Terms such as awakening, enlightenment, a state of grace and "seeing the light" have all been used to describe the state that prophets, mystics, saints and gurus have appeared to have been held in. Most of the time these are just recounts of someones personal experience told by a third party or passed down through the ages in religious documents.
The documentary Awakening NOW explores first hand the basic concepts that surround a spiritual awakening as told by six teachers. The film explores with them about their thoughts and experiences on the topics of awakening, meditation, duality and enlightenment.
"What viewers can expect is more than a discussion on who is right and who is wrong, nor is it a discussion as to who has the answers and who doesn't" explains Jerel Mani, director of Awakening NOW. "It is an exploration of what man has been inquiring about since time immemorial. Many traditions have taught these concepts. What Awakening NOW is communicating are these concepts on a more contemporary level".
The six teachers chosen to participate in Awakening NOW share their personal views on spiritual awakening, while providing the opportunity to address any misconceptions on awakening and spirituality in general. "I want this film to be accessible to everyone, to help people understand the fundamentals of spiritual awakening" explains Jerel.
The teachers that take you on their own personal journeys are:
Master Charles Cannon, affectionately known as Master Charles, is a contemporary American mystic and master of meditation. His earliest years were marked by spontaneous, metanormal experiences of expanded, heightened and holistic states of awareness. His formative education was in the creative arts with emphasis on comparative religion and philosophy.
Swami Chetanananda is the abbot and spiritual director of the Nityananda Institute. From his college days, he knew he wanted his life to be about helping people and creating positive change in the world. Swamiji formalized his commitment to spiritual growth by being initiated as a swami (“master of oneself”) by Swami Muktananda on May 14, 1978. He took the name Chetanananda, which means "bliss of pure Self-awareness."
Andrew Cohen is an American spiritual teacher and visionary thinker widely recognized for his original contribution to the emerging field of evolutionary spirituality. Through his talks, retreats, publications, and ongoing dialogues with the leading philosophers, mystics, and activists of our time, he is becoming a defining voice in an international alliance of individuals and organizations who are committed to the transformation of human consciousness and culture.
Gangaji, an American born teacher and author, has traveled the globe since 1990, speaking with spiritual seekers from all walks of life. Her message is powerful in its clarity and simplicity: True peace and lasting fulfillment are not only our birthright, they are the essential nature of our being.
Isira Sananda is a Global Peace Ambassador. Her role is to inspire humanity to reclaim their own greater potential of wisdom, love, peace and compassion. She founded the world UNITY project, a declaration of humanitarian values. Isira is one of the modern world’s Spiritual Masters. Her work in teaching meditation, inspiring self-realization and campaigning for world peace over the last 18 years has brought her international recognition.
Swami Shankarananda Saraswati (Swamiji) is a meditation master in the powerful spiritual tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. This ancient yoga, which Swamiji calls Shiva Yoga, has been transmitted from master to student for thousands of years. He is in residence at the Shiva Ashram in Mt. Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.
These teachers were sought out by the director as living examples of those that have achieved highly awakened level of consciousness. Questions explored include what is enlightenment and what purpose does it serve? How does meditation fit in with this and what does it do for us? What is consciousness? What does the terms oneness or unity mean? Where does this thirst for further knowledge or knowing come from? Why have a teacher and how could that help us?
The answers are as interesting and varied as leaves on an autumn day. "But above all" Jerel adds "is what I had found was that these people are still just that - people, humans that have experienced the same feelings, emotions and suffering that we all have. People that have applied themselves, exploring and evolving. Driven by their own personal reasons, showing that it is possible and achievable for all.”
For these teachers, now "awakened", their journey continues. “The awakening is the key thing, not enlightenment” says Swami Shankarananda. “Once you are awakened enlightenment is inevitable, you have to do the work, but the awakening is the thing, then you are living in a new world. It may plateau from time to time, there is a inner knowing, a desire to seek the truth”.
Awakening NOW demonstrates the growing phenomenon that is those who are experiencing their own spiritual awakening - there seems on this planet to be a growing number of individuals who are in this state.
Is this an accurate perception or has there always been this many on the planet and through new techniques of communication we have been becoming more aware of it? Awakening NOW explores but part of this phenomenon.
About the Director
Sydney based director Jerel Mani has been an enquirer into spirituality since his childhood. Questioning his own family's religious beliefs and how relevant they were to his life, Then going on to explore alternative religions on a very personal journey. Artist and a musician, he has enjoyed expressing himself in many different mediums.
From traditional oil painting and sculpture to electronic design and 3d animation. His earlier creative employment is as varied as his spiritual exploration. From sign making to prop building and set design to computer graphics on the Quantel Paintbox at all of the television stations and major production houses in Sydney, Australia.
He founded Mish Mash Multimedia a specialty broadcast production facility in 1995. Creating television content such as advertising, station idents and short films. Specializing in motion graphics, multimedia design, special effects and 2D & 3D animation.
In music he has written many catchy songs in broad range of diverse styles from dance to phoke (that's “pop” and “folk”). A prolific musician he has also penned a number of jingles and commercial music for film and television. Exploring in his own time more ambient meditative scores.
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