The Spiritual Wisdom of Forrest Gump

Roy Biancalana
Relationship Coach and Author

Move over Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth, Ramana Maharshi and Eckhart Tolle. There’s a new spiritual sheriff in town and his name is Forrest Gump.

Recently, as I was watching that wonderful movie, for what had to be about the tenth time, I was dumbfounded by the deep and profound spiritual truths that it teaches, truths I had never seen before. I would encourage you to watch this amazing movie again and see if the following three spiritual principles impact you as much as they have me.

Principle #1: Surrender
The movie, as you’ll recall, opens and closes with a white feather being carried along by the wind. It is not in control, nor does it determine its destiny. The feather is not the doer, the decider or the chooser. It goes with the flow, always surrendering to the unfolding momentum of Life. Forrest Gump’s amazing journey beautifully illustrates the magic and mystery of surrendering to Divine Intelligence. He isn’t the doer; in a very real sense, he’s being done.

This is a particularly powerful message for those of us who see ourselves as the doer and the achiever, the one who is responsible for manifesting and creating our reality. Popular books like The Secret and the channeled teachings of Abraham Hicks (and many others) proclaim that we can create and control our destiny. And on a certain rudimentary level, that is true. The first step on the spiritual journey is to let go of the victim mentality and realize that if you align yourself with the laws of the universe, you can create an amazing life.

However, on a much deeper and more profound level, it’s not true at all. Being the doer is only an appearance on the level of form. It’s an illusion, much like a mirage. Furthermore, if we cling to the illusion of being the doer and become “successful,” it leads to arrogance (“Look what I did!”) and exhaustion (“I have to keep on doing and doing!”). If we are not “successful,” the doer belief produces guilt (“It’s all my fault!”) and despair (“I’m a loser!”)

The reality is that we are a part of the One Life that is unfolding through us and as. Forrest teaches us to simply let go of being the doer and surrender to how life unfolds moment by moment.

Principle #2: Resistance
Another startling thing about Forrest Gump’s life is that he experiences one “bad” thing after another and yet each time they turn out to be “good” things. His crooked spine and bad legs inspire Elvis Presley; when a bunch of boys want to hurt him, he runs away—right through the University of Alabama’s football practice, catching the eye of Bear Bryant; his friend Bubba dies in his arms in Vietnam and he ends up starting the multimillion dollar company Bubba Gump Shrimp.

But although so many “bad” things happen to Forrest, never do we hear him complain, get angry or take any of what’s happening personally. It’s not about him; it’s just what is. He doesn’t blame God, himself or anyone else. He never resists what’s happening. He fully accepts the moment as it is and chooses to live in alignment with it, rather than trying to change it, figure it out or stop it in some way.

Now, in my opinion, it’s unfortunate that Forrest is portrayed as mentally slow and a bit stupid (though in terms of movie-making it was brilliant). It’s easy to think that the only way you can live with such amazing non resistance is if you’re somewhat mentally handicapped. We can miss this incredible wisdom thinking we’re too sophisticated and smart to see and react to life like that. But that’s not true. We can choose, now matter how high of an IQ we have, to not resist whatever occurs, to not complain, whine, get angry and take anything personally.

Does this mean that if you live without resistance that you’ll become a millionaire? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is for sure—you’ll always be at peace. What’s that worth?

Principle #3: Love
Perhaps the most incredible thing about Forrest Gump is the unconditional love he has for Jenny, the little girl he first met on the school bus. The young boy, and then the grown man, loves her without agenda and without requiring anything in return. His love has no “self” in it. He doesn’t “need” her; his love is one-directional.

Time and again she chooses other men and other paths that don’t include him. And you get the sense that with each choice he’s sad—not for himself and for what he’s not getting from her—but for her and the choices she’s making. As their paths cross throughout the movie, he still chooses to direct his love toward her without reservation or complaint.

Think of all the people in your life that you love. Is it pure like that? Is it void and empty of self? Is it unconditional? (Ya, I don’t have very good answers for that one either.) But can we open to the possibility that we can BE love like that? Can we let go of our egoic self, the one that feels the need for attention and affection, the one that requires to be loved in return, the one that says, “I’ll love you IF you love me back”?

Stupid is as stupid does. Are we that stupid?

Author's Bio: 

Roy Biancalana is a certified relationship coach and author of "A Drink with Legs: From Being Hooked to Being Happy--A Spiritual Path to Relationship Bliss." He coaches by phone or in person. For more info., visit his website: