I noticed that the book "Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix" was at the top of Technorati hot products list (of course, it could have been an old snapshot of Technorati for purposes of the demo too) about a week or so ago (while I was at Etech conference). It jogged my memory of The Matrix and its compelling lure.
I was just at this LOHAS conference site (referenced by the Profit with Meaning online conference I was at earlier today) and noticed this invitation is eerily similar in concept to the red pill/blue pill choice.
Please follow these instructions. (Crisp visuals outline step-by-step instructions and recall my childhood days of origami making...but we're just creating the common 6-sided box.)
This is your box. It is a lovely box.
It doesn't ask questions, cause trouble, or create a stir. It will make you feel safe, familiar and numb.
It will stifle innovation, curb potential and maintain the status quo.
If you want to protect your box, and all it contains, then by all means
Do not open this invitation.
The movie The Matrix makes you wonder about your box. It stimulates you to be curious about your fixed core beliefs about perception, cause and effect and the nature of reality.
A reviewer for Taking the Red Pill on the Amazon site states:
"And I thought the movie was deep BEFORE I read this book. Lets face it. If you're reading this review, The Matrix was more than just a movie to you. Something that you saw in it made you question, if even for a moment, the nature of reality as you have always understood it."
OK, I didn't rush out to the theaters because I thought it was just an empty-headed-sci-fi-macho-fighter-thriller. When I finally saw it on video I was blown away. But I didn't quite know how to put a finger on it at that time. I was pretty busy. I was working in the Internet industry then. But ever since, I had a background process running wondering about how much our perception creates our reality.
"One of the greatest insights that has come out of modern physics is that of the unity between the observer and the observed: the person conducting the experiment -- the observing consciousness -- cannot be separated from the observed phenomena, and a different way of looking causes the observed phenomena to behave differently.
But whatever you perceive is only a kind of symbol, like an image in a dream. It is how your consciousness interprets and interacts with the molecular energy dance of the universe. This energy is the raw material of so-called physical reality. You see it in terms of bodies and birth and death, or as a struggle for survival. An infinite number of completely different interpretations, completely different worlds, is possible and in fact, exists -- all depending on the perceiving consciousness. Every being is a focal point of consciousness, and every such focal point creates its own world, although all those worlds are interconnected. There is a human world, an ant world, a dolphin world, and so on." - Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
"Not since the release of "STAR WARS" a generation ago has a movie come along which is as open to religious and spiritual interpretation as "THE MATRIX". - http://hope.stc.cx/christian/index.php?writing=matrix1
This quote reminded me that Joseph Campbell in the Bill Moyer hosted PBS series saw the widespread appeal of Star Wars as our own resonance with the archetypal hero's journey. "Campbell argues eloquently that these timeless archetypes continue to exert a powerful pull on our unconscious." - Joseph Campbell Foundation
"People don't generate their self-actualization needs. They are no more created by the willful mind than are hunger pangs that signal a need for feeding an empty stomach. Self-actualization needs are primal; we have no say in what our primal needs are -- only in how we address them." - Ageless Marketing by David Wolfe.
About two years ago (after the start-up closed its doors and yes, after the divorce) I took the red pill.
I decided the biggest limiting belief I could have is believing that I was right and I had any answers at all. I would just be curious. I would assume I had blind spots -- how could I know what I didn't know. That's still my philosophy. Whatever I read, whatever I see, whatever I hear, I don't necessarily accept as true. Whatever I read, whatever I see, whatever I hear, I don't reject as false. I keep an open mind. I am not ready to judge it, label it, and drop it into a container by whether it fits into my preconceived concept of truth or my world view. Even my identity is more fluid. I allow my mind to remain available for answers in a state of inquiry: "Is this really true?" versus "This can't be true!" which shuts off possibility. In due time -- sometimes immediately -- my mind separates out the wheat from the chaff but I don't try to control or force the process.
The Matrix ultimately brings up old, ancient questions. Too many to cover in any one post. Too many to cover in an entire book.
Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. - The Matrix
When I first read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse in a "Philosophy in Literature" course I was thoroughly mystified and frustrated. I read the whole book (written entirely in words) to be told the message that the truth (not The Matrix) is beyond words.
"A special transmission beyond Scriptures,
Not depending on words or letters,
But pointing directly to the Mind,
Seeing into one's true Nature,
And realizing one's own Enlightenment." -- Bodhidharma
The Tao Te Ching has the same message:
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named, is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
Many wisdom traditions appear -- or so I thought -- to skirt the issue of the nature of reality.
There are more definitive answers to what we perceive reality to be.
A modern concept that illustrates Maya / Illusion wonderfully is the Sci-Fi Movie "The Matrix". Everything in The Matrix is believed to be real, until the character Neo wakes up, and sees that its just a dream world. One who is asleep never knows he is until he wakes up. - Wikipedia entry
I would only disagree with the use of the word "never". Have you ever been dreaming where it is somewhat lucid -- you are subtly aware that you are in dream? "Many philosphies or religions seek to "pierce the veil" in order to glimpse the transcendant truth, from which the illusion of a physical reality springs." - Wikipedia entry
Bestselling author Miguel Ruiz (whom I can personally attest is lucidly dreaming) uses the dream and movie metaphor throughout his books. Is it just a metaphor? Dig further and you can choose to go down the rabbit hole.
And then there is Socrate's allegory of The Cave, in Plato's The Republic.
As endlessly interesting as The Matrix is, I would temper how much time you spend dissecting the script for meaning. The map is not the territory. There are many many many sources for the red pill. The choice itself is enough.
Alright, now that was more than enough words.