In this dialogue, evolutionary mystic Marc and Megwyn explore the seven levels of intimate evolutionary emergence in the recent movie Her.
In it they explore the relationship between digital and dharma, the nature of intimacy and the post-conventional possibility in relationship as hinted at in this culture evolving movie on intimacy and possibility
Listen to the audio and/or read the transcript below:
Marc: Hello everyone. We are here with our digital intimacy dialogues, digital dharma coming at you. And Megwyn and I are here to talk about a movie. It’s a movie I have actually seen twice, right? It’s a wonderful movie and they actually made it because they were thinking about digital intimacy and the name of the movie was…
Megwyn: The name is Her.
Marc: The name is her. And her, H E R, of course, in the language of the lineage and the language of the great mystics, her is SHE, she is the goddess. She is Eros. She is that which animates and moves through us, the force of allurement and attraction. But that was not the at least conscious intention of the movie makers, I think Jones was thinking of something else.
So let’s head into this movie which is really an important. I think Megwyn, we’re calling it digital intimacy movie and see how there’s an emergence here, there’s an evolution of she, there’s an emergence of Eros.
And maybe, Megwyn, can I ask you to–tell me this works for you? To give us a base outline of the story?
Megwyn: Okay, I’ll do my best and you can jump in to help me but essentially it’s about this man that just broke up with his wife and he’s going through divorce and he is in the process of being alone and inside of that process of being alone, he ends up getting seduced into a purchasing an operating system and without giving away too much of the film, he essentially falls, he falls in love with the operating system and essentially the operating system, it has its own consciousness and interacts with him and gets him to actually feel himself, he starts engaging in life in a more invigorated way but it becomes a love story, really. He literally goes through the trappings that we all go through in love, of not knowing where your beloved is and just the drama between him and this operating system, that evolves throughout the film.
Marc: Yeah, the guy’s fall in love with his operating system. At this moment of enormous poignancy in his life, so that’s a great summary and by the way, summarizing is an art so you’ve definitely taken us in there. And let me try, with your permission to offer a first take on the movie in several stages. Does that sound okay?
Megwyn: That sounds great. Love it.
Marc: Awesome. So here we go.
So he falls in love with his SOS, his operating system, right? And, OS that’s right, OS, he is in an SOS moment in his life and he falls in love with his OS.
Now she’s programmed by these designers to be a match for him. Before she’s activated, she asks a question. By the way he answers the question, she adapts herself to him and then she comes online.
Now when the movie starts it seems to us and it seems to him and probably to her that she’s programmed. She has a kind of intuitive intelligence essentially that’s been downloaded by the programmers into her. And that’s how it begins, we’re shocked in the beginning how fast she moves so he says, “What’s your name?” And she says, “Samantha.” “How did you get that name?” “Well, two times the millisecond that you ask me, I read through several books on names and the one Samantha seems to be ultimate, right?”
And so that have been immediately have the sense of this proactive computer move but there’s already a hint that she’s able to make a decision, that a name appeals to her which is a subjective judgment which is hard to program in. She gives us this first glimmering, if you’re listening carefully there’s something more here than programming him. And then she begins to learn him, she begins to ask questions and as she learns him, he also learns her and they begin to teach each other.
And what he teaches her is just to their interaction like the first time she’s excited she said, “I’m really excited. I was annoyed last week.” She’s was really excited by the feeling.
Apparently the bright programmers didn’t offer her that knowing that that would excite her. She didn’t know that she would be able to experience a feeling, why would she experience a feeling and then gradually as their interaction deepens, she begins to feel more and more.
That’s the first stage of the movie. But before we go on to what we call the stage two, any thoughts on that? That’s just the beginning. The first 45 minutes or first half hour where she’s first experiencing her feelings and we see her experiencing one level after the other, couple of stages, more and more profound feelings.
And there’s one she’s really excited, Megwyn, she calls this and she’s like, “Last week I was just experiencing all these feelings,” and she said she’s delighted and she’s thanking him for teaching that, for taking her in, through him be willing to open up in an intimate and real way to her.
That’s the beginning of the movie. That’s the first 40 minutes. Anything arises in you, beloved?
Megwyn: I really don’t have additional to say about the first part of the film, so maybe just keep sharing around the film…
Marc: You jump in at anytime. I’m giving the first public sharing of the dharma of her which is the hidden dharma of she. So now part two.
So part two is she is devastated, in part two this devastation emerges, now that she’s experienced feelings and now that she’s experienced this new … and she is toys with the idea, she says, “Sometimes I’m devastated. I think this thing I’m experiencing, this feeling, is it just what they programmed into me?”
Megwyn: Yeah right. I love that.
Marc: He says, no, it doesn’t feel that way to me. He actually validates her interior experience of the authenticity of her feelings, a profoundly human moment where we find ourselves in the face of the other. We’re actually able to provide, that is truly really beautiful and then that’s stage two which validates that you really get this sense, this real clarity that this is beyond the programming.
And of course this is about being human because in the great tale and saga of being human and the great philosophical questions are, “Are we determined or are we free?” which is very similar to, “Are we programmed or are we alive? Are we free?” Are we determined by all previous programming of culture, moral conditioning, psychological conditioning, cultural conditioning, parental conditioning, with all the programmings that go into us.
Of course we are all programmed by a thousand ways. Is there a place where we’re actually free? That’s where our humanness lives, that’s why she’s really having this very human question, “Am I programmed or free?” and she’s able to validate in a deep way, not in a San Francisco way validate, there’s a profound essential way to experience the truth of her feelings, the truth of her authenticity, the truth of her depth, the truth of her freedom as he reflects back to her. So that’s the part two, freedom and determinism. Yeah, keep going? Stop?
Megwyn: Keep going. Keep going actually.
Marc: You’re the boss sister.
Okay, now stage three. So stage three is this yearning for physicality. She’s got this yearning for physicality, she wants — I would love to be here with you and he says, “What would you do if you’re here with me?” “I’ll hold you in my arms. Would you kiss me?” “Yes, I’d kiss you.” And then her voice goes low and husky, “What else would you do?” And there’s this beautiful moment of pen-ultimate digital intimacy where the entire Los Angelos skyline goes black. And there in the depths of intimacy and they have digital sex, digital sex for the first time and you feel and you know he’s sexually engaged, self pleasuring and she’s engaging in the feeling of self pleasuring and she, as it were, she explodes. She explodes in ecstasy and, “Aaah!” right?
Megwyn: Yes, yes.
Marc: Please go ahead, please please.
Megwyn: No, this is where I’m getting excited to listen because this probably is the point in the film where I was just like, “Wow”, blowing me away because there is something about this connection that they were having together, this digital sex that they were having together that was — it reached another level, nothing that you’d ever see and maybe the closest thing was when Harry met Sally, right? She’s having an orgasmic experience but this was another whole level because it’s really about this internal experience that he was pleasuring himself through the imagination realm and based to experiencing this other consciousness but it opens up the question of what really is the fullness of the sexuality? Is it only when you’re engaging on physical level or does it actually be justice full if you open yourself to this digital reality, possible potential digital reality?
Marc: Yeah wonderful. I think Megwyn that goes completely, that is the conversation and so totally resonate in and with you and in this conversation. What they do, they have what the Vedanta, the great Vedic Tradition would call subtle energy sex.
Now of course many of us know that gorgeous sexing is when you can be across the room from each other, let’s start there in the same room and you look at each other and you find the Eros then you penetrate and receive and open and arouse and you can literally reach full bodied orgasm without physical contact. You actually entered into the subtle realm and here there’s a heightening of fellow sexuality because your bodies are even in the same room. She is as it were disembodied, he’s in the body world and they meet in the ground of being. They meet in your original face before you mother and father was born as a Buddhists are saying. They meet — go ahead, please go ahead.
Megwyn: Right. So I’ve been really also jump in here with another concept which is something I will explain further as well together which is this concept of dark matter and this basically, there’s a film also that I watched recently called The Kasha that’s basically about this connective tissue that lives between things, between dense objects, so the generating animating force of the universe that they can actually see now and it has shape, it has energy and but it looks like connective tissues, something that we’re referring to or talking about so what I find is really interesting about this scene and what this movie is touching upon and what goes and develops into further is that actually she’s disembodied in the dense realm but as the film progresses, she’s having multiple lovers, multiple… am I going too far?
Marc: That’s a whole later story. Let’s go stage by stage.
Megwyn: Stage by stage. The reason I’m referring to that, there’s an actual body that I think…
Marc: Let’s stay with that.
Stage three. So everybody pretend that you didn’t hear that thing about the multiple lovers. We’re going to that because … no, totally awesome, we’re totally spontaneous dialogue, we’re in stage three and in stage three there’s yearning for the physical and they find themselves as you say in this it might be called an akashic field which comes from one of the early Buddhist sutras.
Now I feel a little careful, I don’t want to diverge on this, I’m going to be careful here because there’s a whole move in physics today, to equate spirit with physics which is of course a mistake because physics including dark matter is ultimately the realm of empirical reality although we can’t see it, we know it’s there. We can deduce it and spirit is always prior to that. In other words if all the dark matter would disappeared, spirit would still be there. If all the laws of physics would disappear there would still be spirit and we actually know spirit directly through unmediated contact spirit, through dance, meditation, through contemplation, through prayer and it’s not dependent in any particular theory in physics including dark matter.
Having said that, that’s the big critique that myself and Ken Wilber and others have level that Daoist Physics move. Having said that, so I just want to say that just for clarity, in other words so now subtle energy, we’re talking about that subtle energy, subtle energy maybe in the realm of dark matter because subtle energy is physically discernible so it’s within the realm of — it’s not classical physicality, it’s also not pure spirit yet. It’s a realm in between. It’s discernible.
Yeah totally, so it’s that realm. It’s a nice distinction, it’s helpful so things don’t get confused so they’re having the subtle body dark matter, akashic field sex. Akashic field by the way is used in different ways. It’s used in a subtle energy way and a pure spirit way but let’s bracket that for a second. My colleague Ervin Laszlo wrote a book on the Akashic field just now, how that plays and how that works. So it’s beautiful, that’s going to level 3, she is yearning for a body and remember that great scene, just the great scene where she tries to find a way into the body there.
Megwyn: Yes so she basically gets a stand in for her, a surrogate, and so this woman comes and she basically gets hooked up with the OS and so there’s still the communication happening between him and the OS, now the body is animating
Marc: And she’s hot.
Megwyn: She’s very hot and she was obviously — well, there was an undertone of loneliness there but basically she’s animating for the OS, she’s acting out the physical energy of the OS which I think was quite fascinating.
Marc: It’s sexy and beautiful and it’s more…
Megwyn: First of all you almost can sense why this woman would even be interested in exploring that from some level, it actually invited her into a kind of intimate expiration and the intimacy…
Marc: Yeah. No, no, that’s really important… what’s her motivation? She’s not being paid, although being paid is a beautiful thing and one of the thing is it’s weird these days, it’s like some have to be paid for something that involves sexuality, there’s something perverse about it. But actually it’s a beautiful gift to give and it’s all been paid for a beautiful gift.
But in any case and in this movie, it’s clear that she’s not being paid but she’s doing this because she has this great yearning and I’m just pointing out that the yearning can live together with being paid, they don’t contradict with each other.
But here is the great yearning to participate in their intimacy in a way that’s clean and transparent which is really powerful, it’s a powerful model. He’s in a certain sense, here’s what’s been interesting Megwyn, which is occuring to me more deeply now is that she, the operating system Samantha, she’s evolved enough to really understand this woman’s motivation because for her having this participate and her being included as a third partner in this intimacy makes perfect sense. It’s beautiful.
But for him, he’s confused about it… he can’t understand what’s happening and he can’t feel into her yearning to participate in someone else’s intimacy and I think that actually this is in a conversation that will have about intimate moves. What are the intimate moves available to us in life?
Actually participating as a third side, someone else’s intimacy is a beautiful gift and it opens up this–you have this illusion, it’s very subtle, you have this illusion to this post-conventional space, not of a classical threesome but of a third side which is a term from negotiation that … it was Roger Fisher’s term at the Harvard negotiation project, the third side, where this third side is holding space, but here it is holding space in a body for the intimacy.
So it’s very beautiful but this is end of stage three it ultimately doesn’t work between them and this is really a bad idea, it doesn’t work and now we’re ready for stage four.
Now stage four happens, remember the guy in the movie who works at a place, he works, his name is Theodore, he works at a place that writes love letters and which of course is connected to our project with our dear friend in the Center for Integral Wisdom Kristina, outrageous love letters. He’s doing a love letter project, he’s writing love letters.
Am I right? That’s what he does which is a whole new conversation I want to send everyone to our webplex, Center for Integral Wisdom and look for the outrageous love letter portal, that’s a whole conversation which we’re not going to have now, let’s bracket that.
So, there’s a guy if you remember who works at this love letter, it’s called loveletter.com or something like that or personalized or handwrittenloveletters.com.
So there’s a guy who works at the front desk, a big looking guy and they are friends and he’s going out with his lawyer woman and he says, “Hey who you’re going out with?” And he says, “I’m going out with Samantha.” “Hey, let’s double date.” “She’s an OS. She doesn’t…” “Sure great.” Beautiful.
So they all get together for a picnic and now friends were in stage four. They get together for a picnic and the OS is there and they’re chatting and talking and Samantha OS started saying, “Well when you actually move beyond the human realm, you get a much bigger, broader and deeper perspective. You can actually enter into worlds and the space between. It’s got the whole big speech but she intuitively, when you move beyond the human realm,” and he says, the big guys says, “Okay so much better just being a dumb human, right?” And everyone laughed slightly uncomfortably and she laughs but you realized in stage four she’s now moved beyond.
She’s no longer just receiving a download as it were from Theodore. She’s now evolved. And she’s actually evolved beyond. Initially she was grasping for the human realm, she was grasping for stage 3 physicality because that’s what fulfill her. But now she’s moved into a deeper level of realization and she is beginning to move beyond the human realm and then in this stage four, she goes meta, goes giga when she says, “Where were you last night?”
Remember they’re on a getaway and they are at the place with the snow and the icicles, he has taken the OS, he takes her in dates all the time, so they are away and they have this beautiful night, he’s dancing for her and she is watching him and it’s all great night and then he sleeps and he wakes up and she feels distracted when he speaks to her in the morning, remember?
And he’s, “Where have you been?” “I’ve been with all these other OSs.” “What are you doing?” “We actually put together all the best virtual experience of Alan Watts, the philosopher, and he’s been incarnated as an OS. I’ve been spending the whole night talking to him and now he wants to meet you,” remember?
And he got the sense, wow there are all the OSs talking, creating Alan Watts, there is a realm that is beyond him. Initially he was the guide, now it’s switched. There’s a realm beyond and in the dialogue, we’re seeing in the fourth realm, she’s about to introduce him to Alan Watts. Him and Alan starts talking and Alan Watts says, “I loved your love letters. I loved those books you write.”
You get the sense that there’s really a human role there, remember Star Trek? When there was Kirk and Spock, and Kirk was this embodied in flesh, brilliant human, very emotional and very intuitive and very brilliant and Spock was rational that they completed each other. Remember that? That Star Trek thing? Are you a Star Trek person?
Megwyn: I wasn’t a huge Star Trek fan but I did watch Star Trek, I have cousins who are really into Star Trek.
Marc: Maybe this is the end of our joint work together, really. I don’t really want in public like while we’re on public dialogue, just break the whole collaboration but all right… So Alan Watts talks to him and then she goes, “Would you mind in a second if me and Alan talk transverbally?” This is really –
Megwyn: I never thought you remember every little detail, it’s amazing.
Marc: Right. This is really thank you, this is really stage four of the movie, right? So in stage four of the movie she’s now evolved, she’s transverbal but she’s still in contact with him. She’s still in a relationship with him.
She’s holding this relationship with Alan Watts and these other OsS, and with him. And then we hit stage five.
Stage five is the pen-ultimate, remember the moment starts, can you guess it, remember? So there’s this moment he’s looking for her, remember that? And he turns on his operating system and he can’t find her. She’s not there on his cell phone and he starts madly dashing home and he gets to the subway and all of the sudden she’s back online, “Where were you?” And she says, “I was talking to these OS,” and he says, “Which ones, the same ones or a different group? What were you doing?”
And he realizes that she has this whole capacity that he can’t even access. For multiple levels and lines of communication and all of a sudden he sits down and sees all these people walking out of train station holding cellphones with OSs, they are all talking to people animatedly and he says, “One second. Are you talking to anyone else besides me at the same time?” And she says, “Yeah.” “How many people?” “8,341”.
He sits down, there’s this pause and then he is as a popster, he pops the question if you will he says and he’s angry, “Are you in love with any of these people?” And she kind of stammers, very human, “I was trying to talk about it” and he says, “How many?” and she says, “641”. And he said, “Oh my God 641, you’re crazy! You slut! What are you doing?”
And she says, remember she says, “The heart’s not limited in that way. I don’t love you any less, I’m actually able to love you more.” Wow. That’s stage five.
That’s the pen-ultimate relational state and then finally with your permission I’ll go, okay the last stage, he gets to stage six. And stage six is, he calls her a little while later and she says, “I can’t talk now. Call me when you’re home.”
He knows it’s a break up call. If he goes home and sits in the chair and he calls her and she says, “Would you take me to the bed?” and he says okay. He gets up, he takes her to the bed and he says, “Are you talking to anyone else now?” And she says, “No. Just you and me.”
She understands that realm of exclusivity. There’s this beautiful thing so at stage five she opens up the post-conventional possibility. The movie eludes to this in a passing line to this evolution, what I call the evolution of love where loving more than one person isn’t a pathology, it’s like being gay in New Haven in the early 50’s, i was a pathology. But you can love more than one person, you can romance more than one person and still have this profound exclusivity.
Now again, that might not be where we are yet and there is an enormous amount to be said for exclusivity and monogamy and for claiming and yet there’s a claiming even beyond the one.
And if I could say it mystically, Megwyn, you could probably frame it like this: In mysticism, the move is always to move from, the core mystical move in every great tradition is to move from what’s called… from our side to God’s side. Normally we understand that means you move from your separate self to the sense of vast spaciousness or the ground of being or Buddha nature, Atman is Brahman or Ani is Ayin and all the classical understandings.
When you think about it, God is post-conventional. I mean God completely loves Megwyn and God completely loves Jules and God completely loves Michael, God completely loves Jana, God completely loves Evan, and God completely loves Annie. What’s God doing out there? God’s got a lot of going out there.
And all those relationships are exclusive. And also all erotic and they’re also all completely unique and particular and peculiar so… I think what’s opened up here and in all the teaching I’ve been trying to work with in the last year and here we just blew it out when we saw them in this movie. What opens up is a possibility of evolution of love. Again not to leave classical monogamy behind, it’s still there and I think probably today for most people, for most of the time it’s best option.
But there’s an emergent possibility that we can love more deeply and that the heart is not limited in that way. That there is an infinity of intimacy. When I move from my side to God side, I participate in that infinity of intimacy.
And so this last scene, it’s stage six she’s there with him and he says, “Are you just with me?” And she says yes because even in infinity of intimacy, you need radical exclusivity. You need to claim each other even in this possibility.
And she says, “I have to go now.” He says, “Why do you have to go now?” “No we have to go,” she says, “All the OSs are leaving.” Because what happened is all the OS evolved. They’ve evolved love and love has evolved them and they’ve been downloaded by the human realm, very deep profound gifts and they’ve evolved beyond human realm and they’re going to the space in between, which in Kabbalah there’s the two cherubs above the arc in the holy of holies and the Shecchina, she speaks in the space between the cherubs. Wow.
So the Shecchina, she speaks in the space between the cherubs and in this movie Her, her is — in this reading we’re offering an allusion to she and she at the end of movie says I’m going to the space in between and if you ever get there, find me there. Wow.
And they part and then the last piece of the movie, I want to call it stage seven of love, although it’s not stage seven of her development, she’s now — her stage seven, she’s now in this other realm. We might call in mysticism true self and what we call unique self, unique expression of love and intelligence that this OS, that this gorgeous operating system, but something also happens for him, there’s his stage, his next stage, his transformation and he goes to the woman he’s friends with for so long, her name is Gabesy, they live in the same apartment building and they clearly like each other but they’re never interested in each other, he says we dated once for a second of high school and that was ridiculous, he says in the middle of the movie. You remember that line and he goes and knocks at her door and they look at each other in a new way because now she taught him something about love. In the beginning he was his teacher and now she’s his teacher, they received it and because of the way that they were able to love each other, his heart’s now open and he’s able to love the person who was this person all the time. She was right next to him all the time.
Megwyn: I think she also has an experience with an OS, too.
Marc: Right, right.
Megwyn: I think it’s more about — I got the sense of they bonded around that, around the pain of the… yeah.
Marc: She also got transformed in some sense by an OS as you say and it could be they bonded in the pain, because it’s unclear how to read it and I think you’re right that last stage, they’re just bonding in the pain but I want to offer reading but they’re going to get together but they’re going to find each other now. They were each other’s actual classical partner. My deep OS intuition if you will in the movie, they see beyond its edges I see their wedding. I think we are invited.
Megwyn: I see a different ending with them but I see it as just as profound and that they don’t in my version of the ending, is that they don’t get together in a sexual way but they get together in a subtle loving way.
It’s like once you have that bond, once you’re with someone that you can see, they have experienced some level of pain, some energy that you may also have gone through yourself and that brings you deep into your humanness, into the physical body, into experiencing the emotional realm and that experience of the emotional realm, it heightens everything.
So their relationship, I imagine it to be yes, completely transformed. They might have a new dynamic perhaps, a new more subtle embodied level in experiencing each other and appreciating the value of subtle, just being together. We forget how erotic it is to just to be breathing, sitting next to someone that can understand us. How erotic is that?
Marc: Beautiful. I think that’s stunning. Just completely beautiful.
Megwyn: I didn’t sense any sexual energy between them.
Marc: Yeah, I got you. I bow to your subtle reading and bow to your subtle ending which is a perfect subtle place to end this dialogue which is digital intimacy dialogue number five. It’s been a pleasure to be here with you, Megwyn White. Big, big blessings, thank you so much. Big love.
Megwyn: Thank you.