enter the matrix
Compilation, Annotatation, Revision: Shian:
What if reality was false and your nightmares were true?
Thomas Anderson begins suspecting these questions. Anderson is a young man trying
to live his life in the hustle and bustle of your typical modern day Metropolitan
City. But lately, he has plagued by a nightmare, a horrific dream of himself
being physically wired against his will into a vast futuristic computer system.
As the dreams continue, his life suddenly being taking a strange turn.
Is he really here in a present day city, or is he wired up with millions of
others into the massive 'Matrix' in the future- all blissfully unaware of where
they really are? If the latter is true, then how and why is he there? Who is
he really? Is everyone else around him trapped like he is, or are they just
computer projections? And most important of all- Who put him there and what
will they do if they realize he suspects the truth?
"The Matrix" is not inspired entirely
by Buddhist teachings.
Below are some apparent connections of this movie with the Buddhist teachings.
NEO: New, in a different way. Neo can also be rearranged to spell the word
"One". Neo in the movie is described as the One who will Awaken, similar to
being Enlightened, such that he will save all Mankind. Neo is akin to a disciple
to Morpheus, who is like is guru, initiating him into reality.
MORPHEUS: In Greek mythology, his name is that of the god of dreams, the son
of Somnus, god of sleep. Morpheus forms the dreams that come to those asleep.
He also represented human beings in dreams. Morpheus in the story plays a Buddha-like
fatherly figure to Neo, till he overtakes him in mastery of the Matrix.
Neo Meets Trinity
TRINITY: And when I found him (Morpheus), he told me I
wasn't really looking for him. I was looking for the answer. It is the question
that drives us. It is the question that brought you here. Do you know the
Morpheus is like a somewhat enlightened
and mysterious figure who knows more than most people. In this sense, similar
to the Buddha. All who seeked the Buddha discover that it is not Him per se
that they were really seeking. They were seeking the key to the Truth from Him.
The question that drives one to seek the enlightened is about ourselves and
the world we live in and what it means to us as an individual.
NEO: What is the Matrix?
TRINITY: The answer is out there. It is looking for you. And it will find
you if you want it to.
The Truth is always there- and all it
takes is for us to embrace and see it.
Neo Talks to his Boss
BOSS: Every single employee understands that they are a
part of the whole. Thus, when an employee has a problem, the company has a
This statement actually relates to the
nature of the Matrix, or rather, to the world (Samsara), where everything is
interdependent, each part affecting the others. This is a gist of the teaching
of Dependent Origination.
Trinity brings Neo to Morpheus
TRINITY: Let me give you one piece of advice, be honest,
he knows much more than you can possibly imagine.
Before those who know more, it is always
wise to be true, to be humble, or one will fail to learn. This is an attitude
that Buddhism encourages.
Neo Meets Morpheus
MORPHEUS: Do you believe in fate?
Because I just don't like the idea that I'm not in control
of my life.
MORPHEUS: I know exactly what you
Buddhism does not subscribe to the idea
that we do not have full control of our lives. While we are dealt a hand of
cards (by ourselves in the past), how we choose to play our cards now determine
whether we win the game.
MORPHEUS: We are trained in this world to accept only
what is rational and logical. Have you ever wondered why? As children, we do not
separate the possible from the impossible which is why the younger the mind is
the easier it is to free while a mind like yours can be very
NEO: Free from
MORPHEUS: From the Matrix. Do you want to
know what it is, Neo? It's that feeling you have had all your life. That feeling
that something was wrong with the world. You don't know what it is but it's
there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad, driving you to me. But
what is it? The Matrix is everywhere, it's all around us, here even in this
room. You can see it out your window, or on your television. You feel it when
you go to work, or go to church or pay your taxes. It is the world that has been
pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
The feeling is analogous to the nagging
feeling of dissatisfaction we have pervading our lives- the First Noble Truth.
NEO: What truth?
MORPHEUS: That you are a slave, Neo. That's you, like everyone else, was born
into bondage... kept inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste or touch.
A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is.
You have to see it for yourself. Remember that all I am offering is the truth.
The Matrix is analogous to Samsara in nature.
Neo Breaks Free of His Cocoon
When Neo woke up from his cocoon, he looked
around and discovered that there were thousands of other similar cocoons. It
is as if each of us is in a personalised prison (karma / Samsara) that feels
like home, living separate deluded realities linked by collective karma into
one "reality". His discharge from the system was like (re)birth from a womb,
where he was unplugged from from the "source" that had been sustaining him,
much like cutting of the umbilical cord. His painful and shocking experience
during the discharge is somewhat similar to birth pains of a child. His flowing
out is a parellel to him being a streamwinner, entering the stream of Truth.
Neo Wakes Up into the Real World
NEO: What is the Matrix?
MORPHEUS: Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real?
What if you were unable to wake from that dream, Neo? How would you know the
difference between the dream world and the real world?
What is real? Is a real nightmare or real
dream? How is the experience different from real life? Or is reality all in the
mind only, ultimately?
Neo Enters the Loading Program
MORPHEUS: This is the Construct. It is our loading
program. We can load anything from clothes, to weapons, to training simulations.
Anything we need. Sit down.
NEO: Right now, we're
inside a computer program?
MORPHEUS: Wild, isn't
NEO: This isn't real? Right now, we are inside
a computer program?
MORPHEUS: Is it really so hard
to believe? Your clothes are different. The plugs in your head and arms are
gone. Your hair has changed. Your appearance now is what we call a residual self
image. It is the mental projection of your digital self. What is real? How do
you define real? If you're talking about your senses, what you feel, taste,
smell, or see, then all you're talking about are electrical signals interpreted
by your brain...
(Turns on TV) This is the world as you know at the end of
the twentieth century. This world exists only as part of a neural-interactive
simulation that we call the Matrix...
NEO: I can't go back, can I?
We are tricked into believing the reality
our senses present. Once one has awakened to some aspect of reality, it is impossible
MORPHEUS: No, but if you could, would you really want
to? When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside that had the
ability to change what he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was
this man that freed the first of us and taught us the secret of the war; control
the Matrix and you control the future. When he died, the Oracle prophesized
his return and envisioned an end to the war and freedom for our people. That
is why there are those of us that have spent our entire lives searching the
Matrix, looking for him. As long as the Matrix exists, the human race will never
The "first" man to break free
is analogous to an ancient Buddha, who set the example of the possibility of
breaking free of Samsara with the power of understanding. The prophecy is analogous
to the prediction of a future Buddha's arrival. As long as Samsara (the embodiment
of the Three Poisons of Greed, Hatred and Ignorance) exists, all sentient beings
can never be free.
Neo Learns to Fight and Jumps Roofs
MORPHEUS: (Training dojo) Some of these rules can be
bent. Others can be broken. If you can break free your mind, the body will
follow. You have to learn to let go of that anger. You must let go of
everything. You must empty yourself to free your mind... If there are rules,
there are limitations. If there are none, there are no boundaries.
What are you waiting for? You are faster than this. Don't think you are- know
you are. Come on, stop trying to hit me and hit me...
(Top of roof) I'm trying to free your mind. But I can only show you the door.
You are the one that has to walk through it...
You have to let it all go -
Fear, Doubt and Disbelief. Free your mind...
These statements refer to the way our minds
trap ourselves, and the importance of setting it free, it being the source of
our true power, itself being all powerful if mastered and utilized correctly.
NEO: (Comes out of the training program, bleeding) I thought it wasn't real.
MORPHEUS: Your mind makes it real.
NEO: If you
killed in the Matrix, you die?
MORPHEUS: The body
cannot live without the mind.
Even if the mind is in illusory or
deluded state, it can still cause real harm or even death if not taken care of.
Thus, mastery of the mind is of utmost importance in Buddhism.
Neo Enters Another Program
MORPHEUS: The Matrix is a system. That system is our
enemy. When you are inside, you are inside, you look around and what do you see?
Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters - the very minds of the people you
are trying to save. But until you do, they are still a part of that system that
they will fight and to protect them.
Ordinary people's minds are who the enlightened
beings aspire to save. But as long as these beings are deluded, there is a chance
that they might pose as their "enemies", not understanding their intentions
to save them from delusion, which many are still comfortable in- to the extent
that they might die for their delusions.
MORPHEUS: If you are not one of us, you are one of them.
What are they? Sentinel programs. They can move in and out any software program
still hardwired to the system. This means that anyone that we haven't unplugged
is potentially an agent. Inside the Matrix, they are everyone and no one. We are
survived by hiding from them, running from them. But they are the gatekeepers
they are guarding all the doors and they are holding all the keys. Someday will
have to fight them.
If one is not enlightened, one is deluded-
there is nothing equivocal about this. Sentinel programs are analogous to "demons
of Mara", who can easily slip in and out anywhere in Samsara to confuse and
endanger the Wisdom Life of sentient beings. As long as sentient beings are
unenlightened, each of them has the possibility of manifesting anymore, even
if just for an instant, as the demons of Mara in terms of negative qualities
of Greed, Hatred and Ignorance. Thus, they can be everyone, yet to one in particular,
us all being "connected" to Samsara. We survive "attacks" from Mara by first
escaping them- but is a matter of time when we have to face them to win them
once and for all. Our personal demons are gatekeepers in the sense that only
when we conquer them with our understanding, do we have the key to Enlightenment
Cypher Talks to Agent Smith
CYPHER: (Pausing, he examines the meat skewered on his fork) You know, I know that this steak doesn't exist. I know when I put
it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious.
After nine years, do you know what I've realized? (He pops it in, eyes
rolling up, savoring the tender beef melting in his mouth) Ignorance is bliss. I don't want to remember nothing. Nothing! You
understand? And I want to be rich. Someone important. Like an actor. You can do
that, right? All right. You get my body back in a power plant, reinsert me into
the Matrix and I'll get you what you want.
Ignorance might seem to be bliss at
times. But it is a form of escapism and can never offer permanent bliss. An
illusion is after all, just an illusion. No matter how long it might be
sustained, it will end, bringing suffering. The nature of Samsara is such that
remaining in it as a deluded sentient being can never bring True Happiness.
Because of this, we all should be enlightened to the reality of all
Mouse Talks to Neo
MOUSE: To deny our impulses is to deny the very thing
that makes us human.
Human beings have noble and base impulses-
it is the following of our noble aspirations that make us great, that bring
forth Enlightenment; not vice versa.
The Psychic Boy Talks to Neo
BOY: Do not try to bend the spoon. There is no spoon.
Instead, only try to realize the truth, that there is no spoon. Then you would
see that is not the spoon that bends- it is only yourself.
This is a way of teaching the oneness of
all things with our mind that relates to all in perfect synchronized harmony.
It also reminds us of the Sixth Zen Patriarch Huineng's teaching that it is
neither the flag nor wind that moves, but the mind.
The Oracle Talks to Neo
ORACLE: Being the One is like being in love. No one can
tell you are in love- you just know it. Through and through...
Being destined for Enlightenment or being
an Enlightened One is something that one knows beyond all
ORACLE: You got the gift- but you are waiting. Your next
life maybe. That's the way these things go.
We all can be the One, as in Enlightened
Ones, as we all possess the perfect Buddha-nature, or potential to be Buddhas.
However, we procrastinate our spiritual advancement again and again, life after
Agent Smith Talks to Morpheus
AGENT SMITH: Every mammal on this planet instinctively
develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment. But you humans
do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural
resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another
area... There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern.
Do you know what it is? A virus.
This reminds us of the Buddha's teaching
that all life on Earth is interdependent. Thus, we should live as one, in balance,
according to the Middle Path. When step off the Middle Path our of Greed, we
are in conflict with our own nature and nature, us becoming a threat to the
planet- to other humans, the environment and ourselves.
Neo Saves the Day
When Neo resurrected from his death, it
was as if he underwent a higher spiritual rebirth, realising the full the power
of his mind, becoming "fully Enlightened". He saw the Matrix in its underlying
digital reality, akin to having attained penetrating insight into the true nature
of all things. With that, he had total control of his environment, stopping
bullets coming at him, morphing the walkway, subduing the agents...