For www.TheDailyEnlightenment.com from www.Moonpointer.com/movies
Dharma Movie Review:
The Matrix Revolutions
We are Surviviors of The Matrix Revolutions
(36 Reflections on the Conclusion
of the Trilogy)
that has a beginning has an end.
The machine army continues
to drill towards Zion. Within hours, they will overrun the population
of the Zionites and lay extinction to human kind. Meanwhile, Neo
is held captive by the Merovingian at a train station. Trinity
& Morpheus set out on a journey to release him from a mysterious
train operator. Also, Smith resumes his quest to kill "Mr. Anderson"
as he reveals his identity into the real world and resumes to
replicate his program inside the system of The Matrix, causing
it to decay. All hope is placed in the freed Neo, who must travel
to the city of the machines in the Logos ship with Trinity and
bargain to save each kingdom from destruction by finishing Smith
once and for all. But even with his new powers over the sentinels,
will he be able to fight them off? (imdb.com)
The Complete Matrix Dharma Movie Review Series:
The Matrix : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/zeph/message/174
The Matrix Reloaded :
The Matrix Revolutions : http://www.moonpointer.com/movies/matrix3.htm (this article)
The Animatrix : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/zeph/message/186
To comment or share, please email shian@TheDailyEnlightenment.com
Here are some reflections on how scenes from
the movie appear to run parallel to the Buddhist teachings.
Please note that these are loose associations and not technically exact
Dharma. (All pictures interspersed randomly are from thematrix.com.)
01) Bardo of the In-Between
Neo wakes from his coma in a subway station named "Mobil Ave".
"Mobil" is an anagram for "Limbo". This resembles the Buddhist bardo state in
which one's consciousness exists in an in-between state,
between the life that one just left and a new life to be reborn
in. Likewise, the station was located between the Matrix
and between the Machine City. As explained by Rama, the place
is "nowhere", but between here and there. The bardo state is
likened to a trap if one does not break free of it, just as Neo
was trapped there by Merovingian.
02) Neutrality of Karma
Rama tells Neo that he doesn't resent his karma, but is instead
grateful for it, for having the love of his wife and daughter. He
was expressing his appreciation for the "bright side" of his karma,
instead of lamenting its dark side. The truth is, the law of karma
is essentially empty of any fixed characteristics- it is neither
good nor bad by itself, much similar to the half-full or half-empty
glass analogy. Because we have unresolved karma, we suffer, but
this karma can bring us blessings too.
03) Purpose of Existence
Rama tells Neo that programs have purposes of existence.
This is true as they are written for specific reasons. However,
sentient beings face the existential crisis of uncertainty
over one's reason for living- for there is no program in us
directing us to specific vocations or goals. However, what
we know is we want to be truly happy and have the perfect Buddha-nature
to attain this true happiness.
04) Meaning of Words
Rama tells Neo, "Love is a word- what's important is what the word
implies... Karma is a word, like love..." What truly matters whne
we use words is how we connect to what they impl. Sounds like
a Zen dialogue about seeing the reality beyond the words
that describe them, about grasping the essence of what they
05) Value of Love
Rama's dialogue with Neo was a brief reflection on
the power and importance of love, of making positive connections
to each other. Sati (which is
a Pali term meaning "mindfulness" in Buddhism) helps Neo understand
the power of innocence and unconditional love, surprisingly
playing a nondescript calming role amidst the violence which
she does not understand. It is ironical that Neo learns about this
through Rama, who is a computer program in human form. Rama was
an intelligent program that seemed to have developed genuine
feelings of love and affection. This hints that
even technological evolution will inevitably be able to connect
to the noblest human sentiments, instead of just its worst aspects,
as exemplified perhaps, by Deus Ex Machina, which is the single
intelligence that is the voice of the Architect.
06) Circling in Bardo
Neo tried to escape the station
by running along its track in one direction. But he found it
looping to where he started from. This is likened to being trapped
in any state of being, not just the bardo. When one does not break
free of one's spiritual short-sightedness, one ends up circling
in Samsara in the same miserable state- the inherently dissatisfactory
07) Breaking Free of Samsara Through Self-Reliance
Still trapped in the station, Neo thinks to himself,
"You got yourself in, you can get yourself out." Similarly, just
as we continually re-enter the wheel of Samsara, we can get ourselves
out through self-reliance by practice of the Dharma.
08) Relativity of Time
The train man wears many watches on his wrist, each telling a different
time. This is suggestive of the relativity of time- there is
no absolute time for one and all. Interestingly, time is indeed
relative in experience, as the Buddha defines "time" as "the measurement
09) Cause and Effect
Merovingian tells Trinity, Morpheus and Seraph that there is no
action without consequence. This accords with the Buddhist teaching
of the univerally affecting law of cause and effect. He says
that he does not see chance, as deluded ones do, but cause
and effect. He still takes pride in seeing everything in an overly
rigidly predictable and mechanistic cause and effect manner, thinking
it is his edge over others. He forgets the unpredictable intelligence
of wiser humans. If everything is strictly mechanistic,
there would be no free will at all.
10) Love & Insanity
Merovingian remarks, when Trinity expresses
her willingness to die for Neo, that the pattern of love resembles
that of insanity. While it is somewhat true if love is born
out of blind attachment, great selfless love (eg. compassion) can
be the sanest and greatest strength.
11) Blind Saviour
Neo was temporarily blinded after a fight with Bane/Smith,
becoming a "blind saviour". But even so, he continues to fight
the good war to save himself and all humans. Likewise, even
if we are spiritually or even physically blinded to some extent,
we have to "grope" our way through and never give up our quest
for the light of Enlightenment.
12) Heavenly Eye
Despite his physical blindness, Neo discovers that he can see in
another energy-light spectrum with his mind's eye. In fact, he somewhat
sees more accurately and detailedly. This reminds us of Anuruddha,
who was one of the Buddha's disciples. He became blind due
to not sleeping, so that he could practise and listen to the Buddha's
teachings. When he attained Enlightenment, he obtained
the powers of the heavenly eye. Not only could he see again, he
could even see into the heavens.
13) Rebirth of the Oracle
The Oracle had to take on a new "shell" or body, as a
result of Merovingian's "assasination". In a sense, she
was reborn, as she states that taking a new body, she unavoidably
loses some aspects of her previous "self" and acquires some new
characteristics. This parellels real life, where Mary Alice, who plays
the Oracle in The Matrix Revolutions, replaces Gloria Foster
(who played the Oracle in The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded) who
14) One Believes What One Wants
The Oracle tells Morpheus that we all believe what we want
to. This is true in the sense that even if someone hoodwinks us,
it's ourselves, with our delusions, who choose to believe in the
lies, who caused ourselves to be deceived. Those who deceive us
are only the conditioning factors.
15) Inevitable Death
Oracle: Very soon he's (Smith) going to have the power
to destroy this world, but I believe he won't stop there, he can't.
He won't stop until there's nothing left at all.
Neo: What is he ?
Oracle: He is you. Your opposite, your negative, the result of the
equation trying to balance itself out. (continues below)
Agent Smith represents Mara (the evil one in Buddhism, whose name
means "death in life" representing the three poisons of greed, hatred
and ignorance), or the impending doom and the inevitable death
of all, in a sense representing the law of impermanence, which can
result in the sudden deaths of many. The Oracle tells Neo that Smith
is his opposite and negative, "the result of the equation trying
to balance itself out." This reminds us of our inner demons which
seemingly gather strength when we become more and more mindful of
them, in our efforts to vanquish them.
16) Limited Perception
Neo: Where is this going? Where does it end ?
Oracle: I don't know.
Neo: You don't know or you won't tell me ?
Oracle: I told you before, no one can see beyond a choice they don't
understand. And I mean no one. (continues below)
Because we are unenlightened, we have delusions, which warp
our perception of our choices, much more so of their consequences.
17) One's Personal Choice
Neo: What choice?
Oracle: It doesn't matter. It's my choice. I have mine to make, just
as you have yours. (continues below)
We are existentially alone with our free will and the personal
choices we make with it. There is no escape from making choices,
for better or for worse. Even not making a choice is making the choice
of being apathetic.
18) Right Time for the Right Thing
Neo: Does that include what things to tell me and what not to
Oracle: Of course not.
Neo: Then why didn't you tell me about the Architect? Why didn't
you tell me about Zion and the Ones before me? Why didn't you tell
me the truth?
Oracle: Because it wasn't time for you to know. (continues below)
A skillful teacher or person sharing the Dharma dispenses the
right teachings in the right amount in the right way to the right
person at the right time and place.
19) Extending Beyond Oneself
Neo: Tell me how I separated my mind from my body without jacking
in. Tell me how I stopped four Sentinels by thinking it. Tell me
just what the hell is happening to me.
Oracle: The power of the One extends beyond this world. It reaches
from here all the way back to where it came from.
Oracle: The Source. That's what you felt when you touched those
Sentinels. But you weren't ready for it. (continues below)
The power of our mind, when fully enlightened, extends beyond
our illusory limited self. The Source of all things is not a creator
God in Buddhism. We collectively form the source of everything.
From everything springs forth everything, constantly evolving spiritually
and materially, interconnectedly and interdependently. The Buddha's
Source of power comes from His wisdom of understanding everything
and compassion for every being. There is nothing more powerful than
20) Returning to the Source
Neo: The Architect told me that if I didn't return to the Source,
Zion would be destroyed by midnight tonight. (continues below)
In Buddhism, to return to the Source is to return to the entire
universe itself, to realise non-self, Enlightenment- to be
one with all.
21) Unbalancing the Equation
Oracle: (rolls her eyes) Please. You and I may not be able to
see beyond our own choices, but that "man" can't see past any choices.
Neo: Why not?
Oracle: He doesn't understand them. He can't. To him they are variables
in an equation. One at a time each variable must be solved then
countered. That's his purpose. To balance an equation.
Neo: What's your purpose?
Oracle: To unbalance it.
If one lives life without wanting to break free from the matrix
of delusions that one is trapped in, and complacently lett things
be, one is not "disturbing" the equation of Samsara. Conversely, to
unbalance this equation is to break free of Samsara, to become enlightened.
22) Faith in One(self)
Niobe says she does not believe in Neo being the One who will
save them all, but that she believes in Neo himself. It is interesting
that she played a pivotal role in saving Zion herself. She believed
in herself too, not just placing hopes in Neo alone. In this sense,
there were many "Ones" who functioned as self-reliant and mutually-cooperative
Bodhisattvas in saving one and all.
23) Give Only What One Needs
Morpheus: You went to see her (Oracle)?
Niobe: Just before the Sentinels rammed us.
Morpheus: Why, what did she tell you?
Niobe: The same thing she always does: Exactly what I needed to
A good teacher of the Dharma knows the capacity of his
or her students well, and tells only what his or her student
needs to hear- nothing more or less.
24) See the Enemy Beyond Flesh
Bane: Mr. Anderson...
Neo: Who are you?
Bane: Look past the flesh and see your enemy.
Neo: (Recognises Bane as Smith.) It's impossible.
Bane: Not impossible- inevitable.
When we see past the flesh, at our enemies within and without us, we
realise that it is never the person per se who is the enemy,
but the immaterial three poisons of greed, hatred and ignorance.
That is to say, the enemy is the greed, hatred and ignorance; not
the greedy, hateful and ignorant.
25) Confidence Over Choicelessness
Trinity: If you tell me we make it, I believe you.
Neo: We'll make it. We have to.
If we have no choice over our choicelessness, but to choose a hard
path to trod, let us be confident about it and bravely face
the obstacles in our way. It's the only thing to do there and then
to advance spiritually.
26) The God Out of the Machine
Neo tells the collective machines (the Architect?), also called
the "Deus Ex Machina (Greek for "the god out of the machine)", that
the viral-like program "Smith" has grown beyond the Matrix's control,
and strikes a mutual peace bargain with them. The collective
consciousness of the machines is like a "god out of the machine"
or "ghost in the shell". Likewise, we individually have a "god"
within the machine that is our body. It is our consciousness,
our will which (re)creates our "self", our sum of wisdom and delusion-
only as almighty as we are enlightened.
27) Fighting One's One Demon
Agent Smith fights Neo empty-handed and alone in
a showdown, while his cloned minions stand aside and watch. This
is reminiscent of us needing to fight only essentially one
demon- our innermost one. After it is defeated, all outer demons are
rendered powerless over us.
28) Purpose of Life
Agent Smith tells Neo, "The purpose of life, Mr. Anderson,
is death." Smith has a classically cold existential outlook on life,
seeing only where it leads to, instead of the worthiness of the
journey that leads to the final destination. Out of hatred and seeing
the apparent "pointless" proceeding of all life towards death, he
has no other worthy goal than to accelerate all lifeforms to their
inevitable destiny. But what he does is unnecessary, for nature
will take its own course. In Buddhism, the noblest purpose
of life is transcend life and death, and to help others do the same,
gaining liberation in Enlightenment.
29) Pointless to Fight?
Smith: (When Neo collapses) Why, Mr. Anderson (Neo)? Why do you
do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting
for something? For more than your survival? Can you tell me what
it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace?
Yes? No? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries
of perception. The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect
trying to deperately to justify an existence that is without meaning
or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself,
although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as
love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it
by now. You can't win. It's pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr.
Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?!
Neo: (Stands up) Because I choose to.
Agent Smith once again states his heartless unsentient and spiritually hollow existential
view of human life. He fails to understand that sentient beings
seek meaningfulness in existence, and even death and beyond, inevitably
leading to the struggle for love, freedom, truth and peace. Human
strife in the right direction will inevitably lead to the peak of
spiritual evolution in Enlightenment. These are concepts that Smith,
as an "evil" program, cannot understand, as opposed to Rama.
30) Smith's Existential Crisis
Ironically, in Smith's attempt to point out what he supposes
to be Neo's existential crisis while fighting him, he was
in fact stating his own existential crisis, which he does not
see. If it is as he assumes, pointless for Neo to fight back,
it is just as pointless for him to keep Neo down. Smith's multiplying hatred
is, by his own logic, just as existentially pointless, in that
it has no basis and useful purpose.
31) Peace for Man & Machine
Is the final harmony achieved between man and machines a
message for us? Yes- for with the simultaneously rapid advance
of artificially intelligent technology and increase of human selfishness, the
day might come when man exploits AI to the extent that it
retaliates. It was greed and hatred that led the machines to conquer
mankind in the first place, creating the Matrix. Perhaps this day
has already come? Perhaps we are plugged into the Matrix still,
just as the vast majority of humans still are, at the end of the
32) The One Sun
Neo seemed to merge both into the real world
and the Matrix, in the form of golden light. The dawning golden
sun at the end of the movie reminds us of the sun-like
Rocana Buddha and the omnipresent Vairocana Buddha. In Buddhism,
Vairocana represents the Dharmakaya (aspect of Buddha's body of
truth that pervades all time and space) and Rocana Buddha
represents the Sambhogakaya (reward body of the Buddha which compassionately
emanates manifestation bodies or Nirmanakayas in "human" Buddha forms-
eg. Shakyamuni Buddha). Vairocana is generally recognised as the
spiritual or essential body of Buddha, pervading everything like
light, also symbolised by the sun, or its light. Vairocana is the
chief of the Five Dhyani Buddhas, occupying the centre position,
also known as the Great Sun Tathagatha.
33) We are Still in the Matrix
We understand from the conversation between the Oracle and the Architect
at the end of the movie, that the peace treaty is such that
the ones who want out (of the Matrix) will be freed. This still
implies the need for the individual's wish and effort to wake
up from the Matrix. This applies to us too. The Matrix
Trilogy is hereby officially immortalised as a realistic modern
myth that we can all relate to at a spiritual level.
34) Will Neo Save All?
Keanu Reeves (in interview): The first (movie) is about birth.
The second about life. The third about death. I don't know though.
Maybe it should be called The Matrix Resurrection (instead of The
Will Neo eventually save all the other humans plugged in the Matrix?
Is it possible? Well, he can only give us wake-up calls time
and again- the rest is very much to us- whether we wish to wake
up or not. In The Matrix, we saw Cypher, who could not
bear "the desert of the real" and spiritually "retrogressed" back
to the Matrix. It thus takes personal courage to break free from
the matrices of our delusion. Just as Neo was first contacted and
guided by Morpheus in The Matrix. He might contact you! Neo
somewhat represents the enlightened Buddha or Bodhisattva, who try
to nudge us out of our spiritual comfort zones. It is interesting
that the final scene of the trilogy resembles our everyday
"normal" world. After The Matrix Revolutions, we still need
our personal Spiritual Revolution, to be enlightened. In the mean
time, we are "reborn" into the Matrix of Samsara time and again, or
as Keanu Reeves (who acted as Neo) says above, "resurrected."
35) You are the ONE!
By now, you should have realised this... Ultimately, you are the ONE
to save yourself. Here is an excerpt of an interview with the Wachowski
Brothers, the creators of the Matrix Trilogy. This interview was
done way back, after they the first Matrix movie was screened.
Q: What is the role or faith in the
movie? Faith in oneself first and foremost or in something
A: Hmmm... that is a tough question! Faith in ONE's self, how's
that for an answer?
Salvation is essentially "self-vation", even with all the compassionate
guidance of the Buddhas we can get!
36) Everything That Has A Beginning Has An End?
Conventionally, the tagline seems to make sense. However, in
Buddhism, there is one thing often described as beginningless, which
however, can end- Ignorance (delusion), which gives rise to
our greed and hatred, which causes all our unhappiness.
It is useful to remember that conventionally, our present life,
which had a beginning on the day we were born (though we were reborn
countless times already), will have an end too, in death- on a day
we cannot predict. In our world of cyclic existence, everything
is changing, (re)beginning and (re)ending in each moment.
It cannot be more apt that this series of Matrix reviews ends with
the last exiting words of the Buddha Himself- "Subject to change
are all conditioned things. Strive on with diligence." And may I
add, "Let us, survivors of the Matrix, break free of it soon!"
To comment or share, please email me.
We sincerely hope you enjoyed the Matrix Trilogy and our reviews as
much as we did watching and writing about it!