Posted by: justbewhoyouare | March 15, 2011


The movie, The Adjustment Bureau conveys yet another typical Hollywood love story in which the viewer is seduced by the longing heart of politician David Norris and the chemistry that builds between he and contemporary ballet dancer Elise. What is typical about this movie is the message it conveys that there is someone out there who can take your loneliness away and until you can be with this person you will never feel fulfilled. For Norris, played by Matt Damon, meeting and sharing a kiss with Elise, played by Emily Blunt, minutes before he delivers a concession speech, forever changes his life. This is especially true when he is informed by a group of men in suits who call themselves the “Adjustment Bureau” that he is not meant to be with Elise and therefore must let her go. Being told he can’t be with someone who has made him feel unlike he’s ever felt before only makes Norris want to find and be with her all the more.

Before meeting Elise, Norris loved the life of a politician because he believed he was helping those in the neighborhood where he grew up. After meeting her, he no longer cares about any of this. All he can think about is Elise. This means he has made Elise responsible, as he tells her later when he finds and makes love with her, for removing the feeling he’s had all his life of being alone. She tells him she’s not prepared to take on such responsibility but he counters with “too late.” This sets the stage for what later becomes the message at the end of the movie, which is that because Norris and Elise do indeed feel a strong attraction to each other and therefore have risked everything to be together, of course they live happily ever after.

This is a typical Hollywood love story conclusion and it is also a total illusion. It is messages like this that sets humans on an endless search for Mr. or Mrs. Right, convinced there has to be someone out there who can fill the emptiness we have in our own hearts. This is tragic because it perpetuates unnecessary emotional suffering because no one else could possibly ever fill the emptiness we feel inside. The reason such emptiness exists is because we abandoned ourselves a long time ago and thus, we are the only ones responsible for re-uniting with our own heart.

There’s nothing wrong with a relationship of course, but it is important to understand that if there is any aspect of ourselves we have not been willing to accept or love, it is guaranteed that we will not be able to accept or love this same aspect in our partner. Sharing our love is one thing but expecting another to take away our loneliness? Initially this does happen but it is not a long-term solution as scores have experienced when, after the initial “honeymoon” period is over, uninvited traits began to surface in either one or the other or both.

There is a lover deep inside each of us that adores us and wants so very much to share its unconditional, even romantic love with us if we would only allow it. This lover is who we really are. It is the divine and cultivating a relationship with this inner lover is the only thing that will ever bring fulfillment. But this is not a message we’ve ever been told, so even when we know deep inside that it will never really work, we carry right on with our search for someone to make us happy because we are addicted to the search itself—to the romantic notion that true love exists outside ourselves. Actually, it does, but only when we’ve found it on the inside. Until then it may be show up, but only to show us what we already have. When we meet someone who “feels right,” as was the case with Norris, we feel we have to be with this person. We’re convinced we can’t live without them because this “feels right” emotion is strong and we believe they’re responsible for it, that without them this good feeling would not exist. However, this other person is actually only reflecting an aspect of us that we’ve been out of touch with—even ignorant of, but very much exists.

We have to capability to evoke such good feelings from within without anyone else involved at all but to experience this requires loving ourselves in a way we’ve never been willing to do before. We must become the lover that this longing aspect of us is looking for. The other person doesn’t actually have it, not in a way that could ever fulfill us but this is the illusion we’ve bought into, propagated often by Hollywood through movies such as this one.

That having been said however, if you are willing to look “between the lines” while viewing this movie, there are profound insights available to be seen. For example, consider that the potential Elise represents for Norris is actually the divine lover that is within Norris (as well as all of us). From this perspective, we now have a story that is far more accurate as it relates to the human condition because the human aspect of each one of us is in search of the divine and will never rest until we have re-united with this true aspect of ourselves because it is who we really are—and it is the source of all those great feelings others can mirror for us but are in no way responsible for. In fact, this is why we are on the planet—to remember who we are and become one with that which we are—unconditional compassionate love.

In addition, consider that the “Adjustment Bureau” represents the human mind which acts according to the direction we gave it once upon a time to protect us and keep us safe. Regarding matters of our heart, a few betrayals was all it took to convince us that keeping our heart wide open was not a good idea—not to anyone, including the divine—especially the divine, because we tend to hold the divine responsible for the “bad” experiences we have. So, typically our mind has the intention of keeping us safe and protected and yet for some strange reason we allow it to convince us that there is someone else who will do this for us, someone who will protect us, and we refuse to believe we’re capable of providing such safety and protection for ourselves. And so we surrender authority over our heart to our mind and allow it to control us with false messages that tell us to look outside ourselves for love and protection.

In this movie, not just Norris but all humans have given up control to the Adjustment Bureau, which like the mind, believes it knows our best interest. Like the Bureau, the mind does whatever it needs to do to keep us protected—from ourselves, because it doesn’t trust that we would survive if left on our own. What this tells us is that the mind feels threatened by anything that does not go along with what it believes is best for us. It goes on high alert and, like the Bureau, begins scrambling to squelch all such irrational ideas.

If we can see Norris’ commitment to follow what feels good as equivalent to a commitment to develop a relationship with the divine no matter what the cost, then this movie can be a tremendous motivator to never give up on truly getting to know who we really are. Norris keeps asking, “How could something that feels this good be so discouraged?” This is also what we feel deep inside about spontaneous impulses we experience from time to time to act in ways that would take us out of our comfort zone, that in reality come from the divine within. They initially feel good and yet are generally instantaneously dismissed by the mind because such impulses usually don’t make logical sense. But Norris doesn’t buy into this and neither should we. And yet, because the mind has been in control for a long time, breaking out of its grip is not an easy task.

What I love most about this movie is how it reveals the necessity of total surrender in order for Norris to finally get what he wants. The same can be applied to our search for the divine. Total surrender is the only thing that will ultimately cause the mind to give up its control. The Bureau tells Norris that if he insists on being with Elise, he won’t make it far as a politician and she will never achieve her goals as a dancer. It is this threat that motivates him to let her go, which appears to be an act of true love—not wanting to jeopardize her future. And yet, there is a nagging feeling inside that won’t go away that eventually he chooses to act on. He misses her and refuses to live without her. The mind is good at telling us to deny what we feel in favor of the greater good (which in Norris’ case means allowing Elise to blossom as a dancer) but often such denial turns out to be a denial of our own heart’s desire. This same nagging feeling Norris felt exists within all of us. It is a call from the divine within to let go of our trust in the mind and instead to place it in what our heart is telling us.

The Bureau has also threatened to have Norris’ mind erased if he tells anyone about its existence so when he chooses to go after his lover, he knows full well what is at stake. He may well end up literally going out of his mind but it doesn’t matter to him. He is willing to take that risk because he wants to be with his lover even if he can only be with her for a short time. And yet, when he’s willing to lose everything the opposite occurs. He not only doesn’t lose his mind, he gets his lover.

Likewise, when Elise represents our true self—the divine within, we can understand that we need this same commitment to be willing to risk everything if we want to truly break free from the tyrannical control the mind has over us. However, from the mind’s point of view, the idea of total surrender sounds like a death threat. This is why it’s a challenge to choose the desire of the heart over what the mind is telling us because when threatened, the mind steps up its rhetoric to ignore such desires. This amounts to a literal battle between the heart and mind, which can cause tremendous stress.

Still, with a willingness to follow our heart no matter what the cost, instead of losing our mind, something else happens. The mind gives up its need to distract us from the voice of our heart. Again, it only does this because it has been trained by us to protect us from any potential harm. But when it sees that we have faith in something so strongly that we’re willing to even die if necessary to achieve it, the mind will realize we mean business and will gladly return control back to us. After all, we are the master. The mind was never designed to be our guide. It functions best in a supportive role. It’s just that when we gave up our authority, the servant took over and when we forgot we we’re originally the master the mind became comfortable in its new position and has been dictating to us how to live ever since. And yet, one glance at history reminds us the mind has been a lousy guide.

When seen as an encouragement to be true to thyself, The Adjustment Bureau delivers hope, stimulates courage and evokes a commitment to cultivate at all costs a relationship with our heart, which is the voice of the divine. If you begin to trust its subtle impulses by acting upon them, going beyond logic and reason, amazing things will begin to happen in your life and because of this, eventually you will be able to trust your heart entirely. When you are at this level of faith in the divine (as expressed by your heart) the battle between the mind and your heart disappears, leaving you with a sense of peace and a knowing as to who you really are. This is when you truly begin to live life on your own terms. It is when you can achieve things you never thought possible. This is the message The Adjustment Bureau offers for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.


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