Inception Teaches Us to Dream
Inception is a creative film that is visually stunning and spiritually stimulating. Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a man who infiltrates the minds of powerful individuals to extract their secret ideas. He does this by entering their dreams. In the film, Cobb and his team are hired to do something completely different: introduce an idea into someone’s mind so that it ultimately results in action. This word for this is inception.
To accomplish the task of inception, Cobb leads his team into increasingly deeper dream levels. Eventually, he must risk losing his own sanity and grip on reality by entering a perilous dream state known as “limbo.”
Inception has many spiritual applications. It can be argued that the film is a metaphor for our spiritual lives because it addresses existential questions such as, “What is most important to me?” and “What is real?” Like characters in the film, we may discover the answers to these questions and wake up to reality, or we may wander aimlessly in limbo.
At each dream level, the spiritual metaphors become increasingly profound. There is danger even at the first level. As Cobb teaches Ariadne, his “dream architect” apprentice, how to navigate in the dream world, she finds herself getting menacing looks and even physically threatened from other people in the dream. Cobb explains that any foreign idea is viewed as a threat to the subconscious mind; therefore, it sends trained “dream assassins” to literally attack the visitors in the dream.
This danger in Inception is similar to the spiritual battles that Jesus followers encounter. If we are trying to live for Him, we are perceived as being a threat to Satan’s plans, and he will constantly attempt to thwart us. Another tactic is to place barricades between us and unbelievers so they will not hear the Good News. However, just as Cobb and his team are able to escape the clutches of evil, God is more powerful and always provides us a way out of Satan’s grip.
In a deeper dream level Cobb comes face-to-face with feelings that make his life miserable. He blames himself for his wife’s death, and tries to keep her alive in dreams to alleviate his guilt. Sometimes we do the same thing. We nurse and coddle our guilt until it grows and controls us. Unintentionally, we can become our own worst enemies. Just as Cobb had to forgive himself, we must forgive ourselves to experience the freedom that God has given us though his grace.
At the deepest level of the dream, Cobb almost loses hold on reality. When he and his wife created their own dream and lived as they wanted, he said, “We lost sight of what was real.” Cobb’s wife lost her senses because she selfishly hid her “totem”, which was a compass for what was real in her life.
This can happen so easily in our lives. When we decide to make it about us and live without God we lose sight of what is important, and we miss out on all the blessings God wants to give us.
Just as Cobb looked for signs of truth within his “totem”, if we seek God and look for signs of His presence, we will find the truth.
At one point in the film, before Saito was entrenched deeply within the dream world, he told Cobb, “Don’t you want to take a leap of faith? Or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone!” Ironically, after Saito had grown old living in limbo, Cobb found him and reminded him of his statement. Then he told Saito to take a “leap of faith.” Instead of turning into old, regretful people, Jesus is asking us to put our faith in Him. He will never give up on us; He will pursue us to our deepest depths of despair and wake us from our dream.
When Cobb is awakened and sees his children’s faces for the first time in years, it is like he has entered heaven. This is the ultimate goal for us. Jesus desires an intimate relationship with us, and one day He wants us to be able to look upon his face.
As a film, Inception was entertaining and even fun, if you can follow the twists and turns in the dream sequences. As a spiritual metaphor, Inception teaches us a lot about life. We will face pressures and encounter many trials, but we cannot blindly sleep through them. In the end, what counts is keeping our eyes on our personal totem, Jesus Christ. When we do this, there will be no limit to the dreams we can dream. As Cobb’s friend Eames says, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”
Four out of five stars