Why Avatar the Last Airbender is an amazing source for self development

5 posts in this topic

I know this is an animated children's TV show but don't underestimate it. It has a lot of higher consciousness teachings and lessons that everyone can learn from. I'll divide this post into different parts of the spiral so that it is more organized. 

Stage Green: The main premise of the show is that the protagonist needs to defeat the Fire Lord. The Fire Nation is a nation that developed quite quickly because of the nature of the element they bend fire, and as a result got pushed into their version of the Industrial Revolution (stage orange). However, the Fire Nation also has a lot of blue and red in it and wanted to "spread their prosperity to the other nations" by conquering and manipulating them with violent means. This resulted in the Hundred Year War, colonization of other lands, and ultimately the genocide of the air nomads. Taking all of this into consideration, the show takes a stage green approach to really articulate everything that is wrong with these things throughout the entire series. And the best part is, despite having many heavy themes, they are all portrayed in a kid friendly way while not sugar coating or diminishing the issues. I remember when I first watched this show as a child, I related to the characters and thought it was a really cool action series but when I revisited as an adult, I really understood the concepts much better  

On top of the main themes, other side stage green things the show touches on are animal rights (Season 2 Episode 16: "Appas Lost Days"), sexism (S1E1 "Boy in the Iceberg" S1E4"The Warriors of Kyoshi" S1E18 "The Waterbending Master"), disabilities (this wasn't one episode but was encompassed by entire characters such as Toph and Teo), cultural appropriation (S1 E17 "The Northern Air Temple") and mental health (dealing with loss, dealing with abusive family members, Azula's mental break down etc) just to name a few.

As far as character development goes, all of the characters are well rounded and complex. The show especially excels at representation. The female characters all have their unique form of femininity whether it is Suki, Katara, Ty Lee, or Azula, regardless of whether they are protagonists or antagonists. On top of that each culture in Avatar the Last Airbender are modeled after a different culture in real life. The Fire Nation is based on Japan and it's colonial past. The Earth Kingdom is based on China. The Air Nomads are based on Tibetan Monks. The Water Tribe is based on the Native Americans. The Sun Warriors are based of Mayan Civilization. Those are just to name a few but the show has amazing representation for Asian and Native American cultures. 

But I believe that all of this was done in a excellent way for people in other spirals. The show does introduce stage green concepts without being overly preachy or controversial to the point where it triggers people who aren't green that are likely also watching the show. I believe they can be used to articulate larger conversations and help people understand the point of view of green. I wouldn't say that it would directly push people to green, but it will plant seeds if that makes any sense. 


Stage Yellow: The show does a good job at not demonizing the Fire Nation, despite them being the antagonists of the show. On an individual level, you see a lot of humanization whether it is from the beginning from Prince Zuko and Uncle Iroh and how their redemption arc flourished, or in the end of Princess Azula's mental break down in the final battle. On the collective level the show also brings into question the differentiation between soldier and civilian (S1E10 "Jet") as well as showing the propaganda that is in Fire Nation culture (all of season 3 but especially S3E2 "The Headband" and S3E17 "The Ember Island Player" because they directly deal with ideology and propaganda). 

Also S2 E10 "The Library" calls the audience to question who they're even rooting for. This episode is when the characters walk into Wan Shi Tongs Library, a library infinite knowledge (I think it was supposed to be based on the Library of Alexandria). When Sokka says something along the lines of "with this infinite knowledge, we can defeat the Fire Nation and end the Hundred Year War" the librarian, Wan Shi Tong, depicted by a really creepy owl that gave me nightmares as a kid, gets angry and asks the kids and the audience "do you think you're the first ones in this library who believed that their side of a war is justified?" Firstly this is important because even though the Fire Nation has created chaos for the other nations, it establishes the protagonists position as yet, just another perspective. Additionally, I think it also addresses the desire to use knowledge for our own egotistical desires such as war instead of a healthy system. 

The show also depicts the cycle of war and how victims can become perpetrators of further violence because of the bitterness that comes with loss. This is first introduced in S1 E10 "Jet" where a group of orphaned kids basically beat up innocent Fire Nation civillians as well as wipe out entire settlements because of the pain they felt because their villages were burned to the ground and their parents were killed by the Fire Nation.  It is also delved into on S3 E16 "The Southern Raiders" where Katara tried to hunt down and kill the man who led the raid on her village and killed her mother. While Katara is kind and loving for much of series, this episode delves into other more painful parts of her character. The pain of the loss even caused her to use waterbending techniques that basically went against her regular moral compass. Another episode where this is discussed is in S3 E8 "The Puppet Master" where Hama manipulates (and in some cases tortures) Fire Nation civilians using her powers  because of they way she was hunted and imprisoned earlier in the war as a young woman. 

I also think elements of stage yellow can also be seen by how the show articulates green concepts as I mentioned earlier in this post. It doesn't push anything on it's viewers and lets the audience draw their own conclusions. Because of that the show is seen as progress and if I recall correctly, has faced little to no controversy from anyone really. I also think its smart to depict stage green concepts in a fictional universe to people who aren't at green so there is some personal distance between their egos and the issues and as a result they can see the limitations of their stages in a more objective manner. 

Stage Turquoise: Finally, the show scratches the surface of stage turquoise.  Because the world is based on Asian culture, there are concepts of Eastern philosophy that is scattered throughout the show. Some examples include death being an illusion, separation being an illusion, letting go of egoic and worldly desires, and aligning chakras. The best episode for this is S2 E19 "The Guru." I have seen previous posts on this website talking about it more in depth and I'd recommend people check those out. Its a great way to introduce people, especially children, to concepts regarding nonduality without over complicating anything while still getting the message across. 


But yeah, those are some of my thoughts on this show. I got a lot from it as a kid, especially from the timeless humor that people still make memes about 15 years later, but I got so much more from it as an adult when I got more serious about self-development which is why I wanted to share all of this on this forum. I believe this show is a gem in general, but especially for kids because of the amount of complexities that are depicted in a simplistic manner. 

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I was surprised to see how well this show holds up even today, saw a few clips of it again and got hooked. Uncle Iroh is probably my favorite character. Nice breakdown of the show.

 "If you showed a caveman our technology, he would think it was magic. And if you showed a modern man magic, he would think it was technology." - Outlast (video game)

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Nice post. Good overview through the lens of the spiral. I completely agree, I noticed many of the same patterns. Another great turqouise moment is in the episode "The Swamp" where the man who was bending the vines talks about oneness through the analogy of the banyan tree and of time/death being an illusion.

Here's a link to the clip:


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This show is my childhood, I felt a deep spiritual connection to it at that age. It inspired a lot in me

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle

- Plato

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