In today’s busy world it’s paramount to take time out just for yourself and do something you enjoy, for no other reason than that you enjoy it! This past month, one thing that I’ve looked forward to every week is my delicious serving of Avatar, The Last Airbender, a 61-episode, Emmy Award-winning animated television series of which I now joyfully own the DVD box set. I find Avatar to be wonderfully spiritually nourishing and beautifully nurturing to my soul. Each week I cosy up in the living room and watch it with my mum and my 6 year old sister, all of us devouring each episode – always eager and excited for our next sitting. It’s a show that both children and adults enjoy, complete with tremendous voice acting, fantastic animation, breath-taking scenery, great music, and awesome execution. Most excitingly for me are the deep spiritual messages and sage-wisdom that is layered throughout the magical storyline. In my opinion it makes for a simply phenomenal recipe – a Divine delight!
The word “Avatar” is a Sanskrit term meaning “descent,” and is used in Hinduism to describe the incarnation of a Hindu deity who visits Earth to help humanity at a crisis point. Today, the term Avatar is more broadly used to describe spiritually advanced beings that come to Earth to guide people. Considering that you are reading Conscious Inspired Living Magazine, I would advocate that you yourself are an Avatar!
The cartoon features a child Avatar named Aang. Written and created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, it is structured like a trilogy with each season presented as a “book” and every episode a “chapter”. Each “book” takes its name from one of the elements that the protagonist – The Last Airbender – must master: Water, Earth, and Fire.
Along with the four elements there are four nations that correspond with each element, and within each nation is a remarkable order of beings called the “benders.” These beings can learn to harness their inborn talent and manipulate their native element. Not everyone in the Avatar universe can bend an element, and those that can are only able to bend one, however, the Avatar is a being able to influence all four elements. The Avatar is also capable of communicating with the spirit-world, often considered to be formed out of a fifth element known as the ether. Bending is a powerful form combining martial art and elemental magic, and starting with the mastery of his or her native element, the Avatar learns to bend all four elements. Throughout the ages, the countless incarnations of the Avatar have served to keep the four nations in harmony.
It is interesting to observe that modern science is now verifying the close link between our thoughts and reality, thus the ability to “bend” is not so much a distant concept but one you might be familiar with yourself. I love to playfully explore the reflections from this series in our world, and with mind and matter being so closely bonded, everyone is in fact bending reality in their own ways, whether consciously or not. As conscious Avatars you and I are therefore learning to use our inborn, innate ability – which is within all of us – to “bend” our reality into a more harmonious, loving, peaceful existence. Let’s keep at it!
The cartoon series takes place 100 years after the Fire Nation declares war against all other nations. In it’s crusade they have eliminated all the airbenders in their search for the Avatar who is known to have been reincarnated into the Air Nation. Meanwhile, Aang has been trapped in ice for 100 years and knows nothing of the war. The series starts with Aang being accidentally freed by a waterbender and then primarily follows the adventures of him and his companions, Sokka, Katara, and later Toph, as he sets out to master all four elements and defeat the Fire Nation. There is also a strong secondary focus on Zuko, the banished crown prince of the Fire Nation, who’s mission is to capture Aang in order to restore his honor.
I believe Avatar – The Last Airbender offers some of the best fiction ever written for children. Abundant with all the ingredients to make for a truly enriching experience, topped with lashings of smiles and feel-good vibes, it oozes exuberance, captivating your inner-child; a simple delight to watch!
For the enthusiastic adult, the epic parable explores sophisticated philosophical, cultural, emotional and spiritual issues which have plagued human civilizations since the emergence of reason, and it does this with lightheartedness and joy. It tackles, no less than issues of greed, power, spirituality, and the formation of identity and moral values, whilst grappling with the ideals of pacifism, teaching teamwork, compassion, empathy and humility. Additionally, like the cherry on the cake, it exemplifies wisdom, understanding, the appreciation of art, nature and connectedness – our connectedness to each other, to nature, to animals, to the spirit-world and to the whole universe at large.
I’ve included a short video that really captures the essence and beauty of the series. In the following scene a wise Buddha-esque character teaches that we are all one and that everything is connected:
The storyline traverses goofy playfulness, young teen crushes and love, family power dynamics, friendship, mental illness, and gut wrenching loss. Intelligent, exciting, humorous and surprisingly emotional, so beautifully blended is this story that the fun, action and struggles are adeptly punctuated with moving poignancy. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve found myself getting teary-eyed whilst watching it! Yes, it’s that good.
Furthermore, it’s a brilliant primer for Eastern spiritual ideals and mythology – it’s a real breath of fresh air! This week I found my little sister sat in the lotus meditation pose, and when I asked her what she was doing, she told me she was copying Aang from Avatar. This made my heart smile and it continues to do so knowing that through watching this series, lasting, beautiful imprints are being made in her mind, imprints that she might not have otherwise been exposed to – this I really love.
Christmas is nearly upon us, so if you’re looking for spiritually nourishing and soul-nurturing gifts for your children, and for you, then I propose that Avatar is well worth your contemplation.
In summary, the whole series is phenomenal. After one episode you’ll be left with a charming, endearing impression, desiring more – trust me! It’s awesome. I dare you to taste it. Treat yourself.. eat it up, devour it like a sweet peach and let the juice dribble down your chin!
The Last Airbender: http://www.bit.ly/avatarshop