#1879 - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - Editor: Jerry
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This issue of The Highlights features selections from a new book:
Journey to the Source: Decoding Matrix Trilogy, by Dr. Pradheep
Dr. Chhalliyil is a senior scientist at Genetic-ID in Fairfield, Iowa. He
also runs the Sakthi Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers free
healing to people around the world through a folk medicinal system.
These extracts, exclusive to The Highlights and selected by this
issue's editor, are reprinted with the publisher's permission.
Journey to the Source: Decoding Matrix Trilogy
~ ~ ~
from the Foreward, by Don Davis, composer for The Matrix
Pradheep Chhalliyil has thoroughly documented the clear and precise
analogues between each character in The Matrix and the corresponding Vedic
counterparts. ... As Morpheus told Neo, he can only show the door but Neo is the
one who has to walk through it. Journey to the Source holds the door open and
illuminates our path.
~ ~ ~
from the Introduction
The Upanishads and The Matrix
An actor takes many roles but he remains the same. God is like this.
Different are his names and his forms but he is the "one" behind it
The central theme of The Matrix Trilogy questions the reality of this world
we live in. This is also the essence of a branch of Vedic literature known as
the Upanishads whose purpose is to explain the truth about the universe and our
particular role in it as human souls. Although The Matrix Trilogy draws on many
different spiritual traditions for its names and mythological symbols, the core
of the story seems to be strongly influenced by both the Upanishads and the
Puranas, a series of dramatic mythological narratives about battles between good
and evil, which explain the principles laid out in the Upanishads.
The Upanishads are a collection of approximately 120 literary works written
mostly in the form of dialogues between a spiritual master and his students.
Responding to a series of inquiries about the nature of reality, the master
leads his students to a state of enlightenment or realization, like Morpheus and
Neo. The Upanishads also include Vedanta, the final chapter of Vedic literature,
in which the illusory concept of Maya is exposed and instructions are given
about how to understand it.
Similarity of the themes indicate that The Matrix Trilogy is strongly
influenced by the Upanishads, which is further strengthened when we hear the
music behind the credits for Matrix Revolutions. The song "Navras," brilliantly
composed by Don Davis and Ben Watkins, is comprised of a series of Upanishadic
verses, the chief one being Asatoma sad gamayay, set to music. Similar
chants are also used in the background during the fight scenes between Neo and
Smith. The following is an extract from an interview with composer Don
[quote] Larry and Andy told me they wanted the super burly brawl, which is
the cataclysmic fight mano-et-mano between Neo and Agent Smith, they wanted the
choir to have a significant voice in that scene. And I told them that I thought
that was a really good idea but if the choir just sang "ooooohs" and
"aaaaaaaahs" it would be significantly not very good. So I asked them if they
would look for something in literature that represented some of the ideological
themes that had influenced them when they were writing The Matrix that we could
give to the choir and have them sing. And I told them that I actually preferred
a language that wasn't English and if possible a "dead" language like Latin, so
that even around the world there's nobody who is actively speaking the language
that the choir is singing. They eventually came up with about six passages from
the Vedic scriptures called the Upanishads. And we had them sing it in the
original Sanskrit. And these texts are amazingly apropos to the whole
ontological concept of The Matrix. It refers to "the one." Let me read one of
them: "In him are woven the sky and the earth and all the regions of the air.
And in him rests the mind and all the powers of life. Know him as "The One" and
leave aside all other words. He is the bridge of immortality." I mean [laughs]
that's amazing. And the first text you hear sung in the burly brawl sequence is
a prayer which goes "From delusion lead me to truth, from darkness lead me to
light, from death lead me to immortality." I think that adds a whole layer of
meaning to the entire trilogy. [end of quote]
Keeping this in mind, the purpose of this book is a scholarly look at The
Matrix Trilogy in the light of the Upanishads and particularly from the concept
of unity or "Oneness" that is the key teaching of this scripture. The uniqueness
of the Upanishads is that the Truth revealed by it does not differ from other
spiritual traditions of the World. Like the universality of scientific facts
discovered throughout the world, the Truth declared by Upanishads is unanimous
for all other cultures. Therefore through this book you can identify the Truth
immaterial of your spiritual background.
~ ~ ~
from Chapter 1, The Beginning of the Journey
Morpheus asks Neo to jump out of the skyscraper to avoid the three
agents. Neo is confused by what is going on and finds Morpheus' commands
impossible to follow.
The fact is, we often don't trust our teachers in the beginning and see
their advice as strange. It takes some time to fully understand what the teacher
is trying to tell us. Neo is not sure of himself. As this is his first
encounter, he has little faith in the words of his teacher. He disobeys, and
eventually gets caught by the three agents that protect The Matrix. According to
the Upanishads, the three "Agents" that guard our Matrix-like world and blind us
from the Truth are:
1. Total enquiry into the physical world but failing to recognize the soul
2. Excessive action in the physical world without enquiry about the purpose
of action (Rajas).
3. Ignorance, laziness, or too much inertia to inquire (Tamas).
These three "Agents" prevent us from knowing whether we are in the
Matrix-like illusory world of Maya.
The symbolism in the Matrix movies is working on two levels, internal and
external. Agent Smith, for example, represents the inner workings of the Ego,
the false sense of individuality which while working through our thoughts and
perceptions, restricts awareness of our true universal Self (soul). Morpheus, on
the other hand, externally represents the spiritual teacher who guides us and,
internally, represents our own inner wisdom that awakens to direct us on the
Agent Smith grabs hold of Neo and calls him by the name "Anderson."
Smith tells him he has dual lives: one as a computer programmer and another as a
hacker; and he warns him one of the lives is going to end soon.
Here, Neo is the soul and Agent Smith is the ego. The ego is a false
reflection of the soul making it seem individual and isolated rather than
universal and unbounded in nature. In Matrix Revolutions, the Oracle tells Neo
that Smith is the opposite of him.
Internally we are under the control of the ego, ego rules our life. It
exercises its power in making decisions and we follow it. Though we are slaves
to the ego, we struggle to free ourselves from it. The struggle gains power and
momentum once we start to question the nature of our true Self or soul. Our
search for soul-recognition makes the ego very uncomfortable so it curbs our
struggle for freedom right from the beginning.
Why is the ego scared of us knowing the Truth? Because once we realize the
true unbounded nature of our inner Self, we understand that the ego has no value
and becomes powerless. In order to survive, it threatens us with fear, its most
powerful weapon. It promises us that if we go in the direction of spirituality,
our lives will be doomed and there will be no prosperous future.
Hacking into Reality
The ego wants us to believe that the world, as it appears, is real and
encourages us to follow the accepted rules of behavior, which limit our
perspective of life. Like Agent Smith, the ego requires us to live within
boundaries pursuing our normal profession, which, in Neo's case, is a computer
software programmer. The ego does not want us to hack into the information about
the real world of the soul. Hacking here is symbolic of inquiring into the
nature of reality. Neo is hacking into the secrets of this universe, the mystery
of his own existence. According to Agent Smith's rules this is illegal and has
to be prevented.
Note that Agent Smith uses the name Anderson, not Neo. Anderson is the name
for the Matrix world, Neo is the name of the seeker. In many spiritual
traditions, it is a common practice that once a spiritual aspirant begins his
journey, he is given a new name that more closely reflects his new spiritual
identity. Neo means new.
~ ~ ~
from Chapter 2, The Matrix World
Morpheus places two pills in Neo's hand, one red and one blue. The
bue one allows him to stay in the world of The Matrix, the red one allows him a
chance to see Reality.
The Katho Upanishad says that, like Neo, everyone gets a choice in life.
Either we take the path of Self-knowledge (Sreyas, the red pill) that
leads us to the Truth, or we take the path of pleasure (Preyas, the
blue pill) that leads us to ignorance of our true nature. Those who choose the
path of Sreyas will find happiness, while those who choose
Preyas are destined to be deluded. Unfortunately, the majority usually
opt for the blue pill (Preyas).
The red pill is a symbol of scriptural knowledge, such as the Upanishads.
It is through the guidance of the scriptures that we can easily get unplugged
from our Matrix-like world. These scriptures are not belief programs. They give
us direct knoweldge of our own true Self. Neo wisely chooses the red pill
and begins his journey of Self-discovery that will eventually lead him to The
Source. The red pill is the symbol of that knowledge which removes darkness and
spreads light. Hence in the East, saints and monks wear red and saffron-colored
robes. Blue is the color of illusion, or Maya. The "blueness" of the sky or
ocean is not real but an illusion. In the Puranas, Vishnu, the maintainer of the
creation, is known as a magician who casts illusion, and has blue skin. Only his
outward appearance is blue, however. Inside, he is the manifestation of Truth
(Pure Consciousness). This means that to know the Truth, one has to transcend
the veil of illusion of body-awareness in order to know one's inner Self.
Neo chooses the red pill. As he picks up the pill, two Neos are
seen in the reflection of Morpheus' sunglasses, representing the two lives that
Neo is leading. In the left lens we see the blue pill and Thomas Anderson, and
in the right lens we see the red pill and Neo.
Neo is taking the first step of Self-discovery. It is a journey he must
ultimately make alone, but he needs a guide to help him. This is why learning
scriptures from a teacher, who has many years of experience and reflection,
allows us to tap into deeper meanings.
Morpheus explains to Neo that the pill is a trace program to
pinpoint his location.
The Upanishads teach that the Truth will only dawn on us when we disrupt
the flow of thoughts that we are the body-mind-sense complex. If we think
carefully, we don't know how to pinpoint our exact "location." We don't know who
we really are. The wisdom of the Upanishads is like a trace program to point
each of us towards the real "Me." How many of us are able to pinpoint exactly,
Who am I? and Where am I? Am I in my head, or my heart, or my hand?
Who exactly is Me? In order to know this, we have to disrupt the input and
output of thoughts of the body-mind complex. This is one of the first exercises
that the Upanishads ask us to do. The discussion sessions between the master and
the disciple are all about answering questions about the true nature of the
Self. In the process they break the illusion of who we are that is created by
~ ~ ~
from Chapter 3, The Real World
Neo is angry and frustrated confronting this
The knowledge that one gains on a spiritual path initially shatters the
foundations of our lives and all of the concepts we have lived with. Some of you
reading this book may feel the same. We are unable to accept reality. This is
what Neo is experiencing.
Morpheus asks Neo to breathe deeply and relax.
Breathing techniques, called Pranayama, are common practices given
out by spiritual teachers to calm and control the mind and improve
When Neo asks to go back to The Matrix, Morpheus explains how the
mind fears the truth.
The mind does not want us to know the truth. It fears losing control and
invents all kinds of reasons for us to back off. As in Alice in
Wonderland, Alice stops following the white rabbit and cries to go back
home because she sees everything as scary.
There is a saying: "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Partial or
half-baked spiritual knowledge can be poisonous. A person who only half-learns a
scripture and doesn't fully realize the Self not only confuses himself but also
any others he may talk to. Confusion arises when knowledge is incomplete. So it
is essential to have an enlightened teacher to make sure a student learns the
Morpheus describes how the first person freed himself from The
Matrix and tells Neo about The Oracle's prediction that this person would be
reborn to rescue all humans.
Enlightened spiritual masters reincarnate from time to time to help mankind
see the light and free themselves from bondage. Great prophecies often foretell
their coming. Mostly, they are not believed. Morpheus has spent his life
searching for The One destined to free mankind as predicted by The Oracle. He
believes Neo is The One.
Morpheus allows Neo to rest in preparation for his
A spiritual teacher first imparts theoretical teaching to a student and
then gives him practical training so that the student can validate the truth
himself. The reason why the teachings of the Upanishads have stood the test of
time is that they follow this time-honored principle of imparting the
~ ~ ~
from Chapter 4, Neo's Training
Neo meets Mouse, one of the crew members who wrote the computer
training program with the distracting woman. Mouse considers that there is no
harm in enjoying the beauty of the illusory woman.
The teachings of the Upanishads do not seek to deny natural human impulses.
The Upanishads caution about two things: first, one should be aware that these
are only sensual excitation, and, second, no sensual enjoyment should harm
anyone else. In other words, we should not be controlled by sensory experiences,
nor should we allow them go so far that they do damage to any other person or
All the characters in the films are symbols of various aspects of the mind.
Both Mouse and Cypher indicate those parts of our minds that get overshadowed by
the world of senses. Mouse represents our fantasizing mind. We all weave
fantasies in our mind and derive pleasure from them even though we know them to
be unreal. Mouse scampers after his fantasies like the animal of the same name.
In the Puranas, the elephant god Ganesha, who symbolizes wisdom and is the
remover of obstacles, rides on the back of a mouse. The mouse can go everywhere
without anyone noticing it as, just like the mind, it is small. The mind
has a tendency to dart about everywhere, chasing fickle fantasies and
devious desires along the way. Ganesha, representing wisdom, is much bigger and
able to rein in the mouse (the errant mind). Mastering one's mind is thus the
ultimate sign of wisdom. The Bhagavad Gita ("Song of Life") describes a stable
state of mind, which does not jump around chasing ephemeral and base desires,
but remains in a state of placidity and eventually attains bliss.
~ ~ ~
Note from Highlights editor:
I've tried to give a good idea about how this book treats The Matrix
Trilogy and introduces basic spiritual teachings. If you would like to find out
more about Journey to the Source: Decoding Matrix Trilogy,
to order it, please visit http://www.matrixjourney.com/
If you or someone you know is a Matrix fan, this book will clearly explain
its alignment with Hindu texts, especially the Upanishads. By way of
demonstrating and perhaps celebrating the universality of the teaching, the
author quotes diverse sources, from the Torah to Meister Eckhart to Ray
Kurzweil, from Francis Lucille to Cervantes to Kahlil Gibran. This is a
useful, informative, and clearly written contribution to Matrix
literature. The book is structured in such a way that allows the
reader to re-live the movies and to probe certain scenes in order to
understand how they bear upon spiritual teachings and upon one's spiritual
inquiry. The scene explications can even be understood by a reader who has never
seen the Matrix films.