Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2013

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Page 40 of 51

FILM Written & Directed by Ted Nicolau Finding Happiness T he film Finding Happiness is a beautiful profile of the Ananda spiritual community, wrapped lightly in the framework of a story. Of primary interest is the character J. Donald Waters, aka Swami Kriyananda, recently deceased founder of the Ananda movement worldwide, as himself. The film is set in the context of a skeptical investigative reporter's visit to Ananda Village in Northern California's Gold Country. There the reporter (Juliet Palmer, played by Elisabeth Rohm) discovers the benefits of living in a spiritual community. And this may be the most important element in giving the film a wider audience: the idea of living in community. It's difficult to know what really happens inside a community unless you live there, but listening to residents' accounts of their lives (and bearing in mind the film is a commercial of sorts), it sounds idyllic. Goats frolic, tech geeks geek, doctors heal and teachers teach. Through it all the community works together to feed themselves and resolve their issues, as they have since the founding in 1967, and especially following a fire that nearly wiped them out less than 10 years later. It's not surprising to learn the original land was purchased along with Buddhist teacher Richard Baker, but who knew poets Alan Ginsburg and Gary Snyder were part of the deal? Just as the founding of the community mixed spiritual with non, the casting of the film is mixed. The premise is of a fictional reporter assigned to investigate Ananda Village by her fictional boss (John M. Jackson). But who else is hired help? The film's homepage indicates her guide, David, is an actor as well, but Swami Kriyananda and Paramahansa Yogananda are also listed as cast members. It seems as if the rest of the "actors" must be community members representing themselves, but ultimately it's unclear, a bit disconcerting. No matter, the film's message remains strong. One of Kriyananda hoped to "provide the world an example of living harmoniously," believing that "a small intentional community will change the face of the world." Whether or not Ananda Village achieves all of his lofty goals, it is certainly inspirational and for some, a way of finding happiness. —Abigail Lewis Written & Directed by Jeremy Seifert GMO OMG T here's nothing like kids to make you pay attention to health—both theirs and your own. After all, if something happens to you, who will look out for them? So after Jeremy Seifert and his wife gave birth to their third child, he began investigating GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. Last year mandatory GMO labeling was narrowly voted down on the California ballot, largely due to $45 million in deceptive advertising by the biotech industry. But labeling is mandatory in 60 countries, so why so much resistance here? Just the fact that Monsanto threatens to sue any state that demands labeling should make you curious. So it's up to us, the consumers, to vote with our wallets at the markets. Thanks to resources such as this thoughtful film being released in September, we can at least make an intelligent choice to avoid GMOs, because you have to know where they're hiding; unlike sugar, preservatives and a host of other questionable ingredients, it's not written anywhere! A few places they lurk: 85% of all corn grown in the United States, 91% of soy (nonorganic tofu is not a healthy choice), 90% of sugar beets and 89% of cotton (the supposedly natural fiber). This means it's in everything from ketchup to animal feed, and even in feed given to wild trout, so don't think you're 'off the hook' with that. Some farmers argue we need GMOs to feed the world, but tests over 30 years by the Rodale Institute say the yield is the same. In times of adverse conditions, organic crops actually fare better. GM foods suppress the immune system, have diminished nutritional value and can create allergies. In addition, animal testing in France indicates that after half a lifetime—35–40 years in a human—horrific mammary tumors form (the only part of the film I wouldn't want a small child to see), which might explain the surge in breast cancers. GMOs also damage the liver and kidneys and cause hormonal imbalance. And if you're squirming about the animal testing? Know that we humans are the primary lab rats in this grand American food experiment. There is a ton more useful information in this well-done, nonpreachy film that somehow manages to be charming in spite of its message, so please do us all—especially the kids—a favor and go see it (opens in LA 9/20). —AL august / september 2013 41

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