May 16, 2016

82 Ways to Live Like Alejandro Jodorowsky

Here's how we can take Jodorowsky's keys to being 'a morally sound human being' and apply them to making film.

In his autobiography The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky: The Creator of El Topo, the legendary director recalls the time in his life when he met Reyna d’Assia, daughter of the Russian mystic George Gurdjieff. The encounter took place in Mexico City, directly following a screening of the groundbreaking experimental film with which his memoir shares a name, El Topo. Of course, this being the tail end of the 1960's, they ended up in bed with each other a few hours later. 

A suggestive screen-cap from Jodorowsky's 'The Holy Mountain.'

The two soon began a friendship that would end up influencing Jodorowsky's work ethic as much as it did his spirituality. Reyna's father was a major proponent self-development, claiming that most humans do not possess a unified mind-body consciousness and thus live their lives in a state of hypnotic "waking sleep", but that it is possible to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential.  Interestingly enough in comparison to other show-biz terms, Gurdjieff called the series of steps one made to achieve this transcendence "The Work" or "The Method".

Jodorowsky describes the keys to the method as he heard them from Reyna, who learned them from her father, in what Dangerous Minds is calling the '82 Commandments of Alejandro Jodorowsky.' Given that these steps were created by a mystic and not a mogul, we were surprised to see just how many relate to the film industry and the discipline of DIY filmmaking itself. We've highlighted a few specific ideologies that stood out to us from a filmmaker's perspective, so that you might be inspired to adopt them for your own work. As Reyna d’Assia allegedly said before she launched into this list, "To be strong in the great things, we must also be strong in the small ones."

  1. Ground your attention on yourself. Be conscious at every moment of what you are thinking, sensing, feeling, desiring, and doing.
  2. Always finish what you have begun.
  3. Whatever you are doing, do it as well as possible.
  4. Do not become attached to anything that can destroy you in the course of time.
  5. Develop your generosity ‒ but secretly.
  6. Treat everyone as if he or she was a close relative.
  7. Organize what you have disorganized.
  8. Learn to receive and give thanks for every gift.
  9. Stop defining yourself.
  10. Do not lie or steal, for you lie to yourself and steal from yourself.
  11. Help your neighbor, but do not make him dependent.
  12. Do not encourage others to imitate you.
  13. Make work plans and accomplish them.
  14. Do not take up too much space.
  15. Make no useless movements or sounds.
  16. If you lack faith, pretend to have it.
  17. Do not allow yourself to be impressed by strong personalities.
  18. Do not regard anyone or anything as your possession.
  19. Share fairly.
  20. Do not seduce.
    'El Topo'
  21. Sleep and eat only as much as necessary.
  22. Do not speak of your personal problems.
  23. Do not express judgment or criticism when you are ignorant of most of the factors involved.
  24. Do not establish useless friendships.
  25. Do not follow fashions.
  26. Do not sell yourself.
  27. Respect contracts you have signed.
  28. Be on time.
  29. Never envy the luck or success of anyone.
  30. Say no more than necessary.
  31. Do not think of the profits your work will engender.
  32. Never threaten anyone.
  33. Keep your promises.
  34. In any discussion, put yourself in the other person’s place.
  35. Admit that someone else may be superior to you.
  36. Do not eliminate, but transmute.
  37. Conquer your fears, for each of them represents a camouflaged desire.
  38. Help others to help themselves.
  39. Conquer your aversions and come closer to those who inspire rejection in you.
  40. Do not react to what others say about you, whether praise or blame.
  41. Transform your pride into dignity.
    'The Holy Mountain'
  42. Transform your anger into creativity.
  43. Transform your greed into respect for beauty.
  44. Transform your envy into admiration for the values of the other.
  45. Transform your hate into charity.
  46. Neither praise nor insult yourself.
  47. Regard what does not belong to you as if it did belong to you.
  48. Do not complain.
  49. Develop your imagination.
  50. Never give orders to gain the satisfaction of being obeyed.
  51. Pay for services performed for you.
  52. Do not proselytize your work or ideas.
  53. Do not try to make others feel for you emotions such as pity, admiration, sympathy, or complicity.
  54. Do not try to distinguish yourself by your appearance.
  55. Never contradict; instead, be silent.
  56. Do not contract debts; acquire and pay immediately.
  57. If you offend someone, ask his or her pardon; if you have offended a person publicly, apologize publicly.
  58. When you realize you have said something that is mistaken, do not persist in error through pride; instead, immediately retract it.
  59. Never defend your old ideas simply because you are the one who expressed them.
  60. Do not keep useless objects.
  61. Do not adorn yourself with exotic ideas.
    'The Holy Mountain'
  62. Do not have your photograph taken with famous people.
  63. Justify yourself to no one, and keep your own counsel.
  64. Never define yourself by what you possess.
  65. Never speak of yourself without considering that you might change.
  66. Accept that nothing belongs to you.
  67. When someone asks your opinion about something or someone, speak only of his or her qualities.
  68. When you become ill, regard your illness as your teacher, not as something to be hated.
  69. Look directly, and do not hide yourself.
  70. Do not forget your dead, but accord them a limited place and do not allow them to invade your life.
  71. Wherever you live, always find a space that you devote to the sacred.
  72. When you perform a service, make your effort inconspicuous.
  73. If you decide to work to help others, do it with pleasure.
  74. If you are hesitating between doing and not doing, take the risk of doing.
  75. Do not try to be everything to your spouse; accept that there are things that you cannot give him or her but which others can.
  76. When someone is speaking to an interested audience, do not contradict that person and steal his or her audience.
  77. Live on money you have earned.
  78. Never brag about amorous adventures.
  79. Never glorify your weaknesses.
  80. Never visit someone only to pass the time.
  81. Obtain things in order to share them.
  82. If you are meditating and a devil appears, make the devil meditate too.

There's a lot of gold here and a lot that may be hard to keep mindful of, but it's worth acknowledging that filmmaking is not only its own discipline, but takes discipline to achieve. What's important is finding a philosophy for yourself that will keep you focused on 'The Work.' What's your work philosophy? Do any of Jodorowsky's "commandments" resonate with you? Share in the comments.      

Your Comment

8 Comments

Words of wisdom from a brilliant mind.

May 16, 2016 at 7:25PM

31
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Mark Angelil
Film Maker/Graphic Designer
147

I notice many many parallels with the yogasutras (yoga philosophy).
Point 31 (Do not think of the profits your work will engender.) is the definition of karma yoga.
9 is considered important to find your true self as you are not your job, not your grade, not your role in the family, etc because you can't truely be what can be taken away.

May 17, 2016 at 7:26AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8518

Great article, so valuable. Thanks Jon! I love the little, obscure gems like "Do not have your photograph taken with famous people." which I feel indicate how our actions and well-being are in a constant cycle of cause and effect. We all need to be delicate with how we value ourselves, and that advice draws attention to that.

May 17, 2016 at 2:51PM

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Seth Iliff
Director, Cinematographer
91

I like what he saids, many of his words remine me to teachings of Jesus and Buda

May 17, 2016 at 3:48PM

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Alvaro O. De La Quintana Salas
Communicator, Film Maker, Director, Cinematographer
74

"If you are meditating and a devil appears, make the devil meditate too."

This could be read as kind of a gorgeously open take on dealing with mental illness. I'm into it. #ComeMediateWithMeDevils

May 17, 2016 at 5:59PM

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chris allight
Writer/Editor
132

Thank you

May 18, 2016 at 9:43AM

0
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Adore and agree. Clarity in motion creates beauty in life. <3

June 13, 2016 at 2:56PM

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Without the "why", most of this is just BS slave morality based on nothing.

May 28, 2017 at 6:14PM, Edited May 28, 6:15PM

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