Francis and Martin Luther King. I read and studied the mystic poets—Rumi, Hafiz, Emerson, Thoreau, Rainer Maria Rilke, Mary Oliver—for more than 20 years. Later on, I was exposed to science, when a friend turned me onto the recent discoveries of quantum physics. I’d been talking spiritually about the unity of everything, and in quantum physics I learned about the illusion of time, connection, quantum entanglement ... it was all there!
So what are you doing now, after all this story?
I sold the Pasadena estate with its furniture and artwork and now live in a mobile home community in north Malibu. I’m flying commercially these days. I’ve started riding my bike to work. I’m teaching at a local college, another venue for sharing my discoveries.
And the money of the “I AM” project? Where do proceeds go?
All proceeds derived from the release of “I AM,” in all media, will go to THE FOUNDATION FOR I AM, a not-for-profit I established to fund various worthy causes and to educate the next generation about the very issues and problems explored in the film. And, if I ever direct another Hollywood movie, I plan to receive something like the Director’s Guild minimum directing fee—around $210,000—and have the rest of my usual eight-figure fee deposited into a charitable account.
And in the larger context, whatever I don’t need, I no longer consider to be mine. I just direct it to where it’s needed.
What are your next steps?
I’m just serving this film for now, seeing how far it’ll take us. I do have plans to follow-up with a TV talk show, “Shift Happens,” and possibly a feature film, “Planet Walker.” It’s a true story of John Francis, an American environmentalist. After witnessing an oil spill in San Francisco Bay in 1971, he stopped riding in motorized vehicles for 22 years. This guy spent 17 years in voluntary silence, and during that time he walked the entire length of the lower 48 States, from sea to shining sea. He changed himself, and therefore the world.
The film opened in selected cities in February, 2011, and will open nationwide soon.