— Discern Its Light & Dark Elements
Call it a Gnostic story, a Buddhist story, a Christian story, a Platonic story, or a New Age story, the 1999 movie, The Matrix, tells an age-old story in the new language of Digital Age, a timely allegory about the awakening of human consciousness.
Having been around for two decades, The Matrix movie still ranks #1 on the list of movies people refer to in exposing an invisible global prison system, and “the Matrix” the #1 metaphor used. The evergreen movie continues to aid our spiritual awakening now. The evergreen tool, however, has strengths and weaknesses, a light side and a dark side.
Let’s first look at the movie’s light side.
The Light Side:
It's a Spiritual Mirror
We who love The Matrix movie identify ourselves with the Neo character. Neo’s journey is our journey. Neo is the archetypal hero within us, The Matrix movie a spiritual mirror in which we see our awakening self.
In the mirror of The Matrix movie, I can see five stages of the awakening self.
Stage 1 — Seeking the Higher Self (Neo seeking Morpheus)
The awakening self (Neo, still being Thomas Anderson) seeks to connect with a higher reality in which a person has answers to his questions. He hears the calling on the screen (of his heart) and answers it. He follows synchronistic signs (the white rabbit), leaves his comfort zone, and meets the messenger (Trinity), sent by the higher self (Morpheus) to lead his way. Then, back in the corporate prison reality, he hears the higher self’s voice on a mobile phone but fails to follow the higher self’s guidance. Consequently, he falls into the hands of dark astral entities (the Agents).
Stage 2 — Meeting the Higher Self (Neo aboard Morpheus’ ship)
The higher self (Morpheus) reaches down and pulls the beaten self (the bugged Neo) out of a dark pit through a team of messengers. The debugged self is taken to meet the higher self face to face and is immediately given a choice between truth and lie (red pill vs. blue pill). The debugged self chooses the red pill—the path of truth. Such choice grants the lower self an entry into the higher self’s reality (Morpheus’ hovercraft).
Stage 3 — Death of the Old Self (unplugging from the Matrix)
Seeing for the first time with an opened 3rd Eye, the awakening self penetrates the sensory illusion of fake beauty and arrives at the ugly truth of what really goes on at the vibrational level of humanity. He sees with his own eyes the imprisonment of humanity by a system of control, which is mechanical, anti-nature, and anti-human.
Along with the shocking insight comes a higher force of intervention, which unplugs the cables and cuts the lines that bind the lower self to the vibrational prison. The lower self, stripped off his former ties, has difficulty accepting the naked truth. He goes into a phase of denial before passing into a limbo.
Stage 4 — Rebirth of the New Self (rebuilding Neo)
The unplugged self wakes up in the home space of his soul family (the hovercraft of Morpheus), a higher-dimensional space devoid of sensual luxury but equipped with energetic essentials. The new self now sees the Matrix as a deceptive illusory construct that prevents humans from seeing their imprisonment.
The new self receives from his soul family a thorough reprogramming of his mind-body complex (via training sessions) and acquires extraordinary skills (such as kungfu). The new self learns to transcend the limitation of time-space (by freeing his mind) and to trust higher powers (by believing in himself).
Stage 5 — Fight Darkness with Light (Neo fights Agent Smith)
Guided by the higher self, the new self returns to the world of illusion to find his mission in life (by visiting the Oracle). Destiny informs him that he will have to choose between his lower and higher self. He chooses the higher self (by saving Morpheus from the agents’ custody). This second act of choosing greatly empowers the self.
But the growth of his light attracts the dark force (the Agents). The dark force attacks and destroys his residual self-image. Such death frees him to reunites with his twin soul (Trinity). The soul reunion animates the body-mind complex. Reborn unified, the enlightened self sees the emptiness of astral darkness, thus able to shatter the darkness from within (Neo annihilates Agent Smith with light).
The enlightened self does not dwell in the higher dimension of light. Instead he returns to the dark Matrix to send wakeup calls.
* * .*
Spiritual journey is known to be long and arduous. In real life, the transition from Thomas Anderson to Neo will never go that fast because the Neo-to-be has attachments: to a monthly salary, to a professional identity, to a network of friends, to a house of comfort…
In real life, Neo has a girlfriend in red dress. She refuses to drop out of sight. He goes back and forth between the spicy life of his blonde Monroe and the drab life of the black-haired Trinity until he sees his blonde Monroe shape-shift into Agent Smith.
In real life, the unplugging from the Matrix doesn’t take two minutes but two years or even two decades. The unplugging has to be done by your own hands, not by devices prepared by somebody else. What’s more, the cables of the Matrix can easily reattach themselves to your back. So you’ll have to unplug yourself again and again.
In real life, the trajectory of spiritual awakening feels like a chaotic mess. Only with hindsight, you may see a clear picture of progressive stages.
The Dark Side:
It's a Distorting Mirror
You can find a list of spiritual weaknesses in The Matrix. Surely all movies have weaknesses. But if this particular movie shall be used as a reference, as a tool, its spiritual weaknesses can severely mislead its viewers. In other words, the great mirror of The Matrix movie has cracks that produce severe distortions.
Below are three big cracks that I see.
Crack 1: Neglect of Nature
Watch The Matrix movie again. Do you see any tree or lake? Consciously or unconsciously, the movie shows zero awareness of Earth nature. The entire story takes place within the context of two realities: a fake reality (the glitzy artificial world modeled on the cityscape of New York) and a true reality (the grungy artificial world of good machines).
The film contains just one reference to the Earth: the operator Tank tells Neo that the last human city, Zion, is located near the Earth’s core. Save for this brief mentioning, Earth is virtually non-existent, or existent as a mute victim, as a dead environment. The magical and powerful nature of Earth (something larger than the biosphere) has been completely left out of this film about human awakening and human liberation.
The elimination of Earth nature is okay if a movie is about what happens on another planet. But if a movie attempts to tell a story of human liberation here on planet Earth, its neglect of nature is an unforgivable weakness. With this big hole in the narrative, a key issue remains unaddressed, a key question unanswered.
The key question is: How on Earth did the Matrix begin?
If you don’t know how a thing begins, you don’t know how it ends.
The Matrix, as it is explained in the movie, is an artificial construct designed to control humans, to prevent them from seeing they’re being dominated by the machines. The origin of the Matrix, we can deduce, lies in a force that is artificial, mechanical, alien to Earth, and hostile to nature. This mechanical prison is an antithesis to nature, a revolt against nature, an insult on nature.
But the movie doesn’t explain how such a mechanical construct, intrinsically unnatural, came to dominate the nature of humanity and the nature of Earth. It fails to address a fundamental issue regarding the ontology of the Matrix (despite a lame explanation given in the second movie). It looks at half of the equation. It exposes half of the truth. Inevitably, it offers half of the solution.
In the movie, Morpheus says to Neo: “As long as the Matrix exists, the human race will never be free.”
To that I shall add: “As long as Earth doesn’t exist in our consciousness, the human race will never be free.”
Why? Because we’d be missing a great ally, Gaia (i.e. the spirit of Earth), whose power can set us free.
Crack 2: Fighting Machine With Machine
“Guns! Lots of guns!” was Neo’s answer when the operator Tank asked him what he would need to enter the Matrix to save Morpheus. Here, the movie turns into a gun-worshiping pro-violence Hollywood junk.
In fact, the entire Matrix trilogy is pro-violence, containing huge amounts of gunfight, car chase, and explosion. The first, The Matrix, was a genuine protest piece against the Matrix; the second and third degenerated into a Matrix entertainment, which overtly continues the fight against the Matrix but covertly transmits the energy of the Matrix—a mechanical obsession with weaponry and violence.
From the first to the third movie, we see a phenomenal rise of violence and downfall of intelligence. The second movie still has inspirational elements, but the third, in my opinion, is quite useless.
Yet, seeds of darkness had already been sowed in the first movie. The Matrix movie worships the power of weaponry, glorifies the killing of bad guys by good guys, and shows a way out of the machine prison through machine power.
The Matrix film nails the machines as humanity’s archenemy but hails machine power as the power to defeat machines, as the means to attain human liberation.
Fighting machines with machines will never stop those machines. Fighting wars with wars will never end wars. Violence breeds violence—this is Spiritual Awakening 101. Fighting the Matrix with the Matrix’s energy will never ever get us out of the Matrix!
From this perspective, I can say that The Matrix movie transmits the energy of the Matrix and broadcasts dark messages for the Matrix. The movie exposes the problem but offers a solution that leads us back to the problem. It offers a false solution.
Crack 3: Savior Mentality
The Matrix movie can work as a spiritual mirror only if we remove its messianic element. Neo can mean something to our liberation only if we interpret him as a symbol for our awakening self. If we take the story at face value and see Neo as the one and only Christ-like savior for the entire human race, we’d be snoring away in the same old messianic dream, which is one of the Matrix’s mind-control schemes.
The Savior Mentality takes away our power and projects it onto an imaginary other, a superman from the future. This mentality chains us to a state of waiting for a future liberator while believing in our inherent smallness. In this respect, The Matrix movie is quite slippery—it can go either way. The movie can empower you or disempower you, depending on how you take the character of Neo.
Taken as a symbol for each of us, Neo is truly “the One”—the unique, authentic, original individual, not a copy, not a clone, not a simulacrum. The One is a unified being, not a dichotomy torn between two realities or two identities. The One is wholly himself.
The spiritual awakening of the human race has to be a process of each of us becoming “the One.” It has to be a process of us breaking free from the mechanical procedure of making us clones, has to be a process of us rising from the swamp of masses to stand as unique individuals. We shall all become “the one and only.”
Thus, there should be many Neos and not just one Neo. The many Neos saving the humanity in themselves from mechanical control, rather than one Neo saving the rest of humanity from mechanical control. As long as there is just one Neo saving the rest of humanity, the Matrix stands tall and mighty, a frightening jail. But if each one of us acts as Neo, the Matrix becomes a feeble illusion that crumbles at our will.
To learn about the dark force running the Matrix, go to: The Anu Age of Darkness