Last week I watched the movie The Matrix. For the very first time. I had never understood why this movie had influenced people in the way that it has, with ultra-right movements springing from it, and men’s rights movements, so it was time to see for myself.
Funny, how when you approach it with a particular eye, you get something different from the movie.
To me, it is about our shadow, it is about understanding the impermanence of the physical world, and understanding the permanence of the soul, and the enduring reality of the spiritual world.
It often amazes me that people will take movies, poems, books and other forms of media of this kind and translate them as factual, just as it amazes me that people view the stories of the Bible as factual, the long lists of laws in the old testament, the violence, the rape and plunder, Yahweh, the vengeful God. Having had the benefit of having studied theology for three years, and for many years reading the sacred books of a number of traditions, and their commentaries, I tend to see things a bit differently.
At theological college I was delighted when I learned that the theologians of the past didn’t interpret the Bible the way it is often preached in churches, that is to keep the message relevant to people (who, sorry to say, traditionally and historically were deemed not to have the education of the clergy), and to keep bums on seats. Many of the old theologians understood the allegory, the symbolism, the deep spiritual truths and hidden meanings in the texts. Meanings that Jesus tried to teach his disciples and the people who walked the earth with him.
Once, I caused a bit of a kerfuffle when I proclaimed in one of my classes that I viewed G*d as containing both good and evil, like the light and dark sides of the moon. Remember Pink Floyd? They understood G*d better than many people do now, most probably with the benefit of some psychedelics. I felt vindicated after being told that theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) had similar thoughts as I had expressed. In his world he was what could be described as post-modern, questioning many of the church’s teachings – the trinity, whether Jesus really did need to be sacrificed on a cross, and, really, that all the dogma of the church undermined the power of the gospel of the New Testament – a gospel of love.
No wonder I liked Schleiermacher – he is considered to have been pantheist, existentialist, and as being rather sympathetic to paganism. A bit post-Christian, actually.
Anyway, back to The Matrix.
Towards the end of the movie it seemed quite clear to me that the forces they (Neo et al) were fighting represented the Shadow, our shadow, that which we perceive as darkness within ourselves, that which we reject, but that we need to befriend and integrate.
The shadow was never meant to be fought, or dominated, to do that is to be at war with oneself, to attempt to annihilate that which is good, and bad, and beautiful, and ugly, in us, but which is still us – me, myself, you, yourself, us. I say to attempt to annihilate, because the shadow will not rest, it will be at us until we befriend it. If we do not do this, we will most likely live with unresolved projections – hatred of ourselves and others, racism, homophobia, xenophobia … the things we hate about ourselves we project outwards on to others.
I love how the names of many characters have a religious theme –
Neo – new
Morpheus – to form, to shape (like G*d, of the earth in Genesis)
Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Oracle – a priest or priestess who gives prophecy
Cypher – a secret or code
Apoc – Apocalypse
And I love how those themes of mystery and allegory, of hidden truths and messages, are conveyed in this film.
Would I take the red pill?
I know that if it meant I would live in a world where I feared and mistrusted everything outside of me, where I expected my rights to be held above the benefit and good of others, I would not take the red pill. I’d take the blue, and stay to help make this world a better place, and not fight it from another reality.
But, as far as encountering my Shadow, definitely, the red pill.