The Purple Rose of Cairo

August 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

In Woody Allen’s, “The Purple Rose of Cairo” (1985), the character Cecilia, portrayed by Mia Farrow, seeks to escape her humdrum existence through movie going.  After seeing The Purple Rose of Cairo several times Tom, a character in the movie played by Jeff Daniels, comes out of the screen to meet Cecilia.  After taking him around her town the two return to the cinema and walk through the screen into his film.  As the film progresses Farrow’s character has to make a decision about living in the real world or living in the movie.

The Purple Rose of Cairo is an allegory of our existence that has a dual layer of complexity depending on who you consider yourself to be.  In the character Cecilia we see the ego; and in the movie we see the characters and interweaving stories we create and tell ourselves every day.  As in a movie theatre there is a suspension of belief involved where the ego accepts the reality of the brain’s story of what its life is all about.

Most of us go through our lives never questioning the reality of the stories we tell ourselves.  But in the Purple Rose of Cairo two characters begin a dialogue that may represent the first doubts and questioning an individual may have about who and what they truly are.

On another level of understanding, the light of the theatre’s projector may be seen as the awareness that shines into and illuminates the darkness of the theatre, with the theatre considered to be the human brain.  On this level of understanding the projector is a modification of consciousness that produces the images on the screen of mind.  But as the projector light, it is the Consciousness that is the Observer.

As we meditate our aim is to realize our Identity with the Light.  Now, technically, this can be done in an instant by a simple act of Recognition that we are identical to consciousness.  But in practice most of us have to develop a type of discrimination that removes the suspension of belief that has lead us to believe in the reality of the characters and stories of our lives.  In practice we have to overcome our belief that the stories we tell our self are real before we can know the true Reality.

It may be useful to mention the theatrical concept of the “fourth wall”, the wall Tom walked through to meet Cecilia.  Simply put, the fourth wall is the imaginary wall that separates the on stage actors from the audience, with the other three walls being the ones containing the stage.  To the characters in a play the fourth wall is considered real but to the audience there is no wall.  It is imaginary.  Likewise.  The seemingly insurmountable barrier that appears to block our seeing into reality is also imaginary.  There is no wall separating us from our true nature for we are our true nature.  All we need do is recognize this and walk through, into the Light.


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