Journal of Religion and Film

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Frances Flannery-Dailey

"Gnosticism and Buddhism in The Matrix"

From Anssi Ramela

I Just read your article and it was very illuminating and entertaining,
one might even say enlightening.

I got the feeling that you thought that Neo and company were striving
to reach a "nirvana" of some kind and that this "nirvana" would be
immaterial. Even before I read your article I noticed a few of the
links to christianity and buddhism (Neo-One, Trinity and other
obvious ones) and I always felt that the salvation from violence
instead of compassion and figthing machines with machines (evil
with evil) contradictions were there reinforce the fact that "nirvana"
is a(/the?) material reality that you reach by trancending the illusions
we place on the stimuli we receive about the world from our senses.

In Matrix Reloaded I noticed that "one of the orphans" (people saved from
the Matrix) sent Neo a battered spoon, reminding about the spoon not being
there. Later Neo used somekind of supernatural power to destroy sentinels
after they escape the Nebuchadnezzar. These were to me clear indications
that the "real world" that Neo awakened to is another dream world and
that there is, like you suggested, another level of illusion.

Anyway, I got the impression from your text that you don't think that
Neo is trying to ascend to a material world, which seems like the
obvious conclusion, but an immaterial "nirvana". Why? (After all it's
not like the Wachowski brothers are David Lynch.)

Response to Anssi Ramela from the author, Frances Flannery-Dailey

I think that Neo's striving for an immaterial realm has become clear in Revolutions. It was hinted at in the first film, but in the third it seems much clearer. There is the glimpse of the sun - a metaphor for: nirvana, pleroma, bliss, moksha, etc. There is also a transcendent, if you will, plane of light that Neo can see in the machine world, just like he saw code in the Matrix.

However, I utterly understand your insightful question, and this series never definitively answers ANYTHING. They leave open the possibility of a more Zen like level of finding nirvana right here, in the material world. I suppose this ambiguity is what takes us back to the film.

Rachel and I are just finishing a follow up article on the entire series, comic book, game, and Animatrix and it deals with your question (perhaps indirectly). It will be available in 2004 in a book called Jacking in to the Matrix. Thanks so much for the insightful question.

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