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The Matrix - Movie Review

Essay by   •  November 2, 2010  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,019 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,354 Views

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The One

In the film The Matrix Keanu Reeves plays Thomas A. Anderson, who is a man living a double life. One part of his life consists of working for a highly respectable software company. The second part of his life he is a hacker under the alias "Neo." One day Neo is approached by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and is taught that everything he thought was real was actually The Matrix, a computer program developed by machines in order to use human beings as batteries. Morpheus has been searching his whole life for "the one" to end the war between the humans and machines. Morpheus feels Neo is the chosen one, the one who will set everyone free from the Matrix. Neo is reluctant to accept this responsibility, but through various mission and encounters he realizes that he is capable of this feat and allows himself to embody what is to be considered "the one."

Within the storyline of The Matrix there are many signs of Buddhism. The first of which is the idea of Samsara. Samsara is the process of death and rebirth, characterized by suffering, in which all beings are caught (Strong, 370). Suffering is a result of unawareness and yearning, which keeps humans locked in an illusion until they are able to recognize that their reality is false and they are able to renounce this false sense of self. This is related to the matrix because Morpheus explains it to be merely a "mental projection of your digital self," and "is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain." Ignorance and desire are the main factors in why people wish to remain in the Matrix. This ideal is displayed in Cypher's attempts to return to the matrix after he was taken out of it by Morpheus. "You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss." Cypher is allowing himself to give into samsara because he believes that living in samsara is superior to being enlightened.

Cypher can be seen as the one that gives into samsara while the other shipmates on the Nebuchadnezzar can be considered the enlightened ones. They can be paralleled to bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism.

"An advanced Bodhisattva who has experienced Nirvana does not rest content with [Samsara]. He turns again to samsara in the service of others... He does this by sending forth a seemingly physical 'mind-made body' in which he tunes into and perceives the apparent 'world' of those he is seeking to aid."(Harvey, 113)

This displays how the crew views the matrix. They could remain outside the matrix as soon as they became enlightened, but instead they repeatedly enter the matrix in order to help others. This is displayed when Trinity and other crew members tracked down Neo at the beginning of the movie. They were willing to go into The Matrix to help yet another person achieve enlightenment.

At the same time the movie displays a sense of achieving enlightenment, which resembles Theravada Buddhism. The crew members can just be thought of as the awakened ones and are nothing more than teachers. Morpheus displays this when he is speaking with Neo. "I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it."

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