Nonduality

presents

"The Matrix" and Nondual Spirituality

edited by Jerry Katz

"Within the prison of your world appears a man who tells you that the
world of painful contradictions, which you have created, is neither
continuous nor permanent and is based on a misapprehension. He pleads
with you to get out of it, by the same way by which you got into it.
You got into it by forgetting what you are and you will get out of it
by knowing yourself as you are."

-
Nisargadatta Maharaj

Important Matrix Links:

http://whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com/

Philosophy and The Matrix: http://whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com/index_phi.html

The Matrix Screenplay

http://www.innerx.net/personal/tsmith/Matrix.html

The Matrix, Philip K. Dick's "Valis," Nag Hammadi, Gnosism, and The Essenes. by Stephen Lindsey

Japanese Animation: A Creative Source for The Matrix

 

Journey to the Source: Decoding Matrix Trilogy, by Dr. Pradheep Chhalliyilis

Even if you have not seen the Matrix movies, you will find this an effective spiritual and mind-healing book. Written by a scientist, it will help you understand “Reality” and lead a stress-free life. Topics which will guide your inner quest include the Self, enlightenment, mystery of the universe, consciousness, God, Soul, purpose of life, nature of the mind. Understand meditation and its real purpose, love, nature of our sensory world, ancient scientific wisdom in mythological stories and scientific interpretation of symbols in myths, the unity of paths in all spiritual traditions, and the path to the Source from which we all descended.

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from the 'follow the white rabbit' scene in Neo's apartment:

Choi: Hallelujah. You're my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ.

Neo: You get caught using that...

Choi: Yeah, I know. This never happened. You don't exist.

Neo: Right.

Choi: Something wrong, man? You look a little whiter than usual.

Neo: My computer, it... You ever have that feeling where you're not sure if you're awake or still dreaming?

Interrogation scene:

Agent Smith (to Neo): We know that you've been contacted by a certain individual, a man who calls himself Morpheus. Now whatever you think you know about this man is irrelevant. He is considered by many authorities to be the most dangerous man alive.

Tim Gerchmez. To me, the greatest value of the movie 'The Matrix' is in introducing nondual spiritual concepts to those who have never encountered such possibilities before.

Bruce Morgen. prose equivalents to "The Matrix."

Tomas Dias de Villegas. there's an interview Vernon Kitabu Turner in this months "What is Enlightenment?" issue that reminds me of the later part of the movie.

Petros. The heroes don't realize that they are merely abandoning one "drama" for another.

Tomas and Petros. I notice in The Matrix, the characters plugged themselves in in the back of the neck -- the visuddha chakra.

Jerry Katz. It is a melange of themes and possibilities, and in that way it is very 'Nonduality Salon'.

Christiana Duranczyk. The movie is like a huge puzzle with borrowed pieces from various sources. It is delightful to hold each piece up to the light and examine it's relevance in this new configuration.

David Hodges. "The Matrix" tends to engage consciousness in many levels and it is easy to imagine that you are living in the Matrix. In the big corporation where I am consulting at the moment, this is especially true.

Phil Burton. The Matrix is us.

Gene Poole. What can I say about the 'agents'? They were the 'masters of stop'. The only thing they did was to stop; they were stoppers. Agents of life, on the other hand, are 'goers'; they are on the go, they know that they are life itself, and they promote life and protect life.

Gene Poole and !. why does Neo eat the cookie? he is still rejecting the Real, wants to be stupified, like drinking that intoxicant from the traitor-rebel. he wants to be back in the Matrix but he can't deny the Real nonetheless. it is like becoming aware of the depth of the Real and never being able to go back even if one wishes to. perhaps this is why "masters" sometimes become drug-addled (escapism)

Gene Poole, !, and Jody. There is no non-dual ontology. There is the possibility that one who has realized Brahman has a different 'perspective' with respect to Maya and that this could be termed a 'nondual perspective'.

Gene Poole, !, Jody and Petros. It would have been interesting if at the end of the film, Neo starts to question whether or not he is actually still in the Cocoon . . . that the Computer just *let* him play his little game of awakening, fighting, killing an agent, etc., in order to keep the crew happy.

! (continuing the above conversation). Is he the One? is there only One? have we established the truth of the Oracle? even the main characters in the story hadn't done so.

Marcia Paul. It has been very interesting these last few days. I find I am wearing the Matrix. I have been influenced by the movie and now I see things through the filter of the Matrix movie. And it is penetrating deeper and deeper.

Carey Wilson. Did anyone besides me expect (want) Neo to grab both of Morpheus's offered pills and swallow them down together to see what would result?

Maurice Taylor. It appears that being hooked up and programmed is better or at least more satisfying than not (in the movie), if one has the freedom of self-programming -- "self" programming being ultimately the infinite creative unfolding of Being (in form of Matrix) as Realized input to Self as self rather than limited and narrowed by a "self" constructed and programmed by a cultural-social-matrix.

Gloria Lee. Not to suggest that women have the corner on intuition, but have all oracles historically been female? I just don't see any need for her to represent God. What's wrong with being a plain old oracle, who btw even smoked and was very down to earth?

Melody Anderson (with extensive commentary by David Hodges). As soon as I saw the Oracle I recognized her as the Mother Sophia, from the Gnostic tradition. Like Sophia, the Oracle is no detached witness. They both are personifications of the higher feminine principle.... on a *mission*....to awaken humanity and to assist in their resurrection out of chaos and darkness.

Dirk. Matrix is about the shift in perception of reality. The few kids in the front room in the Oracle's apartment, those "promising student" have learned that reality can shift.

Interview with John Gaeta, Visual Effects Supervisor for The Matrix. The biggest question I've always had, and I don't know if you guys can answer it or not, is why does Neo fly at the end of the movie? John: Because he is self-actualized.

Neo and Phil Burton. How many people go about living their lives in this world with the constant realization that everything they see, hear, read, write, believe is but a projection of their own mind?

KR, Gill Eardley, Terry Murphy and Dan Berkow. Gill: I found it very poignant, and I can't recall anybody mentioning this before, when the agent told morpheus he was desperate to escape, that if he could just do this one thing he would be free. Sound familiar? Terry: I saw the allegory as one of *any* ordinary individual finding enlightenment with the help of the wise and accumulated human spiritual culture and spiritual friends (the triple gem: buddha, dharma, sangha). Dan: I discovered that the generators of the matrix were themselves generated by the matrix. The ones who escaped the matrix escaped because this escape was a program of the comprehensive matrix.

Matrix Within Matrix Within Matrix Gene Poole, with Neo and Jerry. Speaking of The Matrix, there is one line that has always puzzled me. Help anyone?


From Tim Gerchmez:

Yesterday I saw the movie "Matrix," which definitely is based on some nondual concepts (the first "popular" movie I've ever seen that I can claim was based on aspects of Eastern philosophy, which goes to show how these concepts are now penetrating Western society very rapidly).

In one of the scenes in the movie, there is a dimension shown consisting only of blank white space, the "potential" area for matrix programming .

Well, I made an interesting meditation out of this. First, I envisioned myself in a 360 degree pure white dimension. This could be compared to bodilessly floating in the dead center of a ping-pong ball. I made the mental image as clear as possible. No matter where I "looked" (up, down, left, right, anywhere), there was only whiteness, and of course nothing for the eyes to focus on, so looking around there was no sensation of change of viewpoint at all. No depth perception either, because there was nothing to focus the eyes on. Just pure whiteness.

Soon after this, I changed perspectives, and I *WAS* the white dimension. Allowing myself to BE this dimension, I found myself in contact with something deeply Divine in myself. I began to alternate between the viewpoint of "myself" within the dimension, and *being* the dimension itself.

After a while (I don't know how long), I allowed myself (as the white dimension) to consciously say "I AM." This propelled me into a state of Samadhi/SatChitAnanda. The bliss was so powerful, I was up all night last night because of it. Gotta get some sleep, or I'm gonna have to leave this body prematurely due to exhaustion ;-)

...

To me, the greatest value of the movie "The Matrix" is in introducing nondual spiritual concepts to those who have never encountered such possibilities before. The action draws one into the story, and the concepts are then free to penetrate the mind. The central theme of the movie is "Nothing is as it seems." Is this not also one of the central themes of nonduality?

If even one "average" person walks out of this movie with a slight change of perspective, it is of infinite value.

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My "favorite" scene in the movie had nothing to do with the fight scenes. It was when Keanu Reeves was talking to the child who was bending the spoon "with his mind." The child said "Do not try to bend the spoon. It is not the spoon that bends. It's the self that bends."

But did you not find my meditative experience interesting as well? :-) Perhaps it was actually quite ordinary... but it's rare that mere mental visualization has such a powerful effect.

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I wish the filmmakers had had the courage to take the movie one step further. Rather than Neo awakening in some far future, as he did, I would have liked to see him awaken to the PRESENT. I would have liked to see Morpheus point to the burned out city and say "This is what our egos really are. This is where we really live." Neo could have been an Avatar, and Morpheus and the others enlightened masters.

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In "The Matrix," there's a scene where Neo is taken to a formless place of blank whiteness, and told that this is the place where all matrix programming springs from (or something like that). To me, this blank, formless whiteness perfectly represents Brahman, Self, Sunyata, "That emptiness from which all things spring." I've even discovered that meditating on such a blank, depthless, formless, utterly silent white field is a useful technique for me (and so have actually taken something from a movie that is useful in a spiritual context!). A place such as this represents what we really are - formless, featureless, nameless, empty, pure consciousness.

---Tim Gerchmez

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The novels of Phillip K. Dick -- early works like "The Man In The High Castle" and "The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch" as well his later novels with their implications of Gnostic Christianity -- would appear to be prose equivalents to "The Matrix." Nobody hammers home "Nothing is as it seems" quite like this guy, he's about as far from space operas as Bach is from Yanni.

---Bruce Morgen


Tomas Dias de Villegas contributed:

I liked "Matrix"

there's an interview (with a guy named Vernon Kitabu Turner) in this months "What is Enlightenment?" issue that reminds me of the later part of the movie. That last fight scene where....well you know...I don't want to give anything away for anyone.

check it out here :
http://www.moksha.org/wie/j15/turner.html


Petros contributed:

This was a very interesting film. I plan on seeing it again, and I don't often see films more than once.

The film rightly questions our view of "reality," and asks "what is Real?" like a few other recent films of the past few years (The Truman Show, Dark City), but the characters themselves never leave their own dualism. That is to say, we are to accept the "resistance" as _real_, and life in the cocoons as unreal. The heroes don't realize that they are merely abandoning one "drama" for another. What would have been VERY interesting would have been if, at the end of the film, we discover that the heroes never really left their cocoons in the first place, and that the whole struggle was merely another virtual drama induced by the Machine to keep the heroes happy.

It also would have added to the dramatic tension if the Agents were portrayed as "good" guys rather than evil automatons. I.e., they want humanity to be happy and are willing to let us keep our brains intact and allow us to live out any kind of virtual fantasy we like as long as they are able to feed off of our electrical energy and, eventually, our bodies. If the Agents had underminded the heroes' faith in their "resistance" reality, there would have been more emotional tension as they would have to ask themselves if they really want to keep fighting or just relax and give in. The deck would not be so neatly stacked in favor of struggling.

After all, that's basically the way it is in duality. You can exchange one virtual drama for a million others, but we all get eaten at the end. During the film, I wondered to myself what a realized sage (like Ramana for instance) would have done if he had suddenly realized that he wasn't really sitting on a mountain but was in fact lying comatose in a liquid-filled cocoon having a dream that he was a sage, while mechanical spiders were sucking off his vital bodily fluids and electrical energy. I suspect it wouldn't make any difference to such an individual.

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Tomas Diaz de Villegas [email protected] wrote:
Hello everyone,
Just saw a new movie: eXistenZ It's set slightly in the future and is about a new Virtual Reality game which ports into a surgicaly installed socket in a person's lower spine.

Hmm . . . the muladhara chakra? Appropriate, since the movie focuses on earthy biological issues and sexuality. This is Cronenberg's basic modus operandi (see Naked Lunch or Videodrome.)

I notice in The Matrix, the characters plugged themselves in in the back of the neck -- the visuddha chakra. This seems appropriate given the movie's emphasis on more spiritual matters . . .

---Petros


From Jerry M. Katz:

I saw The Matrix last night. It is a combination of many well known stories both the scriptural and the nearly scriptural such as Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. There were themes from Bhagavad Gita, Christianity, Nagualism, Buddhism.

The integrity of the movie is based in the blending of the themes of man versus machine, man versus mind, mind versus machine. In that blending man and machine meet at the level of mind. That is where the nondual perspective shows up. For that is what man has always been doing, finding convergence at the level of mind until it comes to appear that the universe is one big thought.

Beyond that, there is the question of the source of that thought. That convergence is what the movie is about, though the probing of it is necessarily bare and contained in a line here and there, such as "Knowing the path is not the same as walking the path," or "No one knows what the matrix is, you have to see it for yourself."

The Matrix borrows from everyone and everything and is very symbolic. There are tons of Great Action, and tidal waves of sound coming from all directions to keep everybody happy. Though it is a mish-mash of symbols and themes, the movie has integrity, as discussed above, and it may stand up as a fine work of art.

It is a melange of themes and possibilities, and in that way it is very 'Nonduality Salon'. Rather than criticize the movie for that crazy mix, I find it just as easy to find enjoyment in the abundance of those themes and possibilities.

The complexity of The Matrix is its downfall and what makes it palatable at the same time, for it allows for lots of action and all kinds of fun possibilities, while being hard to follow and understand. The simplicity of the movie is what makes it artful, if not accessible.

The girl I saw it with, we talked about the movie quite a bit. It's good in that way. The Matrix could be used in a university course as a springboard for discussion on any number of themes, I would think.

Get a screensaver and view the rest of this Matrix site:
http://www.whatisthematrix.com/cmp/screensaver_index.html

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I enjoyed The Matrix as much, if not more, the second time. In fact, it was almost like a whole new movie. I understood it a lot better the second time.

To my previous comments I would add that Love is what sets man above artificial intelligence. The movie demonstrates that, but doesn't make a big deal about it. In fact, I didn't mention it in my first report, and I don't know if many people here have. That's to the movie's credit, as they could have gone all mushy. The theme of love passed me by the first time.

The Matrix is psycho-cyberspace: the meeting of mind and cyberspace. When the mind is transcended by love, the software is no match for it. That problem 'solved', the next step is separating everyone else's mind form its cyber-hold. That should take a few thousand years. Sound a lot like spiritual life? There is easily room for a trilogy here, and more, as the ending is one of those 'it is only the beginning' kind of endings.

Though the movie plays it down, I see it as being about transcendence of the mind -- and therefore psycho-cyberspace, or The Matrix -- through love.

Transcendence is liberation or freedom. There are connections with Eastern religions as well as New Age thought. Another parallel is with Eucharist or Communion, where the red pill represents blood, and the Oracle's cookie represents the body.

Whose blood and whose body? The One. Neo. The red pill represents the wholeness of his blood, its natural and free flow, Divine Life or Real Life itself; the cookie represents the wholeness of his body, its ability to resurrect and move fearlessly through the Matrix.

The Oracle would never give ordinary food; it has to be spiritual food. It has to be given for the same purpose it is given in Eucharist: because it is Truth itself.

Being given only the red pill, one only knows reality as it is, or real life. Being given also the bread or the cookie or the wafer, whatever you want to call it, one is empowered in the body, fearless and able to resurrect. But neither the red pill nor the Oracle's cookie work to their fullest without the ingredient of love.

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If Nisargadatta saw The Matrix, this quote from I Am That might be his report:

"In my world nobody is born and nobody dies. Some people go on a journey and come back, some never leave. What difference does it make since they travel in dreamlands, each wrapped up in his own dream. Only the waking up is important. It is enough to know the 'I am' as reality and also love."

Love was a thankfully underplayed theme in the movie. So where does I AM come into the movie? When Neo realized he was the One. He silently would have said 'I AM the One.' Love...I AM...The One...Neo: they are all the same. They serve to bring liberation from the Matrix.

--Jerry M. Katz

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From Christiana P. Duranczyk

I saw this movie two days ago with a friend. We also spent hours piecing and assessing the symbolism. The imagery and currents of meaning have stayed with me strongly all weekend. I am a visual learner and there were many ideas I've grappled with right there for the visual picking.

Jerry: "The integrity of the movie is based in the blending of the themes of man versus machine, man versus mind, mind versus machine. In that blending man and machine meet at the level of mind. That is where the nondual perspective shows up. For that is what man has always been doing, finding convergence at the level of mind until it comes to appear that the universe is one big thought."

While I don't disagree with this assessment, what I would identify as the integrity and the theme is... man becoming conscious of the creative vital energy lost by being embedded in the trance of the world dream, and the ultimate potential of Self operating with a liberated mind... after, of course, overcoming threatening resistance of the matrix (programmed self).

The movie is like a huge puzzle with borrowed pieces from various sources. It is delightful to hold each piece up to the light and examine it's relevance in this new configuration.

One which I thought was significant was.. our alleged history, seen from the perspective of the future.. a statement made that there was a time when humans started to become aware that they could foil the matrix programming and ultimately see, which resulted in a rewrite of the matrix program.

May it not be so! <smile> Your list does it's part in foiling the matrix program.

As you said, the plot has complexity and the teachings whiz by (and from reviews and comments overheard, I sense that many don't grasp the metaphoric implications), so let's hope that the message is received subliminally or that this becomes a classic film and hangs around for a while.

Christiana... binary sequence on the left

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"The Matrix" tends to engage consciousness in many levels and it is easy to imagine that you are living in the Matrix. In the big corporation where I am consulting at the moment, this is especially true. Today I was walking back from the cafeteria with my coffee and I happened to fall in behind a curious character.

He was walking towards the front lobby and the exit. He wore a crisp khaki uniform with a big red diamond patch on the back that said "Orkin." He wore a cap that also said "Orkin." The uniform and the cap looked brand new, without a wrinkle.

As I observed him I noticed that there was a big orange flashlight clipped to his belt, and he carried a shiny aluminum case without markings of any kind. Again, the flashlight and the aluminum case seemed brand new, untouched by wear.

He seemed to me to be the archetypal figure of "The Repairman". He reminded me of the many characters in Philip K. Dick novels who are repairmen or technicians of one kind or another...Jack Bohlen, in "Martian TimeSlip", Hoppy Harrington in "Dr. Bloodmoney," Joe Chip in "Ubik".

I began to enter the mindset of "The Matrix." This repairman was obviously an imposter. Everything about him was too new, too spiffy. He seemed like someone in disguise. I thought that perhaps he was an "Agent", sent to repair a rift in the simulation, or to install a new module. Maybe later I would discover a whole new wing of the building...or that the cafeteria was now a five-star restaurant...or that a new "person" had been installed as company CEO.

When I went outside later I noticed in the pavement a manhole cover I had never seen before. It was clean and unworn on on it in big letters it said "DRAIN". Yeah, right, I thought. Drain. Looks like a Socket to me.

In "The Matrix," Morpheus's forces also have their technician as well. His name is Tank. He keeps everything running, and can produce maps of any nook and cranny of The Matrix as well as programs to produce any kind of expertise needed, such as the ability to fly a helicopter. Tank's control panel in the "Nebuchadnezzar" is a boyhood dream come true...it consists of display after display full of constantly changing images and information.

I think this archetype of "The Technician" bears looking into. The normal programmed self requires constant repair and service to keep running. Sometimes the patches that our inner technicians apply to our reality programs are hastily done and produce ludicrous behavior. They also stay in place long after they are needed and eventually become counter-adaptive. Matrix self becomes a technician's nightmare as it is held together by an endlessly patched program that barely runs under the weight of all the exception logic forced into it by life experience. Its frequent system failures result in periodic crises as the individual is forced to undergo "downtime" while his software/hardware/wetware are fixed by the technicians and then rebooted.

Meanwhile there are those who have escaped the System Failure/Reboot cycle and have awakened in a place where they can clearly see The Matrix from outside. Their Technician (the ur-Tank) provides access to them to resources unimaginable to the souls inside. And the programs they run are always subject to conscious modification during uptime (as Neo learns).

David Hodges

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I saw "The Matrix" again last night. My daughter hadn't seen it so we went together.

I noticed a number of movie references. There are several to "The Wizard of Oz" - Cypher says something about "you'll find out that you aren't in Kansas anymore" near the beginning. And later on one of the characters, calling Tank for rescue, says something like, "Hurry up, Mr. Wizard".

When Trinity is escaping through the phone in the subway station, she yells, "Run, Neo, Run!" which is an obvious reference to Forrest Gump's Jennie who liked to advise "Run, Forrest, Run." Only Neo, unlike Forrest, doesn't take her advice!

That tracking thing that is inserted into Neo's navel and then extracted again by Trinity seems to echo the "Alien" movies with their creatures that burst out of people's bellies.

And in the moment that Marcia mentioned, when Trinity kisses Neo in that Sleeping Beauty moment and then says, "Now Get Up!" there is more than an echo of the moment in the first Terminator movie when Linda Hamilton says, "Get Up, Soldier" to her wounded protector and father-to-be of her child, who will be the rescuer of mankind.

In the final subway station fight scene, my daughter pointed out that the way that the subway train that arrives reminded her of Keanu Reaves's movie, "Speed", in which a subway train also figures prominently.

When Agent Smith keeps calling Neo "Mr. Anderson," Neo finally says "My name is....Neo!" This reminded me of ....some movie....but I can't think which. Anyone got any clues? (Unless its Forrest Gump again..."My name is Forrest...Forrest Gump."

There is also the literary symbolism of Alice in Wonderland - "follow the White Rabbit", the two pills, "Down the Rabbit hole".

Moving on to other things, the hotel where the movie starts, where Trinity is ensconced in Room 303, and where Neo makes his final escape, is called "Heart O' the City." Several times during the film the camera pans down that giant neon sign word, "HEART". It seems to be a bit of obvious symbolism that Trinity supplies HEART and that Neo grows into HEART via Trinity.

It was mentioned in one of the reviews, I think, that Trinity's room number in that hotel is 303. Neo's room number where he lives in the beginning of the film is 101. Neo, the one, and Trinity, the three.

I don't make too much of the symbolism of the names. I have a hard time doing much Christian symbol-izing, and I think maybe the film-makers went for easy resonance with some of the names rather than having deep thought-out connections.

Trinity - we all know what that is. Why she is called that isn't really obvious. She is NOT a God figure. Neo - the New
Morpheus - seems to be a combination of Shape-Shifter (morph=shape) and Morphine, feels no pain.
Nebuchadnezzar - the name of Morpheus's ship. Why call it that? Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon whose dreams were interpreted by the prophet Daniel; who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the Fiery Furnace; and who went insane: "He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird." Make of it what you will. Zion, the place where people are free of the Matrix - obvious tie-in to the mystical holy city.

The movie has a definite mythic structure, which is similar to the Star Wars trilogy. It is the story of the hero Thomas Anderson, aka Neo, who receives his Call to Adventure, experiences a new birth via a journey through water, suffers trials and initiations, visits the Oracle, descends into the "underworld" (i.e. the Matrix) to rescue Morpheus, and ends up transformed into a Warrior with Heart and a Savior of his people.

The Call to adventure: Trinity functions at the beginning as a kind of Herald angel, appearing to Neo in a magical way and calling him to leave what is familiar for the high road of adventure. Next we see Neo in his boss's office. The boss is chewing him out for being late. Outside, two window-washers are squeegeeing the boss's windows and Neo is distracted by them. I couldn't help thinking of Aldous Huxley's famous line about "cleansing the doors of perception." This seems to be a sign to Neo that his perceptions are going to radically change.

Refusal of the Call to Adventure: After initially trying to escape, Neo gives up and lets himself get captured by the Agents. This sort of thing happened in Star Wars too. Luke Skywalker initially refuses Obie Wan Kenobi's offer to leave the planet. His mind is changed when his guardian's farm is torched. And as in Star Wars, Neo's initial refusal does not really change anything.

The New Birth (Crossing the threshold): Like many heros, Neo must cross the threshold into the magical land via an initiation or rebirth. This is particularly well-done in this movie as we see Neo's real physical body in embryo, its umbilical chords snapping, its body flushing down a long birth canal and descending underwater for a kind of baptism before being lifted up into the air. Neo starts out on the ship as a hairless blank who has to be taught everything. Luke Skywalker's comparable experience, the trash-masher scene where he is pulled under water by some beast, pales by comparison.

The Mentor: Neo has a Mentor, Orpheus, just as Luke Skywalker has Obie Wan Kenobi.

Visit to the Oracle: Also extremely well done. the Film-makers reverse the usual drift of such scenes by having the Oracle confound him by saying he's NOT the one. Compare Luke Skywalker's visit to the Yoda.

Descent to the Underworld: Now we are set up for Neo's big test, the Hero's descent into the underworld where he must fight the dragon, find the gold, or some such. In this movie, he must rescue his Mentor, which is a brilliant plot innovation because in many such stories, after a time the Mentor doesn't have much to do (Star Wars actually dispatches Obie Wan rather early on though he appears from time to time as a ghostly voice). But in The Matrix Morpheus needs saving, and Neo earns his hero's stripes by being his saviour.

The Return: Typically, the Hero's work isn't done after meeting his big test. He still has to find his way back from the Underworld, often by defeating some final enemy. Neo finally defeats Agent Smith to do this and in the process becomes a Shape Shifter himself, invading Smith's body and exploding it from the inside.

Now Neo is fully tested and transformed. He has become the Warrior (thanks to Morpheus) with a Heart (thanks to Trinity) who is also ready to become the Savior of humankind. It will be interesting to see how the future episodes of this planned trilogy are plotted out, since, unlike Star Wars which took three movies to fully effect Luke's transformation, this movie
only took one.

My source for some of the terms used in this discussion is a most interesting book for anyone interested in Mythology and the Movies. It is "The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers," by Christopher Vogler. Vogler in turn got his ideas from Joseph Campbell's great "The Hero with a Thousand Faces".

---David Hodges

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Today I finally got around to going with my wife to see "The Matrix." What
an amazing film! It's a treat to see something so highly imaginative and
so thought-provoking at the same time.

The basic theme it seems is how we have succumbed to our own mental
creations. One thought that arises is the "X-Files" meme: the Matrix is a
conspiracy to make human beings into "batteries." Of course, that is a
false start, because the Matrix is "us." The Matrix is nothing other than
the so-called consensus "reality." Morpheus tells Neo that the Matrix is
an AI that became "conscious" and took over decision-making from its maker.
It is interesting in relation to group-mentality and the inner censor. Our
thoughts are constantly reflected against what "society" deems appropriate,
and a censor filters out the acceptable from the unacceptable. One's
self-esteem is determined by the group, even in so-called rebellion. Even
"identity" is social in nature.
Seeing the nature of the Matrix is having no words with which to describe
what is not-Matrix, which parallels "nondual" awakening. The best that can
be said about not-Matrix is saying nothing: that "it" is "awareness" is not
better than silence.

It is also telling that, in order to battle with the Matrix, the heroes
have to once again enter into it, and abide by the rules of engagement: the
minds that venture into the skyscraper to rescue Morpheus, are fully
corporeal. It is only when Neo "realizes" what he really is, that he is
capable of "miraculous" stopping of bullets and killing an agent.

Thanks to all in the Salon who recommended the film. Good fun.

---Phil Burton

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My $.02. "The Matrix" is the film itself. "The Matrix" is a loop
embedded in a larger Matrix which is life itself. The key to the
Matrix is "follow the white rabbit" or follow a hunch and take a risk.
Neo emerging from the amniotic water is clearly birth and separation.
Living in the designated "reality" is not better than living in the
Matrix, because a reaction to the Matrix is itself a programming.
The only freedom is in becoming conscious of the whole process, the
whole (self-)deception. The becoming conscious is facilitated by
the "deja vu" glitches that are also part of the system (the cat in
the corridor).

The Matrix is also metaphorical for the way in which human beings
succumb to their own mental creations or representations. The Matrix
is us. The group-mentality prevails, in the interest of survival,
and the inner censor is the "agent" that filters out the unfit, or
unacceptable thoughts.

My problem with the movie is that it has a gnostic/dualistic
undercurrent. It's all about reacting and polarizing. But "escape"
is part of the self-deception, and so is the notion of "offing" the
Matrix. The Matrix exists (in the movie) as a gambit for human
survival in the wake of environmental catastrophe, and in that sense
it's just doing what "we" want it to do.

--Phillip Burton

top


The Matrix as World Dream

Gene Poole

Here is another imprecise, metaphor-laden, sure-to-elict some corrective remarks, few paragraphs of my thoughts on THE MATRIX, the movie. This sure is fun!


At the moment that the scary hovering robotic machine grabbed Neo and pulled the plugin/probe from the base of his skull, he was 'officially' disconnected from the _world-dream_. Did you notice that he was terrified of this process... and that as soon as he was disconnected, that he was 'rejected' by the 'dream-machine', and essentially 'flushed down the toilet'?


It is that way, friends. If you dare ('you' in the editorial sense) to disconnect from the world-dream, you too will be worthless to that machine, just so much scrap meat. ('Lower cannot see higher') means that when one is (by dint of effort, intention, or by grace) invisible to the dreamers...
that one has lost dream-world identity... this can kindle a major identity-crisis; one may wish to reentr the Eden of the dreamers. (This is when the huge klaxons begin blaring... and the loudspeakers boom out, "ABORT! ABORT!")


It is at that moment that one can deliberately intiate connection with the 'actual', and thus gain the 'impossible' nondual perspective. How does one connect with the actual? One _is_ the actual; that is how. No world-dream label fits, and the eyes of the dreamers (including the now-decommisioned 'self' of the world-dream) are blind to the presence of This One, the actual.


[Tips from the TimeStoppers Textbook: "The 'nondual perspective' derives from having first one, and then another, point of view. Comparison of these points of view offer what is called 'perspective'."]

Yes... what this means is that when one switches to the 'non-nondual perspective' that one cannot see oneself! In other words, the mirrors of the world-dream will not reflect the 'actual'! (does this explain a lot, or what? Yeah... this is NOT all tidy and neat, it is WILD! It is ALIVE! It is not the fantasy of some anal-retentive precisionist... at all! No, friends, this is a huge, throbbing, LIVING PARADOX! And guess what? "You" just have to LIVE WITH IT! BWHAHAHAH HA!)


Now, just what would Dr Von Helsing, the vampire-hunter of DRACULA, have to say about this "mirror problem"???


Yes... Neo is now 'The One'. Yes, he DOES now wear the 'agent' look; he is now able to move about in the Matrix (world-dream) and is not noticed...
because now, HE KNOWS WHO HE IS.


Neo is now... not 'all powerful' like some god or comic-book character, but instead, a MASTER PREDATOR! And just guess, who/what is his prey... heh heh heh..

--author unknown!

-------------------

Sooner or later, it had to happen; what is, is outpictured in a
near-literal/metaphorical way, in 'The Matrix'.

Just as television is an extension/outpicturing of our visual sense, and
cars an outpicturing of our locomotion, so is this movie an outpicturing of
the SYSTEM which underlies our perceived reality.

Consider the scene in which Neo, the star ("The One") is finally
surrendering to the persuasions of his new friends/rescuers, is sitting in
a special chair. He asks of Morpheus, "What are you doing?" and Morpheous
replies to him. "We are attempting to ascertain your location". This is
mightily similar to the process which is carried out here, in the NDS. It
is common for one to be puzzled as to the stated assumptions of others,
that one is are not where they are, that one will awaken, to their true
nature, to freedom. It is also similar to the actuality, the realization
that once awakening is initiated, that the work is just beginning. Leaving
the cocoon/simulated reality of the Martix, is similar to leaving the
paradise of Eden... independence requires work, and wits, to survive. The
risks undertaken by one awakened are monumental, requiring full-time
attention.

Our own 'Matrix' is the world-dream, the concensus/social/tribal/familial
'reality' which has given us our languages, our values, and our illusion of
separateness. We suffer in the dream, and apply dream-remedies to relieve
our dream-sufferings.

The 'nondual perspective' says that all of the sufferings and pleasures of
the world-dream become irrelevant upon awakening; that for all ills of the
dream, there is only one remedy, which is to awaken from the dream. While
this is technically true, and is a convenience of expression, an attempt to
explain something, the reality of the situation is similar to the reality
expressed in The Matrix; one must actually have the experience of Being in
one, and then the other, to realize the nature of either.

When Neo was inducted into the 'resistance', he was subjected to
martial-arts trainings. In those episodes, he learned of his own
assumptions as to his abilities; he was showed by the 'master' Morpheus
that his assumptions as to his own vulnerabilities and strengths were off
the mark. He had to relearn his entire perspective of reality, using the
arena of combat as the proving-ground. He learned that he did not know, and
he learned that he had been assuming.

Finally, after the confrontation with the 'Oracle' in her funky kitchen (I
loved that scene), Neo goes up against the 'agents'.

Will he survive? Yes. In fact, his realization is such, that he becomes the
essence of life itself; he enters/invades an 'agent', as Shakti enters a
person... and in effect, demolishes that agent, remaining only as himself,
The One, now fully powerful and realized.

What can I say about the 'agents'? They were the 'masters of stop'. The
only thing they did was to stop; they were stoppers.

Agents of life, on the other hand, are 'goers'; they are on the go, they
know that they are life itself, and they promote life and protect life.
Life demands expression in all of its varities; life demand evolution, the
inevitable migration from cocoon to realization, with all of the
mind-exploding and world-dream exposing and pains and ecstasies which are
part of the process.

Life is good, and The Matrix is a true 'Millenial Movie'. It is a harbinger
of the harmony which is the underlying SYSTEM which we are. I salute the
makers of this movie, who apparently are planning a sequel, and maybe even
a trilogy.

top

The following is a commentary on Gene Poole's review by the one known as !
Gene's text is preceded by a #

#Sooner or later, it had to happen; what is, is outpictured in a
# near-literal/metaphorical way, in 'The Matrix'.

it's been done many times before (Outer Limits, Night Gallery,
Twilight Zone, many sci-fi novels and novellas and even a few films)

# ...this movie an outpicturing of the SYSTEM which underlies
# our perceived reality.

exploration of brahman beyond maya

# ..."We are attempting to ascertain your location". This is
# mightily similar to the process which is carried out here,
# in the NDS. It is common for one to be puzzled as to the
# stated assumptions of others, that one is are not where they
# are, that one will awaken, to their true nature, to freedom.

Chuangtse, dreaming/waking: butterfly <==> man
Carroll, dreaming/waking: White King
Indian, dreaming/waking/creation: Visnu
Solipsism, fabrication: self
Buddhism, ignorance/attachment: buddha-nature vs sunyata

# Leaving the cocoon/simulated reality of the Martix, is
# similar to leaving the paradise of Eden... independence
# requires work, and wits, to survive....

except that Eden is the Real, not a perceptual fiction

# Our own 'Matrix' is the world-dream, the
# concensus/social/tribal/familial 'reality' which has
# given us our languages, our values, and our illusion
# of separateness. We suffer in the dream, and apply
# dream-remedies to relieve our dream-sufferings.

language: arises out of desire to communicate; it is not a fiction
in that it implies intended meaning and succeeds in this
implication (thus directed language like 'stop' and 'paint this')
values: these underly and precede language
separateness: an "illusion" or not? this precedes values

# The 'nondual perspective' says that

there is no 'nondual perspective', since perspective requires duality
between subject and object; a perspective doesn't say anything

# all of the sufferings and pleasures of the world-dream become
# irrelevant upon awakening; that for all ills of the dream, there
# is only one remedy, which is to awaken from the dream.

why does waking from the dream solve everything?

# While this is technically true,

it is? how did you determine this?

# and is a convenience of expression, an attempt to explain
# something, the reality of the situation is similar to the
# reality expressed in The Matrix; one must actually have
# the experience of Being in one, and then the other, to
# realize the nature of either.

why not like butterfly and Chuangtse? both butterflies and
men suffer and are pleased according to their individual
experiences, but both may dream that they are the other

the reality expressed in the Matrix would have been more
convincing to me if there was ANOTHER, more fundamental
and ineffable (i.e. unshowable on film), reality 'behind'
the secondary ("real") world of the pods and grit-rebellion

# ...after the confrontation with the 'Oracle' in her funky
# kitchen (I loved that scene), Neo goes up against the
# 'agents'.

why does Neo eat the cookie? he is still rejecting the Real,
wants to be stupified, like drinking that intoxicant from the
traitor-rebel. he wants to be back in the Matrix but he can't
deny the Real nonetheless. it is like becoming aware of
the depth of the Real and never being able to go back even if
one wishes to. perhaps this is why "masters" sometimes become
drug-addled (escapism)

# ...his realization is such, that he becomes the essence of life
# itself;

does he, or does he merely learn how to manipulate the program
in its binary code and therefore shift position and form? let
us not over-emphasize his role. if the Oracle was correct,
he may be the one who sets the STAGE for the One

# he enters/invades an 'agent', as Shakti enters a
# person... and in effect, demolishes that agent,
# remaining only as himself, The One, now fully powerful
# and realized.

wishful thinking. compare "Tron". Neo dives into the agent
and possesses him, assimilating his program and therefore
transcending him and his mechanical overlords; but is this
a 'victory'? at the end of the film he communicates to the
rest of the world via computer, wears "agent" glasses, and
sets off on his own rather than becoming a more central
operative for "the resistance". he has fused Machine and
Human, becoming something more than either

# What can I say about the 'agents'? They were the 'masters
# of stop'. The only thing they did was to stop; they were
# stoppers.

they also steered (individuals). they cajoled and elicited
(information). they operated on behalf of the Machine so as
to maintain control of their power-source (human batteries).
putting the battery out of commission harms machines, stopping
the surge is as antithetical to the function of the agent
(unless it is terminally malfunctional) as would be destroying
a malfunctioning machine part rather than cordoning and
repairing it

# Agents of life, on the other hand, are 'goers'; they are on
# the go, they know that they are life itself, and they promote
# life and protect life.

until it serves their purpose to sacrifice it for the Greater Good

# Life demands expression in all of its varities; life demand
# evolution, the inevitable migration from cocoon to realization,
# with all of the mind-exploding and world-dream exposing and
# pains and ecstasies which are part of the process.

but what does a permanently Matrixed 'Prophet' really 'do'?
is it merely the 'grounding' of the Real into the Unreal,
inspiring a movement of rebels? why not wake everyone in
their coccoons up at the same time, a 'wake up call' in the
same manner as the world-telephone-ring of "Lawnmower Man"
(with which this film *ought* to be compared)?

# Life is good, and The Matrix is a true 'Millenial Movie'.
# It is a harbinger of the harmony which is the underlying
# SYSTEM which we are.

the Matrix is not destroyed or seriously debilitated in any
way that we can discern by the end of the film. it is a
typical film about some guy developing super powers in a
world that few understand (compare Dr. Strange or any
number of comic book superheroes whose efforts enable them
to transcend the common paradigms -- Gautama Buddha is a
very good example, another reason that I have called these
films 'cyberbuddhist' as they combine Buddhist cosmology
and metaphysics with cyberspace themes after Gibson and
others; Keanu Reeves appears to enjoy these films as star)

# I salute the makers of this movie, who apparently are
# planning a sequel, and maybe even a trilogy.

not surprising. this is very like religion, which seeks to
keep the viewer hooked to a continuing story rather than
to expose hir to a real 'waking up' on a mass scale.
also compare this film with "City of Darkness", in which
the protagonist doesn't believe in a dual-system wherein
there is one reality which is false and another which is
true so much as that the Sleepers are ignorant of the
underlying system which coincides and creates their world
(that they are zoo-animals and lab rats in a world that
transcends their wildest imagination).

top

The following, by jodyr, continues the dialogue. Text preceded by # is composed by
Gene Poole; text preceded by > is composed by
!

# ...this movie an outpicturing of the SYSTEM which underlies
# our perceived reality.

> exploration of brahman beyond maya

There is nothing to 'explore'. We can explore Maya from the
perspective of realization, but in Brahman there is no thing
or place to check out.

# The 'nondual perspective' says that

> there is no 'nondual perspective', since perspective requires duality
> between subject and object; a perspective doesn't say anything

There is no non-dual ontology. There is the possibility that one who
has realized Brahman has a different 'perspective' with respect to
Maya and that this could be termed a 'nondual perspective'.

# all of the sufferings and pleasures of the world-dream become
# irrelevant upon awakening; that for all ills of the dream, there
# is only one remedy, which is to awaken from the dream.

> why does waking from the dream solve everything?

In most ways it doesn't.

# While this is technically true,

> it is? how did you determine this?

It is wishful thinking to believe that once we "reach"
realization we "go beyond" our ordinary lives in the world,
with all its joys and suffering. We don't. What we
have is the sure knowledge that we are the Self, and this
can certainly be a comfort. However, we still have our
likes and dislikes, our dreams and failures.

> the reality expressed in the Matrix would have been more
> convincing to me if there was ANOTHER, more fundamental
> and ineffable (i.e. unshowable on film), reality 'behind'
> the secondary ("real") world of the pods and grit-rebellion

The only way you could express this on film is to show
peoples eyes. Brahman is not somewhere you "go", it is
*who* you are.

# ...after the confrontation with the 'Oracle' in her funky
# kitchen (I loved that scene), Neo goes up against the
# 'agents'.

> why does Neo eat the cookie? he is still rejecting the Real,
> wants to be stupified, like drinking that intoxicant from the
> traitor-rebel. he wants to be back in the Matrix but he can't
> deny the Real nonetheless. it is like becoming aware of
> the depth of the Real and never being able to go back even if
> one wishes to. perhaps this is why "masters" sometimes become
> drug-addled (escapism)

So what you are saying is that realized people take drugs to
somehow escape realization. There is nothing to escape. You've
lost something, your idea of 'me', but you're still in this
damn world, so maybe that's what they are trying to escape.
As for your idea of 'me', when you've lost it you'll wonder
why you needed it in the first place.

# he enters/invades an 'agent', as Shakti enters a
# person... and in effect, demolishes that agent,
# remaining only as himself, The One, now fully powerful
# and realized.

> wishful thinking.

Indeed, wishful thinking. Shakti does whatever She wants,
this is true. She may get a little rough as She rearranges
you, but you can forget about the power. What She offers
us in the body is freedom from ignorance. This is the
greatest blessing She can bestow on us. Power and all the
rest are trivial to Her and to Her devotees.

top

The following, by Petros, further extends the conversation:

># Sooner or later, it had to happen; what is, is outpictured in a
># near-literal/metaphorical way, in 'The Matrix'.
>
>it's been done many times before (Outer Limits, Night Gallery,
> Twilight Zone, many sci-fi novels and novellas and even a few films)

Yes. Philip K. Dick novels most notably.


># all of the sufferings and pleasures of the world-dream become
># irrelevant upon awakening; that for all ills of the dream, there
># is only one remedy, which is to awaken from the dream.
>
>why does waking from the dream solve everything?

It doesn't solve anything, but puts everything in perspective. It realizes
there is nothing to 'solve.' Just let be.


># and is a convenience of expression, an attempt to explain
># something, the reality of the situation is similar to the
># reality expressed in The Matrix; one must actually have
># the experience of Being in one, and then the other, to
># realize the nature of either.
>
>why not like butterfly and Chuangtse? both butterflies and
> men suffer and are pleased according to their individual
> experiences, but both may dream that they are the other
>
>the reality expressed in the Matrix would have been more
> convincing to me if there was ANOTHER, more fundamental
> and ineffable (i.e. unshowable on film), reality 'behind'
> the secondary ("real") world of the pods and grit-rebellion

Yes. I noted in another post that Morpheus himself suggests to Neo (when
they are in the White Room with TV) something like, "How do we know what is
real? It's all just signals in the brain." Cocoon life and Resistance life
could be the same for all they knew. It would have been interesting if at
the end of the film, Neo starts to question whether or not he is actually
still in the Cocoon . . . that the Computer just *let* him play his little
game of awakening, fighting, killing an agent, etc., in order to keep the
crew happy.

The ineffable reality behind all this would be unmanifest, nondistinct; thus
there would be no one in it to recognize that it exists.


># ...his realization is such, that he becomes the essence of life
># itself;
>
>does he, or does he merely learn how to manipulate the program
> in its binary code and therefore shift position and form? let
> us not over-emphasize his role. if the Oracle was correct,
> he may be the one who sets the STAGE for the One.

Yes, I think Neo just learns how to gain power over the AI program.

With full realization, or whatever it may be called, there would no longer
be a motivation to distinguish between the AI program and any alternative;
both cocoon life and "awakened" life would be seen as necessary parts of
Totality. I.e., he might be inclined to agree with AI that the purpose of
homo sapiens really was to bring life to AI and become its "food"
thereafter. He might see the mercifulness of AI in allowing the humans to
keep their minds and their fantasies. After all, the computer could have
grown them without brains or heads if it wanted to.


># he enters/invades an 'agent', as Shakti enters a
># person... and in effect, demolishes that agent,
># remaining only as himself, The One, now fully powerful
># and realized.
>
>wishful thinking. compare "Tron". Neo dives into the agent
> and possesses him, assimilating his program and therefore
> transcending him and his mechanical overlords; but is this
> a 'victory'? at the end of the film he communicates to the
> rest of the world via computer, wears "agent" glasses, and
> sets off on his own rather than becoming a more central
> operative for "the resistance". he has fused Machine and
> Human, becoming something more than either.

Yes. He goes from playing one game to playing another.



># Life demands expression in all of its varities; life demand
># evolution, the inevitable migration from cocoon to realization,
># with all of the mind-exploding and world-dream exposing and
># pains and ecstasies which are part of the process.
>
>but what does a permanently Matrixed 'Prophet' really 'do'?
> is it merely the 'grounding' of the Real into the Unreal,
> inspiring a movement of rebels? why not wake everyone in
> their coccoons up at the same time, a 'wake up call' in the
> same manner as the world-telephone-ring of "Lawnmower Man"
> (with which this film *ought* to be compared)?

Maybe he didn't have that power. Remember how difficult it was for Morpheus
to wake Neo up. Maybe a sudden forced awakening would be too traumatic for
most people in the cocoons. Thus, the crew prefers to drop little "clues"
in people's dreams, as in PKD's novels.


># Life is good, and The Matrix is a true 'Millenial Movie'.
># It is a harbinger of the harmony which is the underlying
># SYSTEM which we are.
>
>the Matrix is not destroyed or seriously debilitated in any
> way that we can discern by the end of the film. it is a
> typical film about some guy developing super powers in a
> world that few understand (compare Dr. Strange or any
> number of comic book superheroes whose efforts enable them
> to transcend the common paradigms -- Gautama Buddha is a
> very good example, another reason that I have called these
> films 'cyberbuddhist' as they combine Buddhist cosmology
> and metaphysics with cyberspace themes after Gibson and
> others; Keanu Reeves appears to enjoy these films as star)

But like Buddha, Neo may have the ability to communicate or transmit the
same awakening to others. Not everyone perhaps, but a few here and there,
maybe more later on. This may or may not confer the same degree of "power"
over the Matrix that Neo has (since he is the One.) I don't see the
average superhero (even Dr. Strange) as "awake" at all to the real nature of
their world, only playing dramas *within* the world.

It is an interesting thought -- can one wake up to the nature of the Matrix,
yet remain powerless to actually do anything about it? To remain within the
drama of the cocoon, while knowing somehow that it is phony? It seems that
in the real world (!), enlightened beings (sic) generally live out the same
lives as everyone else and are not able to overcome the basic physical laws
of our reality, despite seeing its relativity.


># I salute the makers of this movie, who apparently are
># planning a sequel, and maybe even a trilogy.
>
>not surprising. this is very like religion, which seeks to
> keep the viewer hooked to a continuing story rather than
> to expose hir to a real 'waking up' on a mass scale.

Then again, What do you do once you wake up? Become a "master idler"
(Ramana Maharshi) is only one option; jumping back into the game is another.
You play life *as* a game, recognizing it is only virtual reality.
The Gita speaks of this "problem of action."

top

! continues the conversation:

[email protected] (!):
|# the Matrix is not destroyed or seriously debilitated in any
|# way that we can discern by the end of the film. it is a
|# typical film about some guy developing super powers in a
|# world that few understand (compare Dr. Strange or any
|# number of comic book superheroes whose efforts enable them
|# to transcend the common paradigms -- Gautama Buddha is a
|# very good example, another reason that I have called these
|# films 'cyberbuddhist' as they combine Buddhist cosmology
|# and metaphysics with cyberspace themes after Gibson and
|# others; Keanu Reeves appears to enjoy these films as star)

xristo[email protected] (Peter J. Lima):
| But like Buddha, Neo may have the ability to communicate or
| transmit the same awakening to others. Not everyone perhaps,
| but a few here and there, maybe more later on. This may or
| may not confer the same degree of "power" over the Matrix
| that Neo has (since he is the One.)

is he the One? is there only One? have we established the truth
of the Oracle? even the main characters in the story hadn't
done so

| I don't see the average superhero (even Dr. Strange) as
| "awake" at all to the real nature of their world, only
| playing dramas *within* the world.

countless stories have Strange battling interlopers to the
dimension of which he is the 'Sorceror Supreme'. little do
the sleeping normals know what kind of cosmic threat they
are defended against in the 'spiritual' or 'astral' world,
and it is the duty of Dr. Strange to protect them in just
this fashion. this is more like "City of Darkness" than it
is "The Matrix"

| It is an interesting thought -- can one wake up to the nature
| of the Matrix, yet remain powerless to actually do anything
| about it?

this was the initial condition of Neo

| To remain within the drama of the cocoon, while knowing
| somehow that it is phony?

depends on what 'within the drama' includes. if the drama is
the emotional investment and belief in its reality, then it
would seem not. if one could understand that one was actually
interacting with real humans through a FILTER of a constructed
artificial reality, then the drama remains, even if its exact
nature is disputed

| It seems that in the real world (!), enlightened beings (sic)
| generally live out the same lives as everyone else and are
| not able to overcome the basic physical laws of our reality,
| despite seeing its relativity.

by 'real world' I gather you mean nonmovie dimension; by
'enlightened beings' I'm not sure what you mean. how can we
tell if someone is 'enlightened' unless they are somehow
different from the run-of-the-mill norm? aren't there special
characteristics of these folks and wouldn't these profoundly
affect the kind of lives such people live out?

|#> I salute the makers of this movie, who apparently are
|#> planning a sequel, and maybe even a trilogy.
|#
|# not surprising. this is very like religion, which seeks to
|# keep the viewer hooked to a continuing story rather than
|# to expose hir to a real 'waking up' on a mass scale.
|
| Then again, What do you do once you wake up?

why is there a presumption that life changes at this juncture?
'first there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then
there is'? 'nothing special'? 'practice is enlightenment'?

waking up seems to me to be a greater cognizance surrounding
intentional choice. such a wake-up should lead to greater
concern about the totality of one's impact upon others,
a refinement of lifestyle and deathstyle to a beauteous
repercussion, and the promotion of vitality and peace,
whether in one's own back yard or throughout the cosmos

| Become a "master idler" (Ramana Maharshi) is only one option;

in one's own back yard

| jumping back into the game is another.

one's back yard is not 'the game'? is travelling and sporting
the necessary means of promulgating the Dharma? must one
venture outward to mature inwardly and transmit this Dharma?
or is there no real difference between 'here' and 'there'?

| You play life *as* a game, recognizing it is only virtual reality.

cf. "Liber MUD: MUDs and Western Mysticism", by Haramullah,
http://www.abyss.com/avidyana/gnostik/libermud.tn which
explains how "virtual reality" is an oxymoron

| The Gita speaks of this "problem of action."

not duty vs compassion?

---!

Gene Poole's Home Page

top


The Matrix is Hell only people don't know it.
Reality is Hell as people think of it. Neo is "the One"
i.e. the unified one. The original Matrix was the Garden
of Eden and Neo is the Second Coming. I forgot why
the original Matrix wouldn't hold. And the Oracle was
priceless baking cookies and smoking. And the part
about following the white rabbit was pretty good too.
And Zion is the New Jerusalem.

"If you are the one you know it. It is like love. You know
it from your balls to your bones." :-)

----------------------------

I loved the part about Trinity and Neo.

After Neo apparently is not the One and is lying apparently
dead having been blown apart by the Machine Man, Trinity
leans over him in the real world and says that the Oracle
told her that she would fall in love with the One and since
she is in love with him he has to be the One. She leans over
and in a reverse Sleeping Beauty kiss, kisses him.

And then after pausing just a moment she says.......

"Now Get Up!!!!!"

Ain't it the truth? :-)

And..........

When Neo is both being and becoming the One, Morpheous
says....."Now he is starting to believe. There is a difference between
knowing about the Path and walking the Path."

And........

The Machine Men are the instincts. In the end Neo incorporates the
Machine Man. He goes inside the Machine Man.

top

-----------------------

It has been very interesting these last few days. I find
I am wearing the Matrix. I have been influenced by the
movie and now I see things through the filter of the Matrix
movie. And it is penetrating deeper and deeper.

Today I noticed a slight paranoia about something. I can't
even remember what it was. So I started to trace it back
to see if I could discover what the initial trigger was for the
paranoia. What I noticed was that I began to think of it as
a tear in the Matrix. Something of reality had crept in for
just a moment and my response in the dream world was
paranoia. I held real still and I realized why this was. The
reason for the paranoia was that I would rather be paranoid
then see that in the real world the trigger was nothing. That
the paranoia served to keep "me" in the center of the focus.
Self focused in other words. Realizing my own nothingness
was the initial response and the second response quick on it's
heals was paranoia.

At this point I have a choice. I can wake up all the way or I
can become paranoid about being paranoid. There must be
a third choice. Maybe it is just to stay exactly where I am in
the perceiving process.

Marcia

--------------------------

Hi Marcia,
Thanks for your insight about Matrix. I seem to remember the Oracle's
message to Neo was that he was not the One in this life, but might be in
another. When Neo dies and is brought back to life by Trinity's love and
belief Neo is in this other life. So the Oracles' prophesy is fulfilled. Who
then is the Oracle and what is the reality of her world?
Namaste,
Dirk

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Did anyone besides me expect (want) Neo to grab both of Morpheus's offered
pills and swallow them down together to see what would result? Given that
he didn't, I thought the movie was good for a few laughs and squirms, and
may have even been momentarily thought provoking to its target audience of
neophyte stoners, of which there seemed to be plenty in attendance. Given a
choice I'd rather watch Terry Gilliam's film version of Fear and Loathing
in Las Vegas, which explores much of the same ideological/spiritual
terrritory from a different, though probably equally puerile, perspective.
Enthusiasts of this sort of fantastically violent, kid macho esoterica (of
which I grudgingly count myself one) may also be interested in the comic
"The Invisibles," by Grant Morrison, put out by DC Comic's Vertigo imprint.
It's like, COOOOoool, man.
Cheers to All,
Carey Wilson
[email protected]

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The Matrix has some interesting "consciousness" themes and I offer some
observations:

A main theme is freedom. But, interestingly, it is not freedom from the
Matrix, but from the dominant form of control within the Matrix. This
control is that of an evolved computer-machine complex that uses humans for
food or electrical power. Humans are grown from birth and hooked up
mechanically and brain fed to keep them alive and "happy" for the machine
complex. From birth humans are fed a social program that makes them think
and act as though this virtual really were real. Note: this is our present
social matrix as an analogy. In the movie, humans are simply asleep, hooked
up to a Matrix program and living a virtual reality (our present social
reality).

However, in the movie, some humans have woke up having acquired some special
matrix codes and hacked through the illusion. You take the "red" pill and
you get to see the truth. However, seeing this truth, you are not outside
the dominant control of the present social matrix law and "they" are after
you. Any "freedom" that is not of the socially programmed sort is against
the law. The matrix police are specially programmed to track down and
destroy, and given super powers to do this (since they are programmed to do
this it is quite logical they have specially programmed abilities that the
regular inhabitants of virtual reality do not have).

However, the matrix police are still programmed and are in that way still
limited. The rebels (humans who have acquired access to how to code
themselves) have a slight advantage if they can get beyond their usual
programming. Once they know this is all virtual reality (a big step) they
can begin to program themselves in ways never dreamed possible. The "One"
(main hero-character -- Atman?) is the first to begin to realize this in the
most complete sense (he was also a programmer in the "real" virtual-world).

It appears that being hooked up and programmed is better or at least more
satisfying than not (in the movie), if one has the freedom of
self-programming -- "self" programming being ultimately the infinite
creative unfolding of Being (in form of Matrix) as Realized input to Self as
self rather than limited and narrowed by a "self" constructed and programmed
by a cultural-social-matrix. This point however, as many of these points, is
not explicit in the movie, exactly. In the case proposed here, Matrix = Self
(Brahman = Atman). There is more here but I think this is enough, perhaps,
too much <g>.

Maurice

[email protected]
http://www.radicalconsciousness.net

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Ah yes, a woman in her kitchen (the Oracle)... how god-like. I loved that scene, too,
but I don't see her as God. I want to bring in her other prophecy here,
which was about how Neo would have to choose between his life and that of
Morpheus, which he did when he chose to re-enter the matrix and risk his
life to rescue Morpheus. I thought it was thru making that choice and
during the subsequent battle that he came to realize he was the One. Trinity
may have made that next life possible, but Neo's realization was a
do-it-yourself project.

Not to suggest that women have the corner on intuition, but have all oracles
historically been female? I just don't see any need for her to represent
God. What's wrong with being a plain old oracle, who btw even smoked and was
very down to earth? The reality of her world was that she had meals to
prepare, prophesying while stirring the pots. Its a subtle distinction, and
that she was an otherwise ordinary woman is no more or less important to the
plot than say a visit to to some hermit in a cave, or some other "more
traditionally spiritual image".. I, for one, appreciated that the movie
showed her as an ordinary woman. As for making her into God, thanks, but no
thanks.

---Gloria Lee

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I finally saw the movie Sunday, and have caught
up on the Matrix posts from the last few weeks,
which I saved until I saw the movie.

As soon as I saw the Oracle I recognized her
as the Mother Sophia, from the Gnostic tradition.
Like Sophia, the Oracle is no detached witness.
They both are personifications of the higher
feminine principle.... on a *mission*....to awaken
humanity and to assist in their resurrection
out of chaos and darkness.

(As I recall, Sophia herself descended into
matter, and thus all who followed after her.
Yet, if I recall correctly, she is responsible
for the holy spark latent within humanity, and
makes it her mission to assist mankind in their
awakening. If I got that wrong, please don't
hesitate to correct me....)

Seeing the Oracle, and Sophia, as the archetype
of the 'One' Soul, from which all individual souls
emerge from the realm of matter, it is not the
least bit surprising for me to find her in the
kitchen baking cookies.

And to the question concerning prophesy,
the Oracle to me did not seem to represent
prophesy, but rather Intuition. This I think
is an important distinction as prophesy concerns
itself with the predicting of events... and Intuition
concerns itself with the alignment/awakening of
the conscious being with its Self/Soul.....which
seemed to me to be the mission of the Oracle.

--Melody Anderson

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-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

David Hodges' response to Melody:

Nice illumination, Melody. I agree that the Oracle partakes of the same
archetype as Sophia. Her function in the movie seemed so natural to me that
it took Dirk's question to really make me think about her and what she is
doing in this story of the trials of the Hero, Neo.
"Going to see the Oracle" represents simulataneously a kind of graduation
for Neo from his training, and an initiation into the deeper life he is to
live and the darker ordeal he is to face. The Oracle is no real-life
survivor in the saved city of Zion, but someone who lives right in the
Matrix. She is perhaps part of the simulation that is the Matrix, or
someone cleverly hidden in plain sight within the Matrix. I couldn't help
thinking of Oracle, the database software. Like other operating
system-level software, Oracle is a many-armed dispatcher of threads and
processes, a kind of inner clearing house of transactions and retriever of
hidden information. And like its cousin server software, the Web Server,
Oracle might give its clients a "cookie" to track their activities once
they detach from the current session. The Oracle, then, does routing and
dispatching within the labyrinth of the Matrix and leaves those that come
to her marked with a cookie as they move off to their further journey. This
reminds me of the Eucharist, and the Oracle of a High Priestess. The cookie
that Neo solemnly bites into is the wafer of communion that marks him and
changes him and makes him ready for his ordeal to come.
Trinity, the young female, issues Neo's Call to Adventure early in the
movie, but it is the Oracle, the older, wiser female, who initiates him
into the depths. She announces to him the further details of the mystery
that Trinity could not know about - the riddle that he or Morpheus will
have to be sacrificed. I agree that it was quite right of her to say that
ne was not the One - at that moment. He becomes the One when he passes the
test and solves the riddle by saving Morpheus.
But also at that moment with the Oracle, Neo is not "The One" because he
is a man, a human. His connection with the deeper powers available to him
comes only after he leaves the Oracle, as that cookie takes hold and
becomes a kind of "I AM" that opens him to transcendent experience. Neo, as
Thomas Anderson, never IS The One, but Thomas Anderson, who at the end
proclaims "My name is Neo", becomes a vehicle for The One to come into the
world and begin it's deeply loving, compasssionately understanding,
completely inevitable work of salvation.

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Thank you to everyone who replied to the thread about Matrix. I especially appreciate the perception of the divine in the commonplace. How often do we forget the miracle of breathing in. Whenever I've been open enough to feel the total magnificence of life it is always in the context of some totally mundane event. Significance is an internal realization. Being hit between the eyes with life and nearly falling down .. then breathing in and finishing a sentence so the person I'm talking to doesn't notice I might be crazy. Matrix is about the shift in perception of reality. The few kids in the front room in the Oracle's apartment, those "promising student" have learned that reality can shift. What does the one say? You can't bend the spoon you have to know that this is your Self. It's easy to bend your self. Like the movie I'm sitting in front of a computer in a cubicle typing away. What is real? All of it and it is all of God.

Namaste,
Dirk

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MEET JOHN GAETA, VISUAL EFFECTS SUPERVISOR FOR 'THE MATRIX'

John Gaeta won the Oscar for visual effects. The following is taken from a chat session with John Gaeta. I've deleted the portions with the other guests. If you want to read the entire chat session, go to http://www.whatisthematrix.com

Even if you've seen the Matrix three times, you'll want to see it again after reading the chat transcripts, or even after reading what follows.

guest-Jaisin says: What was the inspiration behind the Matrix "code"?

John: It's the fabric of life.

guest-shokker says: what is your favorite scene?

John: My actual favorite scene is the one in which Morpheus and Neo and Trinity and the group go into the Matrix and this is the scene at which point Neo understands what he is going into and there is a very simple shot of them exiting an apartment building in slow motion that despite the fact that it is a very simple camera trick, it is incredibly powerful and is so well set up, that you really believe you have entered an altered state of reality.

guest-BatNeal says: What advice would you give to anyone interested in a special effects carreer?

John: Work for free--anything to get your foot in the door.
It's such a strange field. People come in from all different types of places and their path of entry is always unique. There is no one way unless, of course, you have computer skills, especially in graphics.

guest-wry says: John--every time I come down my steps I think of that slow-mo scence. It was great! Thanks.

John: Me too. My life works in slow motion.

guest-uga says: how hard was it to do the bullet time effects?

John: Any time you are asked to do something that has never been done before, it is as hard from an emotional and self-confident point of view as it is from a technical point of view.

guest-jonandben says: How did you guys get started in special effects?
How would you recommend I get in?

John: Work for nothing--that's how I did it.

guest-NEO says: Is editing the hardest job to do?

John: I would say marketing.

guest-Batbat224 says: Are you going to be making any other movies in the style of the Matrix in the future?

John: I think Matrix is a very contemporary type of movie and it's arrival comes with the arrival of a few other equally contemporary and free type of movie experiences and I think there will be many movies that appear as a gimmick or a copy of the Matrix but then again there will be many many more movies that are authentically becoming part of modern cinema.

guest-ZEUS says: I was wondering if you will do the Visual Effets on Matrix 2 and 3? if so can you tell us what will be in it?

John: I actually love the spoon scene because it is a simple application of visual effects towards a story concept and it serves the story as opposed to being just an eye catching scene.

John: Absolutely I will do the Visual Effects on the Matrix trilogy and No, I can't tell you what will be in it.

guest-ScubaMDW says: What was the most expensive special effect in the movie?

John: Probably the shot with the babies in the field of pods.
...

John: I was just in Poland in Warsaw a month ago and attended a Matrix DVD lodge party that was much cooler than any of the LA parties and hats off to the undergound kids on that side of the world. They know exactly what the vibe is.

John: Without giving anything away, I believe that visual effects will slowly become more and more used to visualize a character's perception of the world and applied in more subtle and subliminal ways as opposed to purely eye-catching and I intend to pursue all manner of perceptual trickery.
...

guest-DHoberer says: I loved the scene at the end where Neo flies into the Agent and the Agent explodes. How'd you do that?

John: Basically by rebuilding the Agent as a 3D form and mapping the image of his performance upon that form and then using some particle system dynamics simulation, we create the breakage of that image and that 3D form.

guest-mlscs says: The biggest question I've always had, and I don't know if you guys can answer it or not, is why does Neo fly at the end of the movie?

John: Because he is self-actualized.

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NEO

The beauty of the movie (The Matrix) for me is that just like in the matrix people believe that the world that they live in, their perceptions, and all of their beliefs, even their own identity is real.

How many people go about living their lives in this world with the constant realization that everything they see, hear, read, write, believe is but a projection of their own mind?

******

That "everything" which you see is loaded. If you could see
"everything" you could not function. You see selectively, and what
you see is not you. Like we speak glibly of the "universe" and we are
merely pointing to some expansive emotion. In the context of the
Matrix, you may see what you are permitted to see: the display that
the system generates. --Phil Burton

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For the movie The Matrix, do you agree/disagree and what are your
thoughts that The Matrix was intended to be an allegory to the level of
control exerted on Americans by the media?
--"K R" <[email protected]>

gill eardley:

The only way to know for sure what it was intended to be would be to
ask the wachowski brothers. That said, it seems a rather narrow view.
To me it seemed an allegory to the level of control exerted on the
minds of most of humanity (not just Americans) by a few 'men in suits'.
The media, governments, business magnates; those who crave what they
view as 'control', and have a vested interest in keeping that control.

Paradoxically, it is those people who are most in need of 'freeing
their minds', those who are chasing ever more after 'power' which they
think will bring them freedom and happiness, and which is ultimately
like digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole, with less and less
chance of escape. I found it very poignant, and I can't recall anybody
mentioning this before, when the agent told morpheus he was desperate
to escape, that if he could just do this one thing he would be free.
Sound familiar?

terry murphy:

I saw the allegory as being much greater than simply media control.
Note the numerous reference to Lewis Carroll: was he simply talking
about media control? 'How deep does the rabbit hole go?' Morpheus was a
Buddha (awakened one); that 'morpheus' refers to sleep/death shows how
topsy turvy the phenomenal world is from Reality, as jesus points out,
those who seek to save their lives lose them, and those who lose them
preserve them, while he himself lived that nondual view as a martyr.
The 'matrix' itself is Maya, the world-illusion, the construct that
each individual creates and imagines that they live 'in.' The
'illusion-dwellers' for the most part are not ready to be 'unplugged,'
but morpheus/buddha and his crew/disciples were prepared to awaken
those individuals who could be awakened, with the ultimate aim of
awakening all sentient beings. 'Neo' was 'the One,' the ordinary you
and me sitting at our computer consoles seeking 'the truth' about the
matrix/maya. When 'neo' was prepared, by the oracle/insight, to
sacrifice his individual life to save the buddha/morpheus, then he
became the One/an enlightened being/bodhisattva. The buddha/avatar was
always searching for a being he could turn into a bodhisattva, and was
trying to free people from the world illusion (the truth: there is no
spoon/there are no things). Neo simply wanted answers, but morpheus'
sole aim was to turn a neos into Ones. The 'suits' were machines/mental
constructs/ego, whose primary function in being was to remain in
control, and utilize 'life' as a power source for machine functioning.
They would be happy to create a 'perfect world'/happy world illusion
but life 'wouldn't accept the programming,' because as 'some said,'
they 'didn't have the programming *language* to describe such a world'
(language is inherently dualistic and happiness can only be described
by referring to unhappiness) or because humans 'defined their lives by
misery' (dualism is inherent in the development of life). You are right
that the suits/ego always think they can make some sort of progress,
accomplish one more thing and be done with this 'stink,' this world
that they 'hate' and 'can't stand'; the suits had to unplug from each
other even to admit that much. The suits had more raw physical power
than real people within the matrix, but they were inherently limited by
the rules of the matrix, while neo, being potentially the One, was not
limited at all by the rules of the matrix, once he realized the truth
('physical strength' means nothing 'in this place'). So I saw the
allegory as one of *any* ordinary individual finding enlightenment with
the help of the wise and accumulated human spiritual culture and
spiritual friends (the triple gem: buddha, dharma, sangha).

Great movie...

Dan Berkow:
aloha, terry

Yes, Terrry.
You are on-target.
Well-said and namaste!

After knowing myself
as the One, I found out
that Neo, the oracle,
and Morpheus,
and the outside of
the matrix from which
reality was seen,
and the One,
were just other programs
of the "comprehensive" matrix.

I discovered that the
generators of the matrix
were themselves generated
by the matrix. The ones
who escaped the matrix
escaped because this
escape was a program
of the comprehensive matrix.

I am speaking to you simply
as a program occurring
here to a program occurring
there.

The matrix that generates
the matrix has described
itself to its own
self-generated programs
as the "uncreated" --
thus giving form to yet
another program ...


http://www.geocities.com/prithwis/Philo001/MV-MatrixVedanta.html

Background

What is The Matrix ? It is a science fiction movie featuring Keanu Reeves ("Neo"), Carrie-Anne Moss ("Trinity") and Laurence Fishburne ("Morpheus") released by Warner Brothers in 1999 that explores the complex relationship between physical human beings and their perception of reality as controlled by a gigantic computer programme - "The Matrix". The movie has most of the Hollywood elements of high drama, action, violence and a cameo love affair but what is most intriguing -- and most probably overlooked -- is its striking similarity with the philosophy of Vedanta. There is an uncanny echo of Sankara's treatment of the Atman, the Self, and Maya -- the veil that shields the Atman. What is science fiction today may just become scientific fact tomorrow and this apparent convergence may just be a harbinger of a more significant convergence of rational science and the intuitive insight of Indian philosophy. Hence this analysis.


The Movie

The year is 2199 and computers with artificial intelligence have taken over the world. Human beings are born (or "cultivated") in captivity and at birth are connected to a life support system that feeds then intravenously till death. The bio-chemical activity in their bodies is used as a source of electric power to support the computers -- but that is not relevant in this case. What is important is that each person's brain is connected to the central computer. Complex programmes -- the Matrix -- running on this computer feed a continuous stream of stimuli to the brain and this causes the individual to perceive a full range emotions associated with growing up, moving around -- including flying through space, working, growing old and finally dying. The Matrix programme is smart enough to simulate a whole range of physical locations like parks, gardens, restaurants, train stations that people can visit -- or perceive to visit -- and interact with just as if they were physically there. They also perceive images of other individuals -- some rooted in other physical captive bodies, while others could be pure creations of the computer simulation process. Interactions between two individuals are also simulated.



There is a small group "independent" humans who live outside the Matrix in place called Zion. They have their own computers through which they are able to "hack into" the Matrix programme. This allows them to "enter" and "exit" the Matrix through telephone lines. When the enter the Matrix, their physical bodies remain at Zion, connected to the Zion computers, just as the bodies of the captive humans remain in their incubators. The crucial difference between the independents and the captives is that the former can actually "exit" from the Matrix and detach themselves from the Zion computers. Then they can live and perceive Reality.



Within this complex environment, the movie weaves a fantasy of heroism and love. Morpheus is the leader of the independent people and he has located and identified Neo -- currently a captive -- as the one who will destroy the Matrix and free mankind from this slavery to computers. Neo's arrival has been foretold by the Oracle. Morpheus and his band of independent humans, enter the Matrix, contact Neo and convince him of his importance. Then they detach his body from the Matrix computer, remove his body from the incubators and take it to Zion. Here they rejuvenate and repair his degenerated body. Now Neo, like the other independent humans can connect to the Zion computers and enter and exit from the Matrix at will. Would he succeed in his mission ? Since the actual outcome of the adventure is not relevant to this analysis, we will not reveal the ending for those who wish to see the film.


Vedanta : a brief outline



The Indian or Sanskrit word for philosophy is darsana -- which means direct vision. This word highlights a major difference between modern Western philosophy -- that predominantly depends on intellectual pursuit, and Indian philosophy that relies on direct visions of truth and Buddhi or reasoning. These visions of truth forms the foundation of all schools of Indian philosophy and were directly experienced by ancient sages living in various parts of India. The direct and transcendent experience of reality beyond the logical and material domains is both the source and the ultimate goal of these systems. The mind and the senses are the necessary tools that are initially used in the process of attaining the highest state, but they are not adequate to attain the final goal -- transcendent insight alone provides the whole truth.



These direct intuitive insights were first formalised as the four Vedas - Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva, possibly as early as 4000 BC. The original Rig-Veda consists of nearly 20,000 verses that appear as simple prayers to deities, yet couched in highly symbolic language, they contain great philosophical and metaphysical meaning. With the passage of time, this body of vedic literature evolved through four chronological phases, Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka and the Upanishad. The Upanishads represent the culmination of the Vedic approach. There are one hundred of eight Upanishads of which eleven are considered pre-eminent and in these eleven, the wisdom of the Vedas reach its acme. The word Veda means "knowledge" and Vedanta -- another name for the Upanishads -- means "the end of knowledge". The Upanishads are written as a dialogue between a teacher and a student and the truth is revealed in stages according to the capacity of the student.



Over the past 2000 years, many learned men and women, have interpreted this mass of knowledge according to their understanding and this has resulted in the various schools of Indian philosophy like Nyaya, Sankhya, Yoga and Vedanta. All these schools try to answer the following fundamental questions :



1. Who am I ? From where have I come from and why ? What is the relationship between me and the universe and other human beings ?

2. What is the essential nature of my being and what is the essential of the universe ?

3. What is the relationship between consciousness and the objects of the universe ?

4. What is truth and how do we arrive at rational conclusions on the question of truth





The Vedanta school, formalised by Sankara sometime between the sixth and ninth century AD, is acknowledged by many to be the most comprehensive interpretation of the direct intuitive insights that form the foundations of Vedic literature. A full exposition of the Vedanta school is impossible within the scope of this analysis. Nevertheless, some of the key concepts which are relevant for this comparison with the movie Matrix are described below :



1. Atman - the Self : The entire phenomenal world is bound by time, space and causation and as long as one is confined by these concepts, the experience is limited. Beyond the realms of time and space, there is an absolute and unconditional Reality that has no beginning and no end. That is Atman, the Self. The Self cannot be experienced by the senses. This Self is both within and outside the body. Unlike the body it is beyond death and decay. The Self is the fountainhead of the life force that animates and motivates the mind-body complex. According to Sankara, this Self is the all-pervading, self-illumined Consciousness.

2. Brahman - the Supreme Consciousness : Brahman is the ultimate Truth within and without. Brahman is also all-pervading and self-illumined Consciousness and the relationship of the Brahman to the Self is that of the forest to the tree. The entire universe emanates from Brahman, exists in Brahman and at the time of dissolution returns into Brahman. Stepping beyond the primitive monotheism of the Judeo-Christian philosophy/theology, Sankara asserts that the individual Atman and the universal Brahman are one and the same and the concept of a creator that is distinct from the creation is a cosmic illusion.

3. Maya - the Illusion : The phenomenal universe that can be perceived by the senses is actually an illusion called Maya. This Maya is what causes human beings to perceive worldly phenomena and respond to the environment. Vedanta states that Maya shields the Truth or Brahman from the Self or Atman. The concepts of time and space that veil the face of Truth are aspects of Maya. Because Maya veils the Truth, the individual Atman misconstrues both the world and itself as different from the Truth or Brahman.



The individual Self is liberated when it succeeds in breaking through this illusion and progressively understands that



v Brahman alone is real and the universe is unreal

v There is only one Brahman without a second

v I, that is the Self, is the Brahman

v The entire universe is Brahman



These truths have to be understood, not at the gross level of conventional "bookish" learning, but at an intuitive level of passionate conviction and belief. One can read the Upanishads from cover to cover and understand every word and paragraph. However the Truth dawns if and only if the individual Atman is conditioned to receive the Truth -- this happens through a variety of devices including but not limited to Yoga, meditation and the influence of certain narcotic drugs.



Vedanta has many more interesting concepts but a full discussion of all of them is beyond the scope of this study. Let us get back to the Matrix.


The Similarities



The movie obviously does not have a one to one correspondence with Vedanta. Nevertheless there are certain similarities. Consider the following passage where Morpheus introduces Neo to the Matrix :



Morpheus : I know..._exactly_ what you mean. Let me tell you why you're
here. You're here because you know something. What you know,
you can't explain. But you feel it. You've felt it your
entire life. That there's something _wrong_ with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there...like a splinter
in you're mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has
brought you to me. Do you _know_ what I'm talking about?
Neo : The Matrix
Morpheus : Do you want to know...._what_ _it_ is....?

Neo nods

Morpheus : The Matrix is everywhere. It's all around us, even in this
very room. You can see it when you look out your window or
when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you
go to work, when you go to work, when you pay your taxes.
The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes,
to blind you from the truth.
Neo : What truth?
Morpheus :That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born
into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or
taste or touch. A prison...for your mind....Unfortunatly,
no one can be..._told_ what the Matrix is...you have to see
it for yourself.



The Matrix computer programme is analogous to the Maya of Vedanta, the illusion that is perceived by the senses as the physical world. Morpheus "detaches" Neo's body from the Matrix computer (and the associated computer programme) and brings him to actual physical "reality" and this is what Neo looks and feels :



The metal harness opens and drops the half-conscious Neo onto the floor. Human hands and arms help him up as he finds himself looking straight at Morpheus, Trinity and Apoc, along with others he doesn't recognize. Morpheus smiles, and speaks quietly to Neo.

Morpheus : Welcome to the real world....

Neo passes out.
As he is unconscious, Morpheus and Trinity talk in hushed voices

Morpheus : ...We've done it, Trinity...we've found him.
Trinity : I hope you're right...
Morpheus : I don't _have_ to hope. I know it.

Neo wakes up later on, and looks at Trinity and Morpheus, who are standing watching him.

Neo : ....Am I dead?
Morpheus : Far from it...

Neo passes out again.
Later on, he wakes up. He sees his body pierced with dozens of acupuncture-like needles wired to a strange device.

Dozer: He still needs a lot of work.
Neo : What are you doing?
Morpheus : Your muscles have atrophied, we're rebuilding them.
Neo : Why do my eyes hurt?

Neo blinks

Morpheus : You've never used them before.

Neo looks confused



Confronted with this reality, Neo feels helpless, and wants to go back to the illusory comfort of the Maya / Matrix. Morpheus allows him to do so



Morpheus : You wanted to know...what the Matrix is, Neo?

Neo nods unsteadily

Morpheus nods to Trinity

Morpheus : Trinity...

Trinity approaches Neo, and helps him into an armchair, strapping in his feet, and leaning his head back against the head rest.
Morpheus looks at Neo

Morpheus : Try to relax...this will feel....a little _weird_.

As Morpheus guides a coaxial line into the jack at the back of his neck, Neo screams and makes a few other disturbing noises.

When he opens his eyes, he is standing in a totally white place. His hair is back, and he is wearing different clothes.
As Neo spins around a bit, trying to see what's going on, Morpheus appears in front of him.

Morpheus : This is the construct. It is our loading program. We can
load anything from clothing, to equipment, weapons,
training simulations, anything we need.

Neo is having a hard time getting a grasp of this.

Neo : Right now....we're inside a computer program?
Morpheus : Is it really so hard to believe? Your clothes are
different. The plugs in your arms and head are gone. Your
hair has changed.

Neo puts a hand to his head and touches his hair

Morpheus : Your appearance now is what we call residual self image.
It is the mental projection...of your digital self.

Two chairs appear in front of them, and Neo reaches out to touch one. He runs his hand along it's back.

Neo : This....this isn't real?

Morpheus looks at him

Morpheus : What _is_ real? How do you _define_ real? If you're
talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what
you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical
signals interpreted by your brain.

A television appears in front of the two chairs, as Neo sits down in the chair beside Morpheus. Morpheus picks up the television control and turns it on.

Morpheus : _This_ is the world that you know. The world as it was at
the end of the twentieth century. It exists now only as
part of a neural-interactive simulation, that _we_ call
the Matrix.





There are some other interesting similarities between Maya and the Matrix programme. In explaining Maya, Sankara very often refers to the example of the rope and the snake. As long as one mistakes a rope for a snake, he is frightened and reacts to the rope as if it were a real snake. When he realizes that what he sees is only a rope he laughs. Similarly, as long as one is engrossed in the ignorance of relative consciousness, the world is indeed quite "real". But when true knowledge dawns, one becomes aware that the world was a fake.



Perceiving the "real" world as a "fake" needs deep insight and sceptics have often wondered that if the snake was a fake rope, how is it possible for it to actually kill someone. Sankara argues that the vivid imagination creates the presence of the snake in a rope and this imagination is so strong that a person can die from an imaginary snakebite. Thus, wrongly perceived situations may result in physical or psychological reactions.



There is a very similar situation that happens in the movie. Neo has entered the Maya / Matrix and makes his first attempt to fly through the air.



Summoning every ounce of strength in his legs, Neo launches himself into the air in a single maniacal shriek - But comes up drastically short.
His eyes widen as he plummets. Stories fly by, the ground rushing up at him, but as he hits - The ground gives way, stretching like a trapeze net.
He bounces and flips, slowly coming to a rest, flat on his back.
He laughs, a bit unsure, wiping the wind-blown tears from his face.
Morpheus exits the building and helps him to his feet.
Inside the Nebuchadnezzar, the crew are feeling kind of let down by Neo.

Mouse : What...what does this mean?
Switch : It doesn't _mean_ anything...
Cypher : Everybody falls the first time. Right, Trin?


But Trinity has left. Neo's eyes open as Tank eases the plug out. He tries to move and groans, cradling his ribs. While Tank helps Morpheus, Neo spits blood into his hand.

Neo : I thought it wasn't real.
Morpheus : Your mind makes it real...
Neo : If you're killed in the Matrix...you die here?
Morpheus : The body cannot live without the mind.


To sum up



Indian philosophy relies on intuition and insight, functions that are performed by the right part of the human brain. "Modern" western science depends on rational analysis, that utilises the left side of the brain. This rational approach has given us mathematics, computer science, the concept of virtual reality and is trying to create artificial "intelligence". We have for a long time believed that 'East is East and West and West and never the twain shall meet'. Is this really so ? As mankind tries to push back the frontiers of knowledge, perhaps the time has come to realise that the two paths are converging towards a common understanding of the great riddle that has puzzled philosophers down the ages. Who knows how human knowledge will evolve in the future.












Acknowledgements



Vedanta is a part of the common heritage of the Indian nation. However these concepts are presented here in a manner that is based on the book "Seven Systems of Indian Philosophy" by Pandit Rajamani Tigunait, Ph.D. ISBN 0-89389-076-6 © 1983 by The Himalayan International Institute [www.himalayaninstitute.org].



The portions of the script of the movie Matrix that are used here was compiled by Shelly Poole [[email protected]] and is available in the internet.


About the Author



Dr. Prithwis Mukerjee is an engineer from IIT, Kharagpur and has done his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas, USA. A computer professional, he has worked in Tata Steel, Tata IBM and is currently an Executive Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd., India. He "publishes" an electronic magazine ("ezine") that is available on the internet at www.yantrajaal.com


http://music.ign.com/articles/458/458007p1.html

GN: Unless I'm completely off base here, the music for Revolutions seemed a lot more epic, almost operatic, than what you had written for the previous two installments. There was much more choral arrangements and, I hesitate to use the term, but much more of a Wagnerian vibe, an overall epic, over-the-top intensity about it.

Don Davis: Don't hesitate, use the word! Because when we were spotting Revolutions the word "Wagnerian" came up very often. And the reason was because, you know Wagner was very much a fan of Schopenhauer. He was actually obsessed with the Schopenhauer ideas of will and representation. And these ideas turned up consistently in his symphonies, particularly in Parsifal and Die Meistersinger and Tristan und Isolde. And it was significant enough to both Larry and Andy and myself that we felt working on the third part of this trilogy, which is significantly about philosophy—no less Schopenhauer than Hegle and Kant and Heidegger and Kierkegaard, but still definitely Schopenhauerian and also Nietzsche, who was a close friend of Wagner's up until Parsifal, when they had a falling out. One of the things I did in acknowledging this Wagnerian tradition of philosophy in multi-media drama was that I quoted the "Tristan" chord over the "Deus Ex Machina." It was kind of hidden amongst the orchestration, but it was definitely there. But the "Tristan" chord kind of came to symbolize the end of harmony, of classical theory and the beginning of atonality. I kind of thought it would be cool to use the "Tristan" chord to show this pivot at the end of these three Matrix movies.

IGN: That's cool that you stuck in some "subliminal" musical references like that.

Don Davis: Yeah. And, you know, when we first looked at Revolutions , Larry and Andy told me they wanted the super burly brawl, which is the cataclysmic fight mano-et-mano between Neo and Agent Smith, they wanted the choir to have a significant voice in that scene. And I told them that I thought that was a really good idea but if the choir just sang "ooooohs" and "aaaaaaaahs" it would be significantly not very good. So I asked them if they would look for something in literature that represented some of the ideological themes that had influenced them when they were writing The Matrix that we could give to the choir and have them sing. And I told them that I actually preferred a language that wasn't English and if possible a "dead" language like Latin, so that even around the world there's nobody who is actively speaking the language that the choir is singing. They eventually came up with about six passages from the Vedic scriptures called the Upanishads. And we had them sing it in the original Sanskrit. And these texts are amazingly apropos to the whole ontological concept of The Matrix. It refers to "the one." Let me read one of them: "In him are woven the sky and the earth and all the regions of the air. And in him rests the mind and all the powers of life. Know him as "The One" and leave aside all other words. He is the bridge of immortality." I mean [laughs] that's amazing. And the first text you hear sung in the burly brawl sequence is a prayer which goes "From delusion lead me to truth, from darkness lead me to light, from death lead me to immortality." I think that adds a whole layer of meaning to the entire trilogy.


http://grove.ufl.edu/~hsc/doc/matrix.pdf Vedantic interpretation


http://nisargadatta.net/Matrix/matrix_philosophy_1.htm

Journal of Religion and Film

Wake up!
Gnosticism and Buddhism in The Matrix

By Frances Flannery-Dailey, Hendrix College
and
Rachel Wagner, The University of Iowa



Vol. 5, No. 2, October 2001

Wake up! Gnosticism and Buddhism in The Matrix

By Frances Flannery-Dailey, Hendrix College
and
Rachel Wagner, The University of Iowa

Abstract

[1] The Wachowski brothers' 1999 hit release The Matrix draws on multiple religious traditions to establish its complex worldview. Two of the most prominent are Gnostic Christianity and Buddhism, which, like the film, pose humanity's fundamental problem and its solution in terms of ignorance and enlightenment. Because of ignorance, people mistake the "material" world for something real, but they may "wake up" from this dream with help from a guide who teaches them their true nature. This article explores the film's pervasive allusions to Gnosticism and Buddhism, which in turn opens up the question of the film's overarching message and ultimate view of reality.

Article

[2] In The Matrix, a 1999 film by the Wachowski brothers, a black-clad computer hacker known as Neo falls asleep in front of his computer. A mysterious message appears on the screen: "Wake up, Neo."1 This succinct phrase encapsulates the plot of the film, as Neo struggles with the problem of being imprisoned in a "material" world that is actually a computer simulation program created in the distant future by Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) as a means of enslaving humanity, by perpetuating ignorance in the form of an illusory perception called "the matrix." In part, the film crafts its ultimate view of reality by alluding to numerous religious traditions that advance the idea that the fundamental problem which humanity faces is ignorance and the solution is knowledge or awakening. Two religious traditions on which the film draws heavily are Gnostic Christianity and Buddhism.2 Although these traditions differ in important ways, they agree in maintaining that the problem of ignorance can be solved through an individual's reorientation of perspective concerning the material realm.3 Gnostic Christianity and Buddhism also both envision a guide who helps those still trapped in the limiting world of illusion, a Gnostic redeemer figure or a bodhisattva, who willingly enters that world in order to share liberating knowledge, facilitating escape for anyone able to understand. In the film, this figure is Neo, whose name is also an anagram for "the One."

[3] Although as a "modern myth"4 the film purposefully draws on numerous traditions,5 we propose that an examination of Gnostic Christianity and Buddhism well illuminates the overarching paradigm of The Matrix, namely, the problem of sleeping in ignorance in a dreamworld, solved by waking to knowledge or enlightenment. By drawing syncretistically on these two ancient traditions and fusing them with a technological vision of the future, the film constructs a new teaching that challenges its audience to question "reality."

Christian Elements in The Matrix

[4] The majority of the film's audience probably easily recognizes the presence of some Christian elements, such as the name Trinity6 or Neo's death and Christ-like resurrection and ascension near the end of the film. In fact, Christian and biblical allusions abound, particularly with respect to nomenclature:7 Apoc (Apocalypse), Neo's given name of Mr. Ander/son (from the Greek andras for man, thus producing "Son of Man"), the ship named the Nebuchadnezzar (the Babylonian king who, in the Book of Daniel, has puzzling symbolic dreams that must be interpreted),8 and the last remaining human city, Zion, synonymous in Judaism and Christianity with (the heavenly) Jerusalem.9 Neo is overtly constructed as a Jesus figure: he is "the One" who was prophesied to return again to the Matrix, who has the power the change the Matrix from within (i.e., to work miracles), who battles the representatives of evil and who is killed but comes to life again.

[5] This construction of Neo as Jesus is reinforced in numerous ways. Within minutes of the commencement of the movie, another hacker says to Neo, "You're my saviour, man, my own personal Jesus Christ."10 This identification is also suggested by the Nebuchadnezzar's crew, who nervously wonder if he is "the One" who was foretold, and who repeatedly swear in Neo's presence by saying "Jesus" or "Jesus Christ."11 In still another example, Neo enters the Nebuchadnezzar for the first time and the camera pans across the interior of the ship, resting on the make: "Mark III no. 11." This seems to be another messianic reference, since the Gospel of Mark 3:11 reads: "Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, ' You are the Son of God!'"

Gnosticism in The Matrix

[6] Although the presence of individual Christian elements within the film is clear, the overall system of Christianity that is presented is not the traditional, orthodox one. Rather, the Christian elements of the film make the most sense when viewed within a context of Gnostic Christianity.12 Gnosticism was a religious system that flourished for centuries at the beginning of the Common Era, and in many regions of the ancient Mediterranean world it competed strongly with "orthodox" Christianity, while in other areas it represented the only interpretation of Christianity that was known.13 The Gnostics possessed their own Scriptures, accessible to us in the form of the Nag Hammadi Library, from which a general sketch of Gnostic beliefs may be drawn.14 Although Gnostic Christianity comprises many varieties, Gnosticism as a whole seems to have embraced an orienting cosmogonic myth that explains the true nature of the universe and humankind's proper place in it.15 A brief retelling of this myth illuminates numerous parallels with The Matrix.

[7] In the Gnostic myth, the supreme god is completely perfect and therefore alien and mysterious, "ineffable," "unnamable," "immeasurable light which is pure, holy and immaculate" (Apocryphon of John). In addition to this god there are other, lesser divine beings in the pleroma (akin to heaven, a division of the universe that is not earth), who possess some metaphorical gender of male or female.16 Pairs of these beings are able to produce offspring that are themselves divine emanations, perfect in their own ways.17 A problem arises when one "aeon" or being named Sophia (Greek for wisdom), a female, decides "to bring forth a likeness out of herself without the consent of the Spirit," that is, to produce an offspring without her consort (Apocry. of John). The ancient view was that females contribute the matter in reproduction, and males the form; thus, Sophia's action produces an offspring that is imperfect or even malformed, and she casts it away from the other divine beings in the pleroma into a separate region of the cosmos. This malformed, ignorant deity, sometimes named Yaldaboath, mistakenly believes himself to be the only god.

[8] Gnostics identify Yaldabaoth as the Creator God of the Old Testament, who himself decides to create archons (angels), the material world (earth) and human beings. Although traditions vary, Yaldabaoth is usually tricked into breathing the divine spark or spirit of his mother Sophia that formerly resided in him into the human being (especially Apocry. of John; echoes of Genesis 2-3). Therein lies the human dilemma. We are pearls in the mud, a divine spirit (good) trapped in a material body (bad) and a material realm (bad). Heaven is our true home, but we are in exile from the pleroma.

[9] Luckily for the Gnostic, salvation is available in the form of gnosis or knowledge imparted by a Gnostic redeemer, who is Christ, a figure sent from the higher God to free humankind from the Creator God Yaldabaoth. The gnosis involves an understanding of our true nature and origin, the metaphysical reality hitherto unknown to us, resulting in the Gnostic's escape (at death) from the enslaving material prison of the world and the body, into the upper regions of spirit. However, in order to make this ascent, the Gnostic must pass by the archons, who are jealous of his/her luminousity, spirit or intelligence, and who thus try to hinder the Gnostic's upward journey.

[10] To a significant degree, the basic Gnostic myth parallels the plot of The Matrix, with respect to both the problem that humans face as well as the solution. Like Sophia, we conceived an offspring out of our own pride, as Morpheus explains: "early in the 21st century, all of mankind was united in celebration. We marveled at our own magnificence as we gave birth to A.I."18 This offspring of ours, however, like Yaldabaoth is malformed (matter without spirit?). Morpheus describes A.I. as "a singular consciousness that spawned an entire race of machines," a fitting parallel for the Gnostic Creator God of the archons (angels) and the illusory material world. A.I. creates the matrix, a computer simulation that is "a prison for your mind." Thus, Yaldabaoth/ A.I. traps humankind in a material prison that does not represent ultimate reality, as Morpheus explains to Neo: "As long as the matrix exists, the human race will never be free."

[11] The film also echoes the metaphorical language employed by Gnostics. The Nag Hammadi texts describe the fundamental human problem in metaphorical terms of blindness, sleep, ignorance, dreams and darkness / night, while the solution is stated in terms of seeing, waking, knowledge (gnosis), waking from dreams and light / day.19

[12] Similarly, in the film Morpheus, whose name is taken from the Greek god of sleep and dreams, reveals to Neo that the matrix is "a computer generated dreamworld." When Neo is unplugged and awakens for the first time on the Nebuchadnezzar in a brightly lit white space (a cinematic code for heaven), his eyes hurt, as Morpheus explains, because he has never used them. Everything Neo has "seen" up to that point was seen with the mind's eye, as in a dream, created through software simulation. Like an ancient Gnostic, Morpheus explains that the blows he deals Neo in the martial arts training program have nothing to do with his body or speed or strength, which are illusory. Rather, they depend only on his mind, which is real.

[13] The parallels between Neo and Christ sketched earlier are further illuminated by a Gnostic context, since Neo is "saved" through gnosis or secret knowledge, which he passes on to others. Neo learns about the true structure of reality and about his own true identity, which allows him to break the rules of the material world he now perceives to be an illusion. That is, he learns that "the mind makes it [the matrix, the material world] real," but it is not ultimately real. In the final scene of the film, it is this gnosis that Neo passes on to others in order to free them from the prison of their minds, the matrix. He functions as a Gnostic Redeemer, a figure from another realm who enters the material world in order to impart saving knowledge about humankind's true identity and the true structure of reality, thereby setting free anyone able to understand the message.

[14] In fact, Neo's given name is not only Mr. Anderson / the Son of Man, it is Thomas Anderson, which reverberates with the most famous Gnostic gospel, the Gospel of Thomas. Also, before he is actualized as Neo (the one who will initiate something "New," since he is indeed the "One"), he is doubting Thomas, who does not believe in his role as the redeemer figure.20 In fact, the name Thomas means "the Twin," and in ancient Christian legend he is Jesus' twin brother. In a sense, the role played by Keanu Reeves has a twin character, since he is constructed as both a doubting Thomas and as a Gnostic Christ figure.21

[15] Not only does Neo learn and pass on secret knowledge that saves, in good Gnostic fashion, but the way in which he learns also evokes some elements of Gnosticism. Imbued with images from eastern traditions, the training programs teach Neo the concept of "stillness," of freeing the mind and overcoming fear, cinematically captured in "Bullet Time" (digitally mastered montages of freeze frames / slow motion frames using multiple cameras).22 Interestingly enough, this concept of "stillness" is also present in Gnosticism, in that the higher aeons are equated with "stillness" and "rest" and can only be apprehended in such a centered and meditative manner, as is apparent in these instructions to a certain Allogenes:

And although it is impossible for you to stand, fear nothing; but if you wish to stand, withdraw to the Existence, and you will find it standing and at rest after the likeness of the One who is truly at rest...And when you becomes perfect in that place, still yourself... (Allogenes)

[16] The Gnostic then reveals, "There was within me a stillness of silence, and I heard the Blessedness whereby I knew my proper self" (Allogenes).23 When Neo realizes the full extent of his "saving gnosis," that the matrix is only a dreamworld, a reflective Keanu Reeves silently and calmly contemplates the bullets that he has stopped in mid-air, filmed in "Bullet Time."

[17] Yet another parallel with Gnosticism occurs in the portrayal of the agents such as Agent Smith, and their opposition to the equivalent of the Gnostics - that is, Neo and anyone else attempting to leave the matrix. A.I. created these artificial programs to be "the gatekeepers - they are guarding all the doors, they are holding all the keys." These agents are akin to the jealous archons created by Yaldabaoth who block the ascent of the Gnostic as he/she tries to leave the material realm and guard the gates of the successive levels of heaven (e.g., Apocalypse of Paul).24

[18] However, as Morpheus predicts, Neo is eventually able to defeat the agents because while they must adhere to the rules of the matrix, his human mind allows him to bend or break these rules.25 Mind, though, is not equated in the film merely with rational intelligence, otherwise Artificial Intelligence would win every time. Rather, the concept of "mind" in the film appears to point to a uniquely human capacity for imagination, for intuition, or, as the phrase goes, for "thinking outside the box." Both the film and the Gnostics assert that the "divine spark" within humans allows a perception of gnosis greater than that achievable by even the chief archon / agent of Yaldabaoth:

And the power of the mother [Sophia, in our analogy, humankind] went out of Yaltabaoth [ A.I. ] into the natural body which they had fashioned [the humans grown on farms by A.I.]... And in that moment the rest of the powers [archons / agents ] became jealous, because he had come into being through all of them and they had given their power to the man, and his intelligence ["mind"] was greater than that of those who had made him, and greater than that of the chief archon [Agent Smith?]. And when they recognized that he was luminous,and that he could think better than they... they took him and threw him into the lowest region of all matter [simulated by the matrix]. (Apocry. of John 19-20)

[19] It is striking that Neo overcomes Agent Smith in the final showdown of the film precisely by realizing fully the illusion of the matrix, something the agent apparently cannot do, since Neo is subsequently able to break rules that the agent cannot. His final defeat of Smith entails entering Smith's body and splitting him in pieces by means of pure luminosity, portrayed through special effects as light shattering Smith from the inside out.

[20] Overall, then, the system portrayed in The Matrix parallels Gnostic Christianity in numerous respects, especially the delineation of humanity's fundamental problem of existing in a dreamworld that simulates reality and the solution of waking up from illusion. The central mythic figures of Sophia, Yaldabaoth, the archons and the Gnostic Christ redeemer also each find parallels with key figures in the film and function in similar ways. The language of Gnosticism and the film are even similar: dreaming vs. waking; blindness vs. seeing;26 light vs. dark.27

[21] However, given that Gnosticism presumes an entire unseen realm of divine beings, where is God in the film? In other words, when Neo becomes sheer light, is this a symbol for divinity, or for human potential? The question becomes even more pertinent with the identification of humankind with Sophia - a divine being in Gnosticism. On one level, there appears to be no God in the film. Although there are apocalyptic motifs, Conrad Ostwalt rightly argues that unlike conventional Christian apocalypses, in The Matrix both the catastrophe and its solution are of human making - that is, the divine is not apparent.28 However, on another level, the film does open up the possibility of a God through the figure of the Oracle, who dwells inside the matrix and yet has access to information about the future that even those free from the matrix do not possess. This suggestion is even stronger in the original screenplay, in which the Oracle's apartment is the Holy of Holies nested within the "Temple of Zion."29 Divinity may also play a role in Neo's past incarnation and his coming again as the One. If, however, there is some implied divinity in the film,30 it remains transcendent, like the divinity of the ineffable, invisible supreme god in Gnosticism, except where it is immanent in the form of the divine spark active in humans.31

Buddhism in The Matrix

[22] When asked by a fan if Buddhist ideas influenced them in the production of the movie, the Wachowski brothers offered an unqualified "Yes."32 Indeed, Buddhist ideas pervade the film and appear in close proximity with the equally strong Christian imagery. Almost immediately after Neo is identified as "my own personal Jesus Christ," this appellation is given a distinctively Buddhist twist. The same hacker says: "This never happened. You don’t exist." From the stupa-like33 pods which encase humans in the horrific mechanistic fields to Cypher’s selfish desire for the sensations and pleasures of the matrix, Buddhist teachings form a foundation for much of the film’s plot and imagery.34

[23] The Problem of Samsara. Even the title of the film evokes the Buddhist worldview. The matrix is described by Morpheus as "a prison for your mind." It is a dependent "construct" made up of the interlocking digital projections of billions of human beings who are unaware of the illusory nature of the reality in which they live and are completely dependent on the hardware attached to their real bodies and the elaborate software programs created by A.I. This "construct" resembles the Buddhist idea of samsara, which teaches that the world in which we live our daily lives is constructed only from the sensory projections formulated from our own desires. When Morpheus takes Neo into the "construct" to teach him about the matrix, Neo learns that the way in which he had perceived himself in the matrix was nothing more than "the mental projection of your digital self." The "real" world, which we associate with what we feel, smell, taste, and see, "is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain." The world, Morpheus explains, exists "now only as part of a neural interactive simulation that we call the matrix." In Buddhist terms, we could say that "because it is empty of self or of what belongs to self, it is therefore said: ‘The world is empty.’ And what is empty of self and what belongs to self? The eye, material shapes, visual consciousness, impression on the eye -- all these are empty of self and of what belongs to self."35 According to Buddhism and according to The Matrix, the conviction of reality based upon sensory experience, ignorance, and desire keeps humans locked in illusion until they are able to recognize the false nature of reality and relinquish their mistaken sense of identity.

[24] Drawing upon the Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Co-Origination, the film presents reality within the matrix as a conglomerate of the illusions of all humans caught within its snare. Similarly, Buddhism teaches that the suffering of human beings is dependent upon a cycle of ignorance and desire which locks humans into a repetitive cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. The principle is stated in a short formula in the Samyutta-nikaya:

If this is that comes to be;
from the arising of this that arises;
if this is not that does not come to be;
from the stopping of this that is stopped.36

[25] The idea of Dependent Co-Origination is illustrated in the context of the film through the illusion of the matrix. The viability of the matrix’s illusion depends upon the belief by those enmeshed in it that the matrix itself is reality. A.I.’s software program is, in and of itself, no illusion at all. Only when humans interact with its programs do they become enmeshed in a corporately-created illusion, the matrix, or samsara, which reinforces itself through the interactions of those beings involved within it. Thus the matrix’s reality only exists when actual human minds subjectively experience its programs.37

[26] The problem, then, can be seen in Buddhist terms. Humans are trapped in a cycle of illusion, and their ignorance of this cycle keeps them locked in it, fully dependent upon their own interactions with the program and the illusions of sensory experience which these provide, and the sensory projections of others. These projections are strengthened by humans’ enormous desire to believe that what they perceive to be real is in fact real. This desire is so strong that it overcomes Cypher, who can no longer tolerate the "desert of the real" and asks to be reinserted into the matrix. As he sits with Agent Smith in an upscale restaurant smoking a cigar with a large glass of brandy, Cypher explains his motives:

"You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss."

[27] Cypher knows that the matrix is not real and that any pleasures he experiences there are illusory. Yet for him, the "ignorance" of samsara is preferable to enlightenment. Denying the reality that he now experiences beyond the matrix, he uses the double negative: "I don’t want to remember nothing. Nothing. And I want to be rich. Someone important. Like an actor." Not only does Cypher want to forget the "nothing" of true reality, but he also wants to be an "actor," to add another level of illusion to the illusion of the matrix that he is choosing to re-enter.39 The draw of samsara is so strong that not only does Cypher give in to his cravings, but Mouse also may be said to have been overwhelmed by the lures of samsara, since his death is at least in part due to distractions brought on by his sexual fantasies about the "woman in the red dress" which occupy him when he is supposed to be standing alert.

[28] Whereas Cypher and Mouse represent what happens when one gives in to samsara, the rest of the crew epitomize the restraint and composure praised by the Buddha. The scene shifts abruptly from the restaurant to the mess hall of the Nebuchadnezzar, where instead of being offered brandy, cigars and steak, Neo is given the "bowl of snot" which is to be his regular meal from that point forward. In contrast to the pleasures which for Cypher can only be fulfilled in the matrix, Neo and the crew must be content with the "single-celled protein combined with synthetic aminos, vitamins, and minerals" which Dozer claims is "everything the body needs." Clad in threadbare clothes, subsisting on gruel, and sleeping in bare cells, the crew is depicted enacting the Middle Way taught by the Buddha, allowing neither absolute asceticism nor indulgence to distract them from their work.40

[29] The Solution of Knowledge/Enlightenment. This duality between the matrix and the reality beyond it sets up the ultimate goal of the rebels, which is to free all minds from the matrix and allow humans to live out their lives in the real world beyond. In making this point, the film-makers draw on both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist ideas.41 Alluding to the Theravada ideal of the arhat, the film suggests that enlightenment is achieved through individual effort.42 As his initial guide, Morpheus makes it clear that Neo cannot depend upon him for enlightenment. Morpheus explains, "no one can be told what the matrix is. You have to see it for yourself." Morpheus tells Neo he must make the final shift in perception entirely on his own. He says: "I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it." For Theravada Buddhists, "man’s emancipation depends on his own realization of the Truth, and not on the benevolent grace of a god or any external power as a reward for his obedient good behavior."43 The Dhammapada urges the one seeking enlightenment to "Free thyself from the past, free thyself from the future, free thyself from the present. Crossing to the farther shore of existence, with mind released everywhere, no more shalt thou come to birth and decay."44 As Morpheus says to Neo, "There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path." And as the Buddha taught his followers, "You yourselves should make the effort; the Awakened Ones are only teachers."45 As one already on the path to enlightenment, Morpheus is only a guide; ultimately Neo must recognize the truth for himself.

[30] Yet The Matrix also embraces ideas found in Mahayana Buddhism, especially in its particular concern for liberation for all people through the guidance of those who remain in samsara and postpone their own final enlightenment in order to help others as bodhisattvas.46 The crew members of the Nebuchadnezzar epitomize this compassion. Rather than remain outside of the matrix where they are safer, they choose to re-enter it repeatedly as ambassadors of knowledge with the ultimate goal of freeing the minds and eventually also the bodies of those who are trapped within the Matrix’s digital web. The film attempts to blend the Theravada ideal of the arhat with the Mahayana ideal of the bodhisattva, presenting the crew as concerned for those still stuck in the matrix and willing to re-enter the matrix to help them, while simultaneously arguing that final realization is an individual process.

[31] Neo as the Buddha. Although the entire crew embodies the ideals of the bodhisattva, the filmmakers set Neo apart as unique, suggesting that while the crew may be looked at as arhats and bodhisattvas, Neo can be seen as a Buddha. Neo’s identity as the Buddha is reinforced not only through the anagram of his name but also through the myth that surrounds him. The oracle has foretold the return of one who has the ability to manipulate the matrix. As Morpheus explains, the return of this man "would hail the destruction of the matrix, end the war, bring freedom to our people. That is why there are those of us who have spent our entire lives searching the matrix, looking for him." Neo, Morpheus believes, is a reincarnation of that man and like the Buddha, he will be endowed with extraordinary powers to aid in the enlightenment of all humanity.

[32] The idea that Neo can be seen as a reincarnation of the Buddha is reinforced by the prevalence of birth imagery in the film directly related to him. At least four incarnations are perceptible in the film. The first birth took place in the pre-history of the film, in the life and death of the first enlightened one who was able to control the matrix from within. The second consists of Neo’s life as Thomas Anderson. The third begins when Neo emerges, gasping, from the gel of the eerily stupa-like pod in which he has been encased, and is unplugged and dropped through a large black tube which can easily be seen as a birth canal.47 He emerges at the bottom bald, naked, and confused, with eyes that Morpheus tells him have "never been used" before. Having "died" to the world of the matrix, Neo has been "reborn" into the world beyond it. Neo’s fourth life begins after he dies and is "reborn" again in the closing scenes of the film, as Trinity resuscitates him with a kiss.48 At this point, Neo perceives not only the limitations of the matrix, but also the limitations of the world of the Nebuchadnezzar, since he overcomes death in both realms. Like the Buddha, his enlightenment grants him omniscience and he is no longer under the power of the matrix, nor is he subject to birth, death, and rebirth within A.I.’s mechanical construct.49

[33] Neo, like the Buddha, seeks to be free from the matrix and to teach others how to free themselves from it as well, and any use of superhuman powers are engaged to that end. As the only human being since the first enlightened one who is able to freely manipulate the software of the matrix from within its confines, Neo represents the actualization of the Buddha-nature, one who can not only recognize the "origin of pain in the world of living beings," but who can also envision "the stopping of the pain," enacting "that course which leads to its stopping."51 In this sense, he is more than his bodhisattva companions, and offers the hope of awakening and freedom for all humans from the ignorance that binds them.

[34] The Problem of Nirvana. But what happens when the matrix’s version of reality is dissolved? Buddhism teaches that when samsara is transcended, nirvana is attained. The notion of self is completely lost, so that conditional reality fades away, and what remains, if anything, defies the ability of language to describe. In his re-entry into the matrix, however, Neo retains the "residual self-image" and the "mental projection of [a] digital self." Upon "enlightenment," he finds himself not in nirvana, or no-where, but in a different place with an intact, if somewhat confused, sense of self which strongly resembles his "self" within the matrix. Trinity may be right that the matrix "cannot tell you who you are," but who you are seems to be at least in some sense related to who you think you are in the matrix. In other words, there is enough continuity in self-identity between the world of the matrix and "the desert of the real" that it seems probable that the authors are implying that full "enlightenment" has not yet been reached and must lie beyond the reality of the Nebuchadnezzar and the world it inhabits. If the Buddhist paradigm is followed to its logical conclusions, then we have to expect at least one more layer of "reality" beyond the world of the crew, since even freed from the matrix they are still subject to suffering and death and still exhibit individual egos.

[35] This idea is reinforced by what may be the most problematic alteration which The Matrix makes to traditional Buddhist teachings. The Buddhist doctrine of ahimsa, or non-injury to all living beings, is overtly contradicted in the film.52 It appears as if the filmmakers deliberately chose to link violence with salvific knowledge, since there seems to be no way that the crew could succeed without the help of weaponry. When Tank asks Neo and Trinity what they need for their rescue of Morpheus "besides a miracle," their reply is instantaneous: "Guns -- lots of guns." The writers could easily have presented the "deaths" of the agents as nothing more than the ending of that particular part of the software program. Instead, the Wachowski brothers have purposefully chosen to portray humans as innocent victims of the violent deaths of the agents.53 This outright violation of ahimsa stands at direct odds with the Buddhist ideal of compassion.

[36] But why link knowledge so directly with violence? The filmmakers portray violence as redemptive,54 and as absolutely essential to the success of the rebels. The Matrix steers sharply away at this point from the shared paradigms of Buddhism and Gnostic Christianity. The "reality" of the matrix which requires that some humans must die as victims of salvific violence is not the ultimate reality to which Buddhism or Gnostic Christianity points. Neither the "stillness" of the pleroma nor the unchanging "nothingness" of nirvana are characterized by the dependence on technology and the use of force which so characterizes both of the worlds of the rebels in The Matrix.

[37] The film’s explicit association of knowledge with violence strongly implies that Neo and his comrades have not yet realized the ultimate reality. According to the worldviews of both Gnostic Christianity and Buddhism that the film evokes, the realization of ultimate reality involves a complete freedom from the material realm and offers peace of mind. The Wachowskis themselves acknowledge that it is "ironic that Morpheus and his crew are completely dependent upon technology and computers, the very evils against which they are fighting."55 Indeed, the film’s very existence depends upon both technology’s capabilities and Hollywood’s hunger for violence. Negating itself, The Matrix teaches that nirvana is still beyond our reach.

Concluding Remarks

[38] Whether we view the film from a Gnostic Christian or Buddhist perspective, the overwhelming message seems to be, "Wake up!" The point is made explicit in the final song of the film, Wake Up!, by, appropriately, Rage Against the Machine. Gnosticism, Buddhism and the film all agree that ignorance enslaves us in an illusory material world and that liberation comes through enlightenment with the aid of a teacher or guide figure. However, when we ask the question, "To what do we awaken?", the film appears to diverge sharply from Gnosticism and Buddhism. Both of these traditions maintain that when humans awaken, they leave behind the material world. The Gnostic ascends at death to the pleroma, the divine plane of spiritual, non-material existence, and the enlightened one in Buddhism achieves nirvana, a state which cannot be described in language, but which is utterly non-material. By contrast, the "desert of the real," is a wholly material, technological world, in which robots grow humans for energy, Neo can learn martial arts in seconds through a socket inserted into the back of his brain, and technology battles technology (Nebuchadnezzar vs. A.I., electromagnetic pulse vs. sentinels). Moreover, the battle against the matrix is itself made possible through technology - cell phones, computers, software training programs. "Waking up" in the film is leaving behind the matrix and awakening to a dismal cyber-world, which is the real material world.

[39] Or perhaps not. There are several cinematic clues in the scene of the construct loading program (represented by white space) that suggest that the "desert of the real" Morpheus shows Neo may not be the ultimate reality. After all, Morpheus, whose name is taken from the god of dreams, shows the "real" world to Neo, who never directly views the surface world himself. Rather, he sees it on a television bearing the logo "Deep Image." Throughout the film, reflections in mirrors and Morpheus' glasses, as well as images on television monitors point the viewer toward consideration of multiple levels of illusion.56 As the camera zooms in to the picture on this particular television and the viewer "enters" the image, it "morphs" the way the surveillance screens do early in the film, indicating its unreality. In addition, the entire episode takes place while they stand in a construct loading program in which Neo is warned not to be tricked by appearances. Although sense perception is clearly not a reliable source for establishing reality, Morpheus himself admits that "For a long time I wouldn't believe it, and then I saw the fields [of humans grown for energy] with my own eyes... And standing there, I came to realize the obviousness of the truth." We will have to await the sequel to find out whether "the desert of the real" is itself real.57

[40] Even if the film series does not ultimately establish a complete rejection of the material realm, The Matrix as it stands still asserts the superiority of the human capacity for imagination and realization over the limited "intelligence" of technology. Whether stated in terms of matter/ spirit, body/ mind, hardware/ software or illusion/ truth, the ultimate message of The Matrix seems to be that there may be levels of metaphysical reality beyond what we can ordinarily perceive, and the film urges us to open ourselves to the possibility of awakening to them.

Notes

1. All unidentified quotes are from The Matrix (Warner Bros. release, 1999).

2. In an online chat with viewers of the DVD, the Wachowskis acknowledged that the Buddhist references in the film are purposeful. However, when asked "Have you ever been told that the Matrix has Gnostic overtones?", they gave a tantalizingly ambiguous reply: "Do you consider that to be a good thing?" From the Nov. 6, 1999 "Matrix Virtual Theatre," at "Wachowski chat".

3. Elaine Pagels notes that the similarities between Gnosticism and Buddhism have prompted some scholars to question their interdependence and to wonder whether "...if the names were changed, the 'living Buddha' appropriately could say what the Gospel of Thomas attributes to the living Jesus. " Although intriguing, she rightly maintains that the evidence is inconclusive, since parallel traditions may emerge in different cultures without direct influence. Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels, (New York: Random House, 1979, repr. 1989), xx-xxi

.4. James Ford recently explored other Buddhist elements in The Matrix, which he rightly calls a "modern myth," in his article "Buddhism, Christianity and The Matrix: The Dialectic of Myth-Making in Contemporary Cinema," for the Journal of Religion and Film, vol.4 no. 2. See also Conrad Ostwalt's focus on apocalyptic elements of the film in "Armageddon at the Millennial Dawn," JRF vol. 4, no. 1.

5. A viewer asked the Wachowski brothers, "Your movie has many and varied connections to myths and philosophies, Judeo-Christian, Egyptian, Arthurian, and Platonic, just to name those I've noticed. How much of that was intentional?" They replied, "All of it" (Wachowski chat).

6. Feminists critics can rejoice when Trinity first reveals her name to Neo, as he pointedly responds, "The Trinity?... Jesus, I thought you were a man." Her quick reply: "Most men do."

7. The Wachowski brothers indicate that the names were "all chosen carefully, and all of them have multiple meanings," and also note this applies to the numbers as well (Wachowski chat).

8. In a recent interview in Time, the Wachowskis refer to Nebuchadnezzar in this Danielic context, (www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,22971,00.html , "Popular Metaphysics," by Richard Corliss, Time, April 19, 1999 Vol. 153, no. 15). Nebuchadnezzar is also the Babylonian king who destroyed the Jerusalem Temple in 586 B.C.E., and who exiled the elite of Judean society to Babylon. Did the Wachowski brothers also intend the reference to point to the crew's "exile" from Zion or from the surface world?

9. The film also suggests Zion is heaven, such as when Tank says, "If the war was over tomorrow, Zion is where the party would be," evoking the traditional Christian schema of an apocalypse followed by life in heaven or paradise. Ironically, the film locates Zion "underground, near the earth's core, where it is still warm," which would seem to be a cinematic code for hell. Is this a clue that Zion is not the "heaven" we are led to believe it is?

10. Neo's apartment number is 101, symbolizing both computer code (written in 1's and 0's) and his role as "the One." Near the end of the film, 303 is the number of the apartment that he enters and exits in his death / resurrection scene, evoking the Trinity. This in turn raises questions about the character of Trinity's relationship to Neo in terms of her cinematic construction as divinity.

11. The traitor Cypher, who represents Judas Iscariot, among other figures, ironically says to Neo, "Man, you scared the B'Jesus outta me."

12. We would like to thank Donna Bowman, with whom we initially explored the Gnostic elements of The Matrix during a public lecture on film at Hendrix College in 2000.

13. Gnosticism may have had its origins in Judaism, despite its denigration of the Israelite God, but the issue is complex and still debated within scholarly circles. It is clear, however, that Gnostic Christianity flourished from at least the 2nd -5th c. C.E., with its own scriptures, and most likely also its own distinctive rituals, entrance requirements and a creation story. See Gershom Scholem, Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1960), Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Vintage Books, 1979, repr. 1989), Bentley Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures (New York: Doubleday, 1995), Kurt Rudolph, Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1987).

14. This corpus lay dormant for nearly 2000 years until its discovery in 1945 in Nag Hammadi, Egypt. The complete collection of texts may be found in James M. Robinson, ed. The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition, (New York: HarperCollins, 1990; reprint of original Brill edition, 1978). These documents are also available on-line at The Nag Hammadi Library Section of The Gnostic Society Library.

15. Gnostic texts are cryptic, and no single text clearly explains this myth from beginning to end. The literature presupposes familiarity with the myth, which must be reconstructed by modern readers. The version of the myth presented here relies on such texts as Gospel of Truth, Apocryphon of John, On the Origin of the World and Gospel of Thomas. See The Nag Hammadi Library, pp. 38-51, 104-123, 124-138, 170-189.

16. Since the divine beings are composed only of spiritual substances and not matter, there are no physical gender differences among the beings.

17. Depending on the text, a plethora of divine beings populate the pleroma, many with Jewish, Christian or philosophical names, e.g. the Spirit, forethought, thought, foreknowledge, indestructibility, truth, Christ, Autogenes, understanding, grace, perception, Pigera-Adamas (Apocryphon of John).

18. Humanity's characterization also resonates with the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11:1-9; in both we admire the work of our own hands.

19. The bulk of the following excerpt from the Gnostic "Gospel of Truth" might just as well be taken from the scenes in The Matrix in which Morpheus explains the nature of reality to Neo:

Thus they [ humans] were ignorant of the Father, he being the one whom they did not see... there were many illusions at work... and (there were) empty fictions, as if they were sunk in sleep and found themselves in disturbing dreams. Either (there is) a place to which they are fleeing, or without strength they come (from) having chased after others, or they are involved in striking blows, or they are receiving blows themselves, or they have fallen from high places, or they take off into the air though they do not even have wings. Again, sometimes (it is as) if people were murdering them, though there is no one even pursuing them, or they themselves are killing their neighbors...(but) When those who are going through all these things wake up, they see nothing, they who were in the midst of all these disturbances, for they are nothing. Such is the way of those who have cast ignorance aside from them like sleep, not esteeming it as anything, nor do they esteem its works as solid things either, but they leave them behind like a dream in the night... This is the way each one has acted, as though asleep at the time when he was ignorant. And this is the way he has [come to knowledge], as if he had awakened.
(Gospel of Truth, 29-30)

20. This is perhaps most evident in the subway fight between Neo and Agent Smith. At a point in the film when Morpheus says of Neo, "He is just beginning to believe," Agent Smith calls him "Mr. Anderson," and while fighting he replies, "My name is Neo." The Wachowskis confirm this interpretation when they state "Neo is Thomas Anderson's potential self" (Wachowski chat).

21. This twin tradition was especially popular in Syrian Christianity. See also Pagels, p. xxi, where she wonders if the tradition that Thomas, Jesus' twin, went to India points to any historical connection between Buddhism and Hinduism on the one hand and with Gnosticism on the other.

22. See the online chat with the special effects creators in the "Matrix Virtual Theater" from March 23, 2000.

23. Nag Hammadi Library, pp. 490-500. Compare the Gnostic idea of stillness with these Buddhist sayings from the Dhammapada: "The bhikku [monk], who abides in loving-kindness, who is delighted in the Teaching of the Buddha, attains the State of Calm, the happiness of stilling the conditioned things" and "Calm is the thought, calm the word and deed of him who, rightly knowing, is wholly freed, perfectly peaceful and equipoised. " Quoted in Walpola Sri Rahula, What the Buddha Taught (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1974) p.128, 136.

24. See Nag Hammadi Library, pp. 256-59. We are grateful to Brock Bakke for the initial equation of agents with archons.

25. In Gnosticism "Mind" or the Greek "nous" is a deity, such as in the text "Thunder, Perfect Mind," Nag Hammadi Library, 295-303.

26. Note that as Morpheus and Neo enter the elevator of the apartment building of the Oracle, images of "seeing" symbolize prophecy and knowledge: a blind man (evoking blind prophets such as Tiresias) sits in the lobby beneath some graffiti depicting a pair of eyes. Interestingly, the Oracle - a sibyl / seer - wears glasses to look at Neo's palm.

27. Note too the metonymic use of color to convey this dualism: black and white clothing, floors, furniture, etc.

28. Ostwalt, "Armageddon" in JRF Vol. 4, no. 1. The parallel with apocalypticism does not work quite as well as one with Gnosticism because like Gnosticism, the film understands salvation to be individual (rather than collective and occurring all at once), to be attained through knowledge, and most importantly to entail leaving behind the material earth (that is, not resulting in a kingdom of God made manifest on the earth).



http://www.viewfromthewall.com/matrixscreenplay.htm

29. The original screenplay is available online at www.geocities.com/Area51/Capsule/8448/. In its description, the Temple of Zion evokes both the Oracle of Delphi (three legged stool, priestesses) and the Jerusalem Temple (polished marble, empty throne which is the mercy seat or throne of the invisible God).

30. A viewer asked the Wachowski brothers, "What is the role or {sic} faith in the movie? Faith in oneself first and foremost – or in something else?" They answered, "Hmmmm¼that is a tough question! Faith in one's self, how's that for an answer?" This reply hardly settles the issue (Wachowski chat).

31. Specifically, these humans are Neo (the Gnostic Redeemer / Messiah) and Morpheus and Trinity, both of whom are named for gods. As a godhead, this trio does not quite make sense in terms of traditional Christianity. However, the trio is quite interesting in the context of Gnosticism, which portrays God as Father, Mother and Son, a trinity in which the Holy Spirit is identified as female, e.g. Apocryphon of John 2:9-14. For further reading on female divinities in Gnosticism, see Pagels, pp. 48-69.

32. The brothers explain, "There's something uniquely interesting about Buddhism and mathematics, particularly about quantum physics, and where they meet. That has fascinated us for a long time" (Wachowski chat). In the Time interview with Richard Corliss (see note 8), Larry Wachowski adds that they became fascinated "by the idea that math and theology are almost the same. They begin with a supposition you can derive a whole host of laws or rules from. And when you take all of them to the infinity point, you wind up at the same place: these unanswerable mysteries really become about personal perception. Neo's journey is affected by all these rules, all these people trying to tell him what the truth is. He doesn't accept anything until he gets to his own end point, his own rebirth." The film’s presentation of the matrix as a corporate network of human conceptions (or samsara) which are translated into software codes that reinforce one another illustrates this close relationship.

33. Stupa: a hemispherical or cylindrical mound or tower serving as a Buddhist shrine.

34. Of course, the most transparent reference to Buddhist ideas occurs in the waiting room at the oracle’s apartment, where Neo is introduced to the "Potentials." The screenplay describes the waiting room as "at once like a Buddhist temple and a kindergarten class." One of the children, clad in the garb of a Buddhist monk, explains to Neo the nature of ultimate reality: "There is no spoon." One cannot help wondering if this dictum only holds within the matrix or if there is in fact "no spoon" even in the real world beyond it.

35. Samyutta-nikaya IV, 54. In Edward Conze, ed. Buddhist Texts Through the Ages (New York: Philosophical Library, 1954), p. 91.

36. Samyutta-nikaya II, 64-65. Ibid.

37. The entire process depends upon human ignorance, so that almost all who are born into the matrix are doomed to be born, to die, and to re-enter the cycle again. When asked about the film’s depiction of the liquefaction of humans, the Wachowskis reply that this black ooze is "what they feed the people in the pods, the dead people are liquefied and fed to the living people in the pods." Tongue in Buddhist cheek, the brothers explain this re-embodiment: "Always recycle! It's a statement on recycling."38 Even in the "real world" beyond the matrix, the human plight is depicted as a relative and inter-dependent cycle of birth, death, and "recycling."

38. Wachowski chat.

39. This dialogue also points to the "reality" (or the "matrix") which we ourselves inhabit. In our world, and in the world of Joe Pantoliano, he is an actor. Therefore, the world of which both the actor Joe Pantoliano and we are now a part may be seen as the "matrix" into which he has been successfully re-inserted, and thus the film itself may be seen as a part of the software program of our own "matrix." The argument, of course, is seductively circular.

40. Take, for example, this quote from the Sabbasava-sutta: "A bhikku [monk], considering wisely, lives with his eyes restrained . . . Considering wisely, he lives with his ears restrained . . . with his nose restrained . . . with his tongue . . . with his body . . . with his mind restrained . . . a bhikku, considering wisely, makes use of his robes -- only to keep off cold, to keep off heat . . and to cover himself decently. Considering wisely, he makes use of food – neither for pleasure nor for excess . . . but only to support and sustain this body . . ." (Quoted in Rahula 103).

41. James Ford has argued that the film embodies in particular the Yogacara school of Buddhism. Instead of pointing to that which is absolutely different than the world as nirvana, Yogacarins point to the world itself, and through the processes enacted in meditation, come to the realization that "all things and thought are but Mind-only. The basis of all our illusions consists in that we regard the objectifications of our own mind as a world independent of that mind, which is really its source and substance" (Edward Conze, Buddhism. New York: Philosophical Library, 1959), p. 167. The matrix exists only in the minds of the human beings which inhabit it, so that in The Matrix, as in Yogacara, "The external world is really Mind itself" (p. 168). Yet a problem arises when one realizes that for the Yogacara school, the Mind is the ultimate reality, and therefore samsara and nirvana become identified. By contrast, the film insists on a distinction between samsara (the matrix) and nirvana (that which lies beyond it). Because The Matrix maintains a duality between the matrix and the realm beyond it, Yogacara is of limited help in making sense of the Buddhist elements in the film, nor is it helpful in supporting the idea that beyond the matrix and beyond the Nebuchadnezzar there is an ultimate reality not yet realized by humans (see note 4).

42. According to Theravada teachings, arhat ("Worthy One")is a title applied to those who achieve enlightenment. Because according to Theravada beliefs enlightenment can only be achieved through individual effort, an arhat is of limited aid in helping those not yet enlightened and so would not necessarily choose to re-enter samsara to aid others still enmeshed within it.

43. Rahula, p. 2.

44. Quoted in Rahula, 135.

45. Quoted in Rahula, 133.

46. A bodhisattva is one who postpones final entry into nirvana and willingly re-enters or remains in samsara in order to guide others along the path to enlightenment. The Buddha’s compassion serves as their primary model for Mahayana Buddhists, since they point out that he too remained in samsara in order to help others achieve enlightenment through his teachings and example.

47. The screenplay describes Neo as "floating in a womb-red amnion" in the power plant.

48. In the screenplay, Trinity does not kiss him but instead "pounds on his chest," precipitating his resuscitation. The screenplay states directly: "It is a miracle." This fourth "life" can be viewed as the one to which the oracle refers in her predictions that Neo was "waiting for something" and that he might be ready in his "next life, maybe." This certainly appears to be the case, since Neo rises from the dead and defeats the agents.

49. These four "lives" suggest that Neo is nothing other than the "One" foretold by the oracle, the reincarnation of the first "enlightened one," or Buddha, who "had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the matrix as he saw fit." Buddhist teaching allows that those who have been enlightened are endowed with magical powers, since they recognize the world as illusory and so can manipulate it at will. Yet supernatural powers are incidental to the primary goal, which is explained in the very first sermon spoken by the Buddha: "The Noble Truth of the cessation of suffering is this: It is the complete cessation of that very thirst, giving it up, renouncing it, emancipating oneself from it, detaching oneself from it"50

50. Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta. Quoted in Rahula, 93.

51. Buddhacarita 1:65. E. B. Cowell, trans., Buddhist Mahayana Texts, Sacred Books of the East, vol. 49 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1894).

52. See, for example, in the Dhammapada: "Of death are all afraid. Having made oneself the example, one should neither slay nor cause to slay" (Verse 129) (Dhammapada, trans. John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 35.

53. The idea that violence as salvific is made explicit by the writers. Whereas they could have chosen to present the "deaths" of the agents as of the same illusory quality as other elements within the software program, instead, they choose to depict actual humans really dying through the inhabitation of their "bodies" by the agents. This addition is completely unnecessary to the overall plot line; indeed, the "violence" which takes place in the Niko Hotel could still be portrayed, with the reassuring belief that any "deaths" which occur there are simply computer blips. The fact that the writers so purposefully insist that actual human beings die (i.e. die also within the power plant) while serving as involuntary "vessels" for the agents strongly argues for The Matrix’s direct association of violence with the knowledge required for salvation.

54. See the article by Bryan P. Stone, "Religion and Violence in Popular Film," JRF Vol. 3, no. 1.

55. When asked whether this irony were present, the Wachowskis reply abruptly but enthusiastically "Yes!" (Wachowski chat).

56. This is especially true in the "red pill/blue pill" scene where Neo first meets Morpheus, and Neo is reflected differently in each lens of Morpheus' glasses. The Wachowskis note that one reflection represents Thomas Anderson, and one represents Neo (Wachowski chat).

57. A viewer asked the pertinent question of the Wachowskis: "Do you believe that our world is in some way similar to "The Matrix," that there is a larger world outside of this existence?" They replied: "That is a larger question than you actually might think. We think the most important sort of fiction attempts to answer some of the big questions. One of the things that we had talked about when we first had the idea of The Matrix was an idea that I believe philosophy and religion and mathematics all try to answer. Which is, a reconciling between a natural world and another world that is perceived by our intellect" (Wachowski chat).

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http://nisargadatta.net/matrix.html

Within the prison of your world appears a man who tells you that the
world of painful contradictions, which you have created, is neither
continuous nor permanent and is based on a misapprehension. He
pleads with you to get out of it, by the same way by which you got
into it. You got into it by forgetting what you are and you will get
out of it by knowing yourself as you are.

I'm sure many have noticed the similarity between Eastern Sprituality, particularly "Advaita" (nonduality)
and the movie Matrix.

In Sanskrit language Advaita means "not two." For example, the above quote by the Advaita Vedanta Master
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj could have easily been used in the script by Neo's mentor Morpheus.

According to an interpretation of Advaita, the mind whether awake or dreaming moves through the illusion (maya=matrix?). Only consciousness is real. You are consciousness.

Nisargadatta's student Ramesh Balsekar explains the core of his Guru's teachings as "the knowledge of one's identity."Then how do you find out who you are?

The seeker is he who is in search of himself.

Give up all questions except one: "Who am I?" After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The "I am" is certain. The "I am this" is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality. To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not. Discover all that you are not--body, feelings, thoughts, time, space, this or that--nothing, concrete or abstract, which you perceive can be you. The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive. The clearer you understand that on the level of mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker will you come to the end of your search and realize that you are the limitless being.

When I met my Guru, he told me: "You are not what you take yourself to be. Find out what you are. Watch the sense 'I am', find your real Self." I obeyed him, because I trusted him. I did as he told me. All my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence. And what a difference it made, and how soon! My teacher told me to hold on to the sense 'I am' tenaciously and not to swerve from it even for a moment. I did my best to follow his advice and in a comparatively short time I realized within myself the truth of his teaching. All I did was to remember his teaching, his face, his words constantly. This brought an end to the mind; in the stillness of the mind I saw myself as I am -- unbound.
I simply followed (my teacher's) instruction which was to focus the mind on pure being 'I am', and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the 'I am' in my mind and soon peace and joy and a deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared -- myself, my Guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained and unfathomable silence. My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense 'I am' and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense 'I am', it may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked! Obedience is a powerful solvent of all desires and fears...

I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, I become the very thing I look at, and experience the kind of consciousness it has; I become the inner witness of the thing. I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness, love; you may give it any name you like. Love says "I am everything". Wisdom says "I am nothing". Between the two, my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both. --Nisargadatta Maharaj


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Two monks were watching a flag flapping in the wind. One said to the other, "The flag is moving."
The other replied, "The wind is moving."
Huineng overheard this. He said, "Not the flag, not the wind; mind is moving."

Of the two monks, Wumen says they were trying to buy iron; Huineng, out of compassion, gave them gold instead. This koan demonstrates the idea that in naming an object, one clouds one's understanding of its true nature. Fans of The Matrix may note the parallel here to the saying "there is no spoon ".

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