One of my very favorite movies is Groundhog Day — and it’s hard to think of a more creative and funny look at the spiritual development process. The movie’s climax focuses on the growth of the relationship between Phil (Bill Murray) and Rita (Andie McDowell) into self-expressed love, a scene which in which Phil creates a sculpture in ice of Rita’s face.
Rita: “I”m getting cold… how long do I have to sit here? … Come on, Phil, I’m freezing!”
Phil turns the sculpture to show her her own face.
Phil: “Let me turn it to the light.”
Rita: “It’s amazing. It’s beautiful. How did you do that?”
Phil: ”I know your face so well I could have done it with my eyes closed.”
Rita: “It’s lovely. I don’t know what to say.”
Phil: “I do. No matter what happens tomorrow or the rest of my life, I’m happy now, because I love you.”
Rita: “I love you too.”
They kiss, and then Phil’s entrapment in the movie’s samsara plot is ended.
The scene gorgeously illustrates the principles of self-immanence (or Homophilia) and self-transcendence (or Heterophilia) at play. Phil’s desire for Rita (self-transcendence) shows up as his creative artistry with the sculptor’s tools. His love for Rita creates a beautiful likeness, and his explanation that he knows her face so well he could have done it with his eyes closed, shows the way in which he woos her by blurring the distinction between her face and his knowledge and creative power. She is won over through homophilia, appearing in this case not as attraction to a person of the same sex but as an image of her own face. Her self-love is transformed joyously into love for the other. Her love finally allows Phil to accept himself, the one thing that he had previously lacked.
Phil needed heterophilia to turn inward; Rita needed homophilia to turn outward.
These are the Two Directions of Love. Be understanding this simple distinction, we gain a profound insight into the root principles of life and love.
Happy Groundhog Day!
Note: You can find Joe Perez's new writings on WE Spirituality.