Essay about the Matrix and Buddhism
The enemy in The Matrix is ignorance, a trait that is embedded in everyone and is difficult to overcome. Although the he violence and bullets within the movie is the opposite of what buddhist believe in – they believe in peace and do not believe in violence, it can be viewed metaphorically in which it is used to show the struggle to overcome and defeat one’s ignorance and illusion of reality. However, although there are different levels of enlightenment or escaping this illusion, everyone is treated with the same respect. Even those who are not as aware, such as the agents, eventually need to become free from the illusion. This relates to a key component of Buddhism. Karma is the idea that our past decisions can affect us in our present and future either in a positive or negative way. Therefore, not teaching everyone with the utmost respect could potentially affect their present and future actions.
The path to enlightenment can also be displayed through the use of martial arts within The Matrix. Martial arts is about mastering one’s own mind and body. Both mind and body are a key aspect to the teachings of Buddha. This related back to The Matrix because it is said that we are not able to survive without our minds, also relating how important the mind is to Buddhists. Through meditation you can train your mind and this will bring you closer to enlightenment, which is the ultimate goal of Buddhists. This directly relates the idea that our mind can control our perceptions and change the way we view the world. The mind is a powerful tool and must be trained.
How it works
As mentioned before, a major component of Buddhism is the belief in reincarnation. Buddhists believe that reincarnation is a cycle of existence and suffering displayed through the use of the Bhavacakra or The Wheel of Life or Becoming. This is shown when Neo awakens in in the real world in a pod with tubes attached to him. Although he did not die, he is still reborn in which his ideas and perceptions of the world he believed in the past are dead and new insights have emerged as a result. A less metaphorical example would be when Neo is reincarnated into The One at the end of the movie.
One of the major goals of a Buddhist to reach enlightenment. This can be accomplished by escaping your preconceived notions, being more self aware, and focusing on self development. In addition, one must acknowledge their ignorance and remember that our perceptions change the worlds around us and our mind has the control. All of these concepts in addition to karma and reincarnation were shown and discussed in the movie The Matrix. The main character reaches enlightenment after a long journey with countless questions and an immense amount of effort. For this, Neo can be compared to Buddha in which he follows four noble truths through the use of the Eightfold path: right views, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. This lead him to enlightenment.