The Buddha, Ripley & the Alien
The movie, the Alien, in three parts, is the most successful 20th century reprise of the perennial story about struggle between the good (i.e. me, sameness) and the bad (i.e. not-me, otherness) and how to survive contact.
For Buddha read: One’s innate ‘how to survive the other’* problem solving ability.
For Ripley read: Surface consciousness.
For the Alien read: the terrifying ‘Other’, namely raw nature, i.e. ‘Nature too and claw’.
Phase 1 (Movie 1)
The alien (i.e. the terrifying other) is (only) encountered (when) in another ‘murky’ reality.* It is brought back the home reality and begins to wreak havoc, for it is different, uncontrolled and all devouring.
Ripley (calling upon the Buddha within, i.e. her problem solving algorithm) does what comes naturally. She tries to kill it, but can’t. She tries to lock it up, but can’t. She does not try to communicate with it. She flies away, but must return. All her mates get eaten or stuffed.
Phase 2 (Movie 3)
Ripley returns (has matured) and is treated by the new crew as an alien, and which she has become. She begins to realise that the alien lives within her. The alien grows there because of the intense interaction with and concentration on him (courtesy of the Buddha, i.e. her problem solving function within). She begins to understand/ empathise with the alien and has, therefore, nothing to fear from it. The alien recognises her (as same) and leaves her be.
Since she is female, however, she cannot accept becoming an alien.* She realises that to return home would mean introducing the alien (her difference) and possibly death (possibly death AND resurrection) to all others. Moreover as an alien (or transmitting alien instructions) herself, she cannot return home (to sameness), for she would be treated as an alien (and destroyed). She activates her Christ function, namely the act of self-sacrifice that is intended to cleanse all that is alien (read: sin) from the world, and kills herself.
In ancient India, the Good, i.e. the Brahman/atman (or God to Christians) was defined as ‘the one without an other’. He emerged because of hunger and fear.
* …The Buddha’s ‘other’, i.e. his alien, was Samsara, more specifically death ≈ mata (become ‘Mara the Evil One.’)
In Christian mythology the Good (≈ same) is represented by Christ and the Bad (≈ different) is represented by Satan. Initially, as in the Adam and Eve story, the Good and the Bad appear outside. Later with Paul, then Augustine, the Good (Christ) and the bad (Satan ≈ Original Sin) were declared to within, though not by all Christians. The bad/alien, according to Augustine, was transmitted to every child in the sperm of the father. When Augustine declared Satan to be within (at birth, i.e. as Original Sin) and only the priest as local executor of Christ’s will could banish him, Christianity effectively became a protection racket, the most successful in history.
The actual, i.e. historical Jesus story is probably a bit of Jewish fiction on the Christ (Dionysus) death and resurrection myth. Likewise the biography of the Sakya Buddha.
* Later understood as the unconscious.
Dr. Faustus’ (Goethe’s) alien was ‘the Spirit of the deep’, namely Mephistophela (note the gender) called up from the deep, dark other reality, i.e. the sub-conscious. Dracula on the other hand, another take on the alien, emerges only at night to wreak havoc.
As happened to Ulysses’ comrades, another take on the perennial story.
The Christian ‘Satan within’ phase, i.e. individuation and difference have appeared. Ripley is ‘waking up’ to the architecture of reality.
Between the 5th and the 10th centuries AD (the Age of the Puranas) the Buddha disappeared from India. He was replaced by the deity Ganesh (Vinayaka), the supreme problem solver. Not only could Ganesh solve all problems, not just suffering, as tricks playing obese teenager he was more sympathetic, and because of his elephant’s head (i.e. a clever theriomorphism trick) offered easier access to one’s own problem solving routine operating below consciousness.
* By contrast, males have evolved to function at best as aliens, that is to say, as communicators of difference, hence as random events.
Buddhist legend has it that during the early phase of the Sakya’s mission many monks committed suicide.
He promptly forbade suicide since he believed that it was not a solution to the problem, and bad publicity too.
Jesus’ voluntary suicide was a non-logic solution, though the gory details of his exit and alleged ‘rise and rise’ make for sensational headlines and great publicity.
Who failed to solve the Problem with the Alien
Ripley failed when she killed herself. Dr. Faustus failed since he had to be rescued by angels.
The Great religions all deal with this, in fact their sole problem. All failed. They simply transferred the problem to a next life, i.e. heaven, where otherness (i.e. the world, consequently ‘sin’) is absent. At least the Hindus promised a return to this life and another go at the ‘Beat the Alien’ game.
However, in failing and by inventing an easy way out the Great Religions gave hope and comfort to the zillions of humans who are also failing and seeking an easy way out (i.e. of their suffering).
Who solves the problem?
The ‘smart’, ordinary everyday human living in the world solves the problem by acting spontaneously and naturally. He or she (eventually) realises:
1. that the ‘other’, both without and within, is an integral part of the experience of living, an experience that is truly awesome and not to be missed or escaped from.
2. that the ‘other’ is necessary for survival, since it provides difference (even food), hence the chance to grow, change and evolve.
3. that accommodation, i.e. ‘live and let live’ is ‘smart’. The same and the ‘other’ both belong in this or any other world and have equal rights. The common human accepts otherness (i.e. sin) both without and within, learns to manage it and survives to enjoy this wonderful universe.
The notion of eliminating ‘otherness’ (i.e. that which is alien) from the world is as stupid as the (Sakya Buddha’s) notion of eliminating suffering from the world. To the naïve and the suffering that sounds great, and which is why the lose out against the alien and are fobbed off with promises of eternal life in a Kingdom of Heaven.
The ‘smart’ ones get the earth, at least for a while!