Matrix movies: an allegory to Zen Buddhism philosophy
It took 4 years for the brothers Wachoskis to find a studio and cast to produce this very ambitious Trilogy made of theology, religions, philosophy and cyber science. Hollywood found it too intellectual.
Here are 6 allegories related to Zen philosophy
The name NEO is an anagram.
Neo is an anagram of the word “ONE. “or the Savior is other religions. In fact, Neo is referred to as The One throughout many parts of the film. How does this relate to Zen Buddhism? Eastern philosophy reflects the notion that all living beings are one entity forming the world. It’s true that Neo doesn’t exactly show his most peaceful side throughout the film, but, being the chosen one to deliver humans from the bondage of their minds does elevate him to a sort of messianic status and to become the
teacher for a better free world with less suffering.
This is similar to Buddha’s teaching.
Awakening in the real world.
As the founder of Buddhism in 520BC, Siddhartha Gautama known as
the Buddha meaning “the awakened one.” His mean teaching was
“to wake up by escaping our mind-made illusions". Morpheus also is asking his people to wake up that is to escape the AI-made Matrix virtual reality.
Much of The Matrix involves Neo/Mr. Anderson coming to terms with the fact that the world he lives in is a mind-made illusion created by this super AI and that he must wake up and escape so he can experience the true world or genuine reality as opposed to the computerized cyber virtual reality called the Matrix. This true world does not mean bliss as Agent Smith said.
Our modern world is more and more computer-based virtual reality controlling our behaviors, thinking and emotions. One of the main teachings that Morpheus tells Neo is that the world in which his alter ego Mr. Anderson - and us- live in the Matrix, sort of Super AI cyber-world made of virtual reality supposed to be perfect but it is the opposite. The Matrix gets its energy from humans body encapsulated in pods. He tells him that this AI cyber world is an illusion, a pseudo reality generated by powerful programs affecting or minds. The minds of human trapped in the Matrix simply absorbs external signals generated by the AI thru sight, heating, touch, smell, taste. These minds then computerizes and interpret these external data to finally creates an artificial world on their own as a sort of virtual reality in which they believe.
This is exactly what Zen is Teaching. We are leaving, most of the day, in a mind-made virtual and imaginary world made of desires, hatred, emotions, past and future. Zen calls this state “ Day sleep walking” or “Zombie behavior” . We behave, most of the time, on auto-pilot whereas our mind is elsewhere doing something else. Neo was freed to protect the world, release others from their mind prisons and prevent further suffering (what Buddhism refers to as “Samsara”).
Impermanence: The idea of someone is dying or will in a material sense is common to our beliefs. Biological death is final for most f us. But are we dying in an imaginary world? Is our physical death final? Does our incarnated consciousness comes at birth and leaves at death? During Neo’s training, he is taken to the top of a skyscraper. Failing the first time and plunging to the ground, he is extracted from the matrix world and re-emerges in the real world. Noticing his mouth is bleeding (despite the training occurring in a virtual realm), he questions Morpheus. I thought it wasn’t real,” he states.
“Your mind makes it real,” replied Morpheus. This, again brings to light the Buddhist ideas of how important the mind is. By training it, resting it and controlling it
(via mindfulness meditation) we can escape our self-made matrix and its deceptive illusions.
Rebirth One of the most recognizable beliefs about Zen Buddhism is the belief that a person will reborn after their physical body expires, cycles after cycles.
Indeed, The Matrix features the rebirth of Neo twice.
Do our 5 senses and brain bio-electrical interpretation is telling us the true i.e. the genuine reality of the moment? Maybe, maybe not.
Go back to the scene where the little boy is bending a spoon and tells Neo there is no spoon.
In my opinion, Agent Smith ( a program) is right, saying the same thing than the Buddha: we, humans do create a mind-made world of suffering for ourselves.
But Morpheus is also right: we can exit this world of suffering by controlling it .
Maybe what our brain /mind perceives as reality is only an illusion but we cannot
prove it. .