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/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 1
34 / A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 1
he story reads like an
inspiring Hollywood
screenplay... but it re-
ally happened... and
it's still happening!
Tom Shadyac made a fortune
in Hollywood by making us
laugh. As director and/or writer
of such blockbuster films as Ace
Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nut-
ty Professor, Liar, Liar, and Bruce
Almighty. But at one point, his
life became... not so funny.
As the result of a bicycling
accident in 2007, Shadyac suf-
fered post-concussion syndrome
(PCS). His symptoms included
an intense and painful reaction
to light and sound (the tools
of his trade, of course), severe
mood swings, a constant ring-
ing in his head, and others. The
worst aspects of this: there is
no successful treatment for PCS,
and it may never go away.
Shadyac tried all of the tra-
ditional medical treatments;
nothing worked. Then he tried
a variety of alternative modali-
ties, including biofeedback and
a hyperbaric oxygen chamber;
again, nothing worked. After
several months of torture, he
welcomed death. "I wasn't sui-
cidal," he recalls, "but I knew I
was done."
Facing death brought an in-
stantaneous sense of clarity and
purpose. "If I was going to die,"
he reflected, "what did I want to
say before I went?" Suddenly, it
all became very simple and very
clear. "I wanted to tell people
what I had come to know."
Shadyac's films had grossed
nearly two billion dollars world-
wide, making him one of Hol-
l y wo o d 's m o s t s u c c e s s f u l
filmmakers. This had brought
Tom all the expected perks --
a 17,000-square foot art-filled
mansion and guest complex in
Pasadena, private jets, exotic
cars... the whole 999 yards.
"What I discovered, though,
when I began to look deeply,
was that the world I was living in
was a lie. The game I had won at,
which I thought would help to
heal the world, might very well
be what was destroying it."
After months of isolation,
with no visitors and virtually no
communication with the outside
world, suddenly, unexpectedly,
Tom's PCS symptoms began to
recede. When he improved to
the point where he could actu-
ally tolerate travel, he decided to
grab a camera and film crew of
four and start a journey to find
the people who had helped him
question the life he had been
leading and try to learn and un-
derstand more. And to spark a
conversation around two chal-
lenging and rarely asked ques-
What's wrong with our
What can we do to fix it?
"I AM"
"Is there a hidden problem
underneath that causes all the
problems of humanity, all the
problems of our world?" Shadyac
asked as he pursued production
of "I AM," the new documentary
feature that resulted from his
exploratory journey.
There is, he determined: it is
the separation of ourselves from
the natural world... and the im-
plications of that separation. All
the result of "the particular sci-
entific story" we've been telling
ourselves for the last three hun-
dred years. The story that grew
out of both Newtonian science
-- that the universe is reliable
and predictable because it is
essentially mechanical, a giant
machine -- and Darwin's Evo-
lution of the Species, survival of
the fittest as a result of compe-
What we know today is these
old assumptions simply are not
true. The new, emergent under-
standing of the nature of the
universe contradicts them. But
they are still the most common
informers of our belief systems
and, therefore, our behavior.
What can we do to fix the
world? Shadyac suggests we
start by fixing ourselves. "Mother
Teresa never thought about solv-
ing hunger or poverty," he re-
counts. "She saw a sick, hungry
person and reached out to help.
What's needed is an awakening
of one's own heart, a personal
transformation. Our outside
world is just a manifestation of
what we're holding inside. So
the work is on ourselves."
In "I AM," Shadyac uses his
wit, warmth, curiosity and mas-
terful storytelling skills to reveal
what we are now discovering
through quantum physics and
other research to be among the
truths of our nature --
The universe is not a ma-
chine and neither are we.
We are all connected to
each other and to everything.
Our #1 organ of intelli-
gence is the heart, not the brain.
Ninety to 95 percent of informa-
tion flows from heart to brain,
not the other way round.
Our consciousness and
emotions impact the physical
world around us.
Science, it seems, is finally
catching up with the ancient,
basic principles of religion and
spirituality. The emerging story is
the old story!
Additionally, in "I AM," Shad-
yac underscores --
Materialism is not a path to
Humankind's basic nature is
cooperation and democracy, not
competition. Darwin knew this
and used the word love numer-
ous times in his book Descent
of Man, while using the phrase
survival of the fittest only twice!
Research demonstrates that we
are hardwired for a compassion-
ate response to the troubles of
Shadyac himself narrates the
film and appears as an interview-
er and good-natured guinea pig
in some of the scientific experi-
ments. He interviews some of
Top Hollywood Director's Brush with Death Results
in Transformational Film that Could Awaken Millions!
Tom Shadyac Presents "I AM"
by David Langer
Tom serves as a guinea pig in experiment with Institute of heartMath's
Rollin McCraty, Ph.D.