The Matrix Resurrections and The Desert of the Unreal
The Matrix Resurrections and The Desert of the Unreal: A Philosophical Review
Somewhere in a shop in the matrix world:
[Bugs] It’s not something I can explain easily, but… But the moment he looked at me, I felt something… unlock my mind.
[agent] Okay. Something like that happened to me. I saw this pattern… and it was everywhere. We can’t see it, but we’re all trapped inside these strange, repeating loops. Somehow I saw it in the mirror. Just a flicker, but it was like you said. And suddenly I understood.
[B] This is not the real world.
[agent] For the first time, I felt real purpose. I knew who I was and what I had to do.
What follows in not a movie review in the usual sense – there are plenty of those out there if you want them – but a probing into underlying themes and ideas, and where they lead. In fact, these themes are not unique to the Resurrections, but underly the entire series, and seeing this latest installment was merely a spur to scribble down some contemplative thoughts in response. I hope you enjoy it … please take the time to carefully ponder some of the things said here, as they are not easy, though very simple in essence, really.
The Matrix as a Metaphor
There are many ways the metaphor of the matrix can be taken: as analogous to the matrix of unconscious thinking, such as in the way conditioning of the family is a deep dark demon seeming to control us (both from from within and without), or as a pointer to political control and the liberation therefrom. It could also be seen as the – perhaps more obvious – allusion to modern culture’s corrupting power or ability to overrule our (supposed) better collective human instincts, via pulling us into a fragmented virtual world. That simulated computer world is one where where our minds, values and sense of self are sucked into an inhuman imposed reality forced on us via a high technology – a technology so developed as to be have it’s own will and intelligence (one that is out of human control).
So the story is compelling – even without the groundbreaking visuals and special effects of the first of the series – so intensely does it tap into our uneasiness, not only about technology but about our inner selves and our social selves, and what the future holds for us collectively and individually.
Maya and the Matrix
However, there is one thread that carries through the matrix movies, a powerful metaphor, one that has the potential to “awaken us from our slumber”, to paraphrase the great philosopher Rene Descartes. That ‘slumber’ is the one of believing what the mind presents as reality, is real. Seeing beyond this illusion of perception is the Holy Grail of both the Matrix stories and of our human experience. In the Matrix movies, it is embodied as a rebellion and an inspired quest to escape a computer simulation into the “real world” that was left behind unwittingly; in human experience it is to see beyond the illusion of Maya, illusion, to our true nature, the reality of awareness itself. Once a glimpse of either of these realities occurs in experience, there is no going back.
This metaphor and idea is found not only in the story of these movies and in the seminal writing of the philosopher Rene Descartes, but also in Eastern philosophies such as Advaita vedanta, a formerly secret teaching in ancient times that was an offshoot of Hinduism. The metaphor is that life is akin to a dream, an illusion, one created by something we can learned of, have ideas of, intellectual clarity about, and even intimations of, but can only truly know through direct experience. The dream is akin to a simulation. It matters not the nature of the dream, simulation or illusion, whether it is one created by our own minds in the form of a night dream or waking hallucination, or by our own brains as they sit in a vat in a laboratory, or by fake perceptions created by an evil genius, or by the illusionary constructions of a vast computer game of which we are a mere character, an avatar: they all point to the same undeniable question.
How do we know what is real, if all that we know is only what the mind presents to us? What is really, ultimately real, at bottom? When it is admitted and seen that all one can know is experience, them no matter what we see, hear, taste, smell, sense and feel with the body or think with the mind, such fleeting contents are subject to doubt and uncertainty. Not only is it uncertain what is ultimately behind them, but they are also changeable and open to revision. We will always be seeing new things, feeling new things, thinking new things … in essence a death at every moment.
Jumping from the Plane of the Real
Where’s the solid ground? What’s really real? Even for materialists, the brain seems to be completely subject to cause and effect, as every action by every neuron or other part of us is controlled by some previous cause, all the way back in time to the origin of the universe, and all the way outward in space, and inward into the atoms and subatomic particles in matter. In the world of physics, the greatest physicists in the world can’t find anything solid: just a vacuum with vibrations dancing seeming “particles” to life, described by mathematical equations dreamed up by … who?
It is a mind-bending idea: that is of life experience being in fact a simulation, an unreal but seemingly tangible phantasm, one created by unseen forces that may or may not be malevolent. What most viewers of the movie series may not be aware of is that this idea is not new at all, but was presented in the 17th century by the seminal philosopher Rene Decartes in what is considered to be one of the most interesting, if not pivotal works in the Western philosophical tradition, the “Meditations on First Philosophy” of 1641.
In Meditations on First Philosophy Descartes, in his attempt to dig down within himself to what can be known for certain regarding experience and reality, proposes a thought experiment. It is one that has the potential to take us deeper, if it’s power is tapped into:
“I shall then suppose, not that God who is supremely good and the fountain of truth, but some evil genius not less powerful than deceitful, has employed his whole energies in deceiving me; I shall consider that the heavens, the earth, colours, figures, sound, and all other external things are nought but the illusions and dreams of which this genius has availed himself in order to lay traps for my credulity; I shall consider myself as having no hands, no eyes, no flesh, no blood, nor any senses, yet falsely believing myself to possess all these things; I shall remain obstinately attached to this idea, and if by this means it is not in my power to arrive at the knowledge of any truth, I may at least do what is in my power [i.e. suspend my judgment], and with firm purpose avoid giving credence to any false thing, or being imposed upon by this arch deceiver, however powerful and deceptive he may be. But this task is a laborious one, and insensibly a certain lassitude leads me into the course of my ordinary life. And just as a captive who in sleep enjoys an imaginary liberty, when he begins to suspect that his liberty is but a dream, fears to awaken, and conspires with these agreeable illusions that the deception may be prolonged, so insensibly of my own accord I fall back into my former opinions, and I dread awakening from this slumber, lest the laborious wakefulness which would follow the tranquillity of this repose should have to be spent not in daylight, but in the excessive darkness of the difficulties which have just been discussed.”
Elizabeth S. Haldane translation, 1911
I recently encountered a modern version of the character and perception as unreal perceptions in a computer illusion, when a teacher on Advaita (also known as non-duality), Francis Lucille, fielded a question from a student:
Student: “Consciousness is allowing for ignorance through this human tool – is consciousness actually – is trying to get rid of this thought, is questioning this thought, here I am … ‘
F: Let’s take the metaphor, let’s take it as a video game, right? And you are the one playing the video game, and in the game there are avatars, right? And in order to play – because you are alone, and you don’t have other people online to play the computer game with you – you replace that with the ability while you are playing with one avatar to simultaneously forget that you are playing with the other avatars. This ability is not ‘ignorance’. This ability is called ‘maya’ – it’s different from ignorance, OK? But maya is a necessary condition for ignorance, it’s not sufficient. It’s a prerequisite for ignorance but it’s not sufficient. So, you create maya. So Maya is this video game with this simultaneous forgetting ability which is similar to the ability you have in your mind, in your dream, to forget that you are creating the dream as you are enjoying it, OK? So here you are simultaneously the game playing through all the avatars, but forgetting simultaneously. OK.
S: OK, so I am viewing this avatar experiencing thoughts? Or, thoughts are just happening?
F: What I forgot to say, is that the prize of the game is not in the game. It’s a special game. Because the prize of the game is not to kill all the other avatars, to dominate them, to conquer… no the prize of the game is very different – is for the avatar to discover, through the avatar who is the Master of the game. At the same time there might be avatars there, who know, who is the Master of the game. And so the avatars interact with each other. OK.
S: OK so then, basically then, it makes sense to say ‘thoughts are happening, bodily sensations are happening’, and let them happen.
F: Do you have a choice?
S: You know this whole thing about feeling, right?
F: They are more thoughts, right? Because I said do you have the choice to let or not let, right?
S: Agreed. So then I was thinking I don’t need to go explore a feeling, because I can just let it be. The sensation, or the thought, because it’s just happening in Consciousness.
F: You don’t need to do anything. You don’t need to explore, but you don’t need not to explore.
S: Because when the exploration is happening, it seems like it becomes so local. If I am the space…
F: In order to discover whether the Master of the game is local, of course we need to do a local exploration. If a local exploration doesn’t deliver a local master of the game, then the belief that the master of the game is local has to be suspended.
S: OK, so I’m still caught up in trying to eliminate the master being local?
F: (pause) Yes. Remember, the only creator of the thoughts, the only decider, and the only agent, is the one who is playing the game. The rest is mechanical, electronics, right? And so the Master of the game, going to the game, but when he’s in an ignorant avatar, ignorant avatar, meaning this avatar ignores who the Master of the game is, so then he believes he is his own master of the avatar, right?, but not being Master of the game. And he has to find out whether the master of the avatar is local, and the master of the avatar has thoughts, and he seems to decide the thoughts and seems to interact in the game. So he seems to have limited, but genuine freedom. Limited freedom, but genuine freedom. So he has to discover that even the limited freedom he seems to have on the local level, he doesn’t have. But, that the freedom he feels, the sense of freedom he feels is because, at the level of the Master of the game he is free. So it is true at the level of the Master, he’s playing the game, so the thoughts are his, but they are not the thoughts of the avatar. They are never… the thoughts are like everything else in the game, the creation of the Master of the game.
What is interesting is the other avatars in it who know, so he ask them questions and interact with them. So that is the way out of the game, you see? – one of the ways.
S: Hence my questions (laughter). I love this metaphor. It makes a lot of sense for me. So then I am actually, right now, trying to be the master of this avatar itself, and I have to figure out that there is no master, the master doesn’t even exist, and there’s only a Master of the game.
F: Yes. (pause) When the Master of the game chooses to play from the vantage of this avatar – although in fact he’s also playing simultaneously the others – but when he chooses he forgets that he’s playing the others so that he can enjoy the interactions. But, even so, as he goes into an avatar, which is maya, he can play the game in two modes: in the Ignorant Mode or in the Wise Mode. And this freedom to switch from one mode to another is his, as Master of the game. So that, when he is in the game, identified with one avatar, and he meets another avatar who tells him that, in fact, he has the choice. The switch is yours. In this moment you can switch. And he says, ‘Well but, where is the switch?’ And the answer is, ‘Well actually, you don’t need to switch, you simply need to un-switch. Because the switch that takes you into ignorance, you have switched it on. So the un-switching of it is your understanding.
But in this game, as far as you can tell, there is no reason for you to believe that the master of the game is local. There is nothing that compels you to believe that the perceiving is done by one of the avatars. Because each avatar is just some code in the computer. Each avatar doesn’t perceive anything. Just code playing.
Well any metaphor has its own limitation. One model, we suck the nutrients out of it and then we throw it in the basket (chuckles).”
The Inversion of Truth and the Desert of the Unreal
“The voice of the devil says ‘so what’. ”
~ Sam Harris interviews Richard Lang from The Headless Way
What’s fascinating about these movies, philosophically speaking, is that they manage a clever inversion of truth. By this I mean, rather than seeing what the metaphor is potentially pointing to – as a lever to open our minds to the direct and undeniable fact of the reality of awareness and existence – it is used in a different direction. This other direction is what is explored below. To simplify the discussion, I’ll call it the Matrix-Simulation / Maya / Dream metaphor, or just the Dream Metaphor.
A clue to what’s going on philosophically speaking – the conceptual assumptions that underpin and drive the stories (“the unexamined life is not worth living”) – is in the three books that the writers of the movie, Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski gave as required reading to some of the actors: “Simulacra and Simulation” by Jean Baudrillard, “Out of Control” by Kevin Kelly, and “Introducing Evolutionary Psychology” by Dylan Evans.
The phrase “the desert of the real” is taken directly out of Baudrillard’s work. Marxist, existentialist, postmodern and most other modern flavors of academic philosophical writers like Baudrillard (and Aziz Ali Dad, who has taken up the same cause) see the world through a lens that restricts what can be seen to the dogma of indirect and phenomenal knowledge. Feeling the insecurity of their position compared to the growing power of science and technology in the world, and loss of faith in religion, they tow the line set down by Kant, that knowledge is only via “representations”, or worse, “narrative”. And yet there is an unquestioned assumption of a simple-minded objectivity; somehow a given, concrete, material reality out there, independent from the knowing of it. This is a crude and ignorant interpretation of science (that should have died with positivism). Virtual words and social media, and the freedoms associated with it, are seen as a threat. They see it as a pulling away from the collective, the political soul, towards the individualized (“personal’), and a fake self developing, detached from the unconscious freudian inner world and from the outer political world ‘soul’ as it were.
Let’s take the example of Marxism (after all, there is a lot of socialist sympathy in Hollywood): it is at heart a materialist philosophy. It takes as real an independent external existence, and humans as products of circumstances. In this backwards, horse-before-the-cart view, awareness would be seen as a product of that world, rather than what our actual direct, real experience is.
“For Marx and Engels, materialism meant that the material world, perceptible to the senses, has objective reality independent of mind or spirit. They did not deny the reality of mental or spiritual processes but affirmed that ideas could arise, therefore, only as products and reflections of material conditions.”
Our actual experience is that the world, body and mind appear in awareness. But this is overwritten and overruled by beliefs and fears, which impose an artificial constraint, an unnatural, learned filter on what is known directly in experience. The heaviness of this shroud is like the characters in the pods in the matrix, transfixed and hypnotized by the world, pleasures and pains, fears and desires, and only able to cast it off by a near miracle of intervention via an oracle, or transcendent figure of the Jesus-like “the One” (Neo).
“…the principles must be inferred from the events.” This is an outside-in philosophy, that sets up by or through an opposition to idealism, thus painting itself into a dualistic corner. But both idealism and realism are limited, as they are mere positions, when in humility of wisdom we see the human mind is incredibly limited, and we don’t know much looking through a keyhole of human perception. This is why real intelligence, having a glimpse of what that is, is so important. But being an experience, it can only be pointed towards or hinted at by words.
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of the ten thousand things. …
One of the most, if not the most, key and important discriminations to make in all of philosophy, is to understand the difference between mind and consciousness – which almost all modern philosophers since Kant failed to make. Few see this fundamental difference, and the confusion and conflation is seen throughout the culture, in science, Western academic philosophy, psychology, AI research, cognitive science, popular culture, magazine articles, and so on… and in the movies and science fiction. Thus we see the bizarre idea frequently in movies that by having the right programming, a robot could “awaken” and be “conscious”, and also that having or being aware of feelings is a sign of sentience. In other words, with the right mind, the right arrangement of mental contents, the right processing through time, one could go from parts to whole, from bits and symbols and mechanics in time to consciousness. It’s simply not true.
The stupidity of seeing nature only through concepts, therefore as a mere concept, and awareness (which is also natural and the fundamental reality behind nature) as a concept or construction (and everything is change, based in matter) can be opened to view if one considers what one actually knows for certain. Ironically, this is the very kind of examination that Descartes undertakes in Meditation on First Philosophy, and the same theme, or question, that the Matrix movies potentially opens up.
To see more clearly the “inversion” as I am calling it, and the backwards worldview of the Matrix, as well as Baudrillard and similar philosophers (not to mention Marxism itself), there are many ways (both conceptual and experiential) one could ponder the Meditations of Descartes, and the central question raised by The Matrix.
To see the upside down and backwards worldview of the Matrix, consider these two statements about about the Dream Metaphor, perception and reality:
1. We can’t be certain this phenomenal, perceptual world I am experiencing now is real, therefore nothing is real except the material world.
2. I can’t be certain this phenomenal, perceptual world I am experiencing now is real, so question the validity of it universally and seek to see and understand what is directly true and always certain in my experience.
One can see that #1 is incoherent, for the following reason: it already assumes within the question itself what it is trying to examine, the nature of reality, and therefore is circular and useless for helping us discover reality and truth, or anything really. It is caveman philosophy: the meat tells us what we are, and the world is concrete. But in truth, nothing of bodily sensation, thoughts or perceptions will tell us what we are. And, the best physicists tells us reality is empty.
Rather than pointing beyond Avidya (ignorance) and Maya (illusion) the Matrix analogy is used to reinforce the assumption that the duality of mind and matter is it, the choice to be made, what there is, and what’s at stake – in other words the prejudices and conditioning of the culture from which it arose. So on the one hand, one can be caught up in the mind matrix, the dream, or escape into the real world of matter. It is an amazing bit of irony that the very metaphor, the very tool that could be liberating if understood correctly, is inverted so as to support itself and reinforce the illusion it could potentially be liberating us from! In other words, the delusion that mental perception, the contents of mind, represent reality, which is what Descartes was potentially bringing into question with his evil demon, and what Eastern religions highlight with the dream metaphor, is only seen as holding true in the matrix computer simulation world, and not in the supposed “real world” they escape out into. This is as thickheaded as the layers of delusion and conditioning we are all embedded in. Indeed the real “matrix” is obviously human conditioning: the belief and feeling of being separate, that starts with our social programming after birth and continues into adulthood, and doesn’t end until either we have an awakening (a glimpse, what is called “enlightenment”), through suffering, through grace and interest, or when the body dies. However it happens, all beings know at some level that happiness is their true nature, thus seek it in countless forms, consciously or unconsciously.
If you see that as a separate individual “there’s nothing you can do” – that everything is subject to cause and effect, nature and nurture, at every moment – what does one conclude? Does it result in despair, resignation, escape, or a fight?
Rather than the dark vision of the Matrix, fun as the fantasy and visuals are at times, what of a pointing to a more beautiful vision, one that recognizes the gallery of the Real rather than the desert of the unreal?
We have to face the fact that nothing (no content) within awareness can tell us anything about awareness, other than awareness itself. But it is frightening to let go of our comfortable old shoes, even if they make us miserable. We enjoy our misery.
The Matrix and Nihilism
Baudrillard was also fond of nihilism. While admittedly fashionable, it can be easily seen thorough if we look at the structure of it. Nihilism is making a positive claim, one of negativity. It claims to know something – that life is meaningless – and therefore contradicts itself. What gives the statement “life is meaningless” any meaning? The answer is that which gives anything meaning, and which Spinoza knew and called “substance: Reality-Consciousness. Otherwise it would be impossible for two separate entities to communicate, share meaning, or understand, unless there is an underlying reality. How many are willing to look at that logically and deeply – for the real source of meaning? Very very few. It is a vanishingly rare jewel that is hidden beneath …
Indeed, most would rather wrap themselves in a fashionable shroud of pseudo-philosophical garments. It’s the similar to a member of a group saying “we believe in nothing”, which itself is a belief, and one used as a shield covering over a large pile of beliefs that have not been fully examined, but perhaps only partly so, never getting to the bottom of the pile. It’s merely thrown on the top of the pile, like a tarp is thrown over a pile of garbage without throwing it away, or a New Age or self-help believer being “positive”, in effect smashing a fresh orange on top of a bowl of moldy ones.
This arrogance, or dishonesty, depending on how one wants to look at it, may not be obvious at first glance. But some evidence may be seen in the attempt at compensations – seeking happiness in externals, the insecure defense of beliefs one has inner doubts about, and the oscillation between temporary states of enjoyment with ones of depression or despair. It is an unstable pile, naturally, because the owner of the pile is not aware (or not aware enough) of what it all rests on, since they keep mistaking parts of the pile, or it’s covering, for what underlies it all. How can one see the ground when one is always focused elsewhere, outwardly, and identifying with, valuing, being interested in exclusively, and holding onto what is not real in the long run? All mind content eventually disintegrates into the ground, therefore is not a substantial foundation to build on. Even if you keep renewing the pile, it remains unstable.
One can see the inconsistency if you ask, who is the one that gives meaning? Who is the one who gives meaning and the one who is aware of this? It’s a very strange card trick to say life has no meaning but at the same time say one is not aware of it. Either you are aware or not. There is no in-between: you cannot be half pregnant. Read that sentence again: It’s a very strange card trick to say life has no meaning but at the same time say one is not aware of it.
Being aware is not an intellectual proposition. It is a fact, now, of experience. If you are aware of this sentence, you are aware. Full stop. It is open to see, and it’s not like one has to go through some complicated reasoning process to get to, to see. in fact the more you think about it, the less you see, except that you’re thinking. But the whole time you are thinking, identifying with the activity, the contents of awareness. This is OK though, since awareness never blinks. Awareness never dies. It never goes to sleep. The simulation runs day and night, it’s just that at times the movie the game being played is “I am sleeping” or “I am unconscious” or “I am this thinking, this object, this body, this game of war…” and on and on.
The other amazing thing about this is how simple it is, how ever-available, yet how easily glossed over, missed and resisted.
Free Will and The Matrix of Identity: Will the Real Character Please Stand up
“Free will is an illusion”, as one of the characters says at one point, is clearly true within the simulated world of the Matrix, where, if one is identified as one of the characters, then there is no way of knowing if one thoughts, decisions and actions are one’s own. They could at any time be revealed to all have been part of the program or the plan of the programmer (such as the Architect, or the Therapist). However, the answer or view of the “real” world are a bit more murky and ambiguous in the movie’s world. Where is the freedom in the material world for the characters in the movie, once out of the matrix? One can see the influence of the social “desert of the real” view and the Hegelian, Marxist view that freedom has more to do with social revolution, a freedom that’s really only for a collective soul so to speak, and not for or within what’s seen as a real separate entity. Its dialectical evolution or narrative development will deliver it, and not from any inherent freedom in that concept of “reality”. Further, this murkiness is covered over with the emotional candy of a Hollywood romance as the answer: a different kind of socially-derived solution, but one infused with it’s own inevitableness, where there is the assumption of a soulmate, a destiny, determined by an outside-in social love.
Going to what the matrix dream metaphor is pointing to, let us ponder the dualism. What do we actually experience in making decisions (and giving meaning)? The one who decides and the one who is aware: are they the same, experientially? You could claim that as an experience, you are not aware of the deciding (or meaning-giving ) moment, just as some external demon is supposedly controlling and deciding them. But wait: is there really an experience of two different identities, or one? Is it like a person with multiple personalities, or two different computer programs, one that decides (or gives meaning), and one that perceives the decision? If you claim to experience the two, then who or what is aware that there are those two, the decider and a perceiver? Are you making that wild claim or not? If you don’t you make the claim from experience, it’s bullshit, mere concepts. You can’t at the same time say you have the experience of a separate decider and meaning-giver, and of a perceiver, and say you don’t have the experience. It’s talking out of two sides of your mouth. If you are merely revisiting what you thought afterwards, in the past, it is not it.
You cannot make the claim – which leads to desperation, despair: “OK, I am powerless, I am not the one who chooses… but I am the one who perceives and who suffers”. That’s the inconsistency: if you are the one who chooses, you are the one who perceives. Then, the one who chooses and the one who perceives are the same. In other words everything you perceive you choose and everything you choose you perceive. So then why do we complain? This freedom is what, oddly enough, we don’t want to discover, because we want to remain as a separate individual.
Wherefore Real Freedom?
Yet we do have a sense of freedom at some level, inside.
We don’t want discover, or look at, from thinking about and contemplating it, that we are powerless as a separate decider to choose our thoughts – as a body, a mere program in the matrix, a limited entity subject to cause and effect – instead we desperately want to maintain the separation. We do this in thinking “Well, I may not choose my thoughts and decisions, it may be a nasty god who chooses everything for me: the weather, the family, the society … and the thoughts and the decisions and feelings. And I am the poor victim, or the rebel, who has to live with that. In contrast, to be consistent and honest, if you are the one who chooses you are the one who has to live with that. That’s why there is “justice” per se.
But, there is the other way to look at it: this sense of freedom we have, that we can choose our decision, is true. It is exactly as true as the sense we have that we are the one who perceives. That is true also. What is not true is that the one who perceives is limited and dependent upon the body and can be affected by things, by events. That’s the mistake we make. The body can be affected, the mind can be affected, but the reality of the mind and of the body cannot. Meaning, our reality cannot be affected.
The one who the feeling separate is not separate, the one who is perceiving feeling, the thoughts, the decisions, the body is not separate. The one who is perceiving the mind is not the mind.
We may search for the origin of the mistake – in the past, when it happened as a personal “me”, or in society, or in psychology, or in the imposed matrix – but it’s a waste of time because all of this is after-the-fact. All we need to find is that it has happened, because it happens before we can find when. When we find that it has happened, that is the moment of freedom. It’s never too late to fix a mistake of this nature. But then we want to perpetuate the mistake by seeing when it happened (or who). Just see that it happened. That’s enough… and question the truth of it.
The best way not to make the mistake when is not to make the mistake now. Because If I think that I am the one who can make the mistake again, and I am trying to buy some insurance that I am not going to make the mistake again, I am already making the mistake. Because at that moment I am forgetting my freedom, including my freedom to make mistakes.
So as strange as it may sound to say, ignorance is the fruit of our freedom. Tossing it away is also the fruit of our freedom. It is like going into the Matrix movie – you are free to go on and free to get out of it – but once you have gone in, you may have to go for the ride for a while. So enjoy the ride. But the suffering and mistakes are always related to who we believe to be: thinking, believing, feeling to be separate, only reproduces the mistake by assuming there is the separate me making the mistake, being ignorant, being un-free. “Poor me”. A me who must fight and struggle and be a victim of society, or go along with it, or with it whatever. Be for or against. Who is there to do that?
The habit of bullshitting ourselves, conning ourselves with excuses to maintain habits, can be very strong, and is reinforced in society, culture, family, etc. This is the matrix of the mind, which is full of ideas inherited from outside, that are not true to our innermost experience and knowing in the heart, in the silence.
What is aware of the thought is already there, is here, before the thought arises, when the thought is here, and when it disappears (death of thought). Otherwise one could not be aware of a thought. This simple fact shows that awareness is more fundamental, solid, and real than mind – thought being any decision (which are thoughts) and any meaning (which is also thought, or rather, the meaning given to a thought or thoughts). This fact is so simple it can be hard for intellectuals – or for the psychologically stubborn, the conditioned personality, the fake entity we are clinging to for dear life and defending, the machine city in the Matrix maintaining itself as a seemingly separate entity – to see, and impossible for the mind to grasp. Further, any understanding cannot be in the thought itself: thoughts do not think or understand. The moment of understanding, experientially, happens suddenly, in an instant, and is new. There is a gap, from the thought before, to the new thought. In that gap is no thought, but there is awareness.
The Matrix movie series here is just a lens to see something more interesting and solid. Put simply, the real world is awareness, and the matrix world is illusion (the mind, maya, or “ego” in common parlance). Awareness is what everything appears in and is made of in reality, and the Matrix world can only sustain itself as being real, defending, maintaining and building an illusion, through great effort and conflict. This is a much more clear, simple, beautiful and sustainable meaning and understanding than any nihilist, post-modern, critical theory, or marxist theory can ever provide. I would however not hold out any vain hope that the Wachowskis will ever abandoned their leaky war vessel for something [nicer and more] awakened, since they not only would have to be enlightened enough to see it, but be risk-taking (seemingly) enough to make such a bold move to go beyond the cash-cow of the current franchise’s rotten yet fashionable foundations.
The Gallery of the Real
In truth, we are enjoying the identification, being as-if in the matrix… we don’t want to give up the attachment, the slumber.
We are inherently free but we are choosing to live in a dramatic fashion, fighting our demons, to not live to the fullest; in fact we are still living to the fullest now but don’t know it. Don’t be what you think you are.
Be the Unknown. 🙂
Last night, in the gallery of Reality
I saw a portrait I will never forget:
The Beloved was stirring a pot
With a spoon the size of a universe
And when He lifted it
I saw this whole world and its affairs
Were not even a floating speck of a barley
Before the radiance of two diamonds
That were His brilliant cheeks! ”
Leave a Comment