In the funny way the universe works, the universe told me to watch The Matrix. First I heard one person mention it on a podcast as an example of how mindfulness practice can help us see through delusion. Then someone else mentioned how we all must make the choice between the red pill and the blue pill. The last straw was walking into my living room on Sunday, to see Neo (Keanu Reeves) there on my television in all his expressionless wonder. My partner had decided to watch it, not knowing that The Matrix was on my mind. I'm not even going to speculate how that happened. I didn't then either. I just sat down and folded the laundry while I watched.
The Matrix is a wonderful piece of comic book camp. If you don't think so you probably haven't watched it in a while. The intervening decades have been pretty kind. Stopping bullets with your mind is still pretty cool. Mostly I love Neo's costume - all that fabric flowing slowly as he jumps and swirls around like a dancer.
But seriously folks....
Faith is a key theme in The Matrix, especially in The Matrix Reloaded (which I watched later the same day). Is Neo the One? Who is the Oracle? Can she be trusted? Will the prophecy come true and Zion will be saved by Neo and friends? Morpheus believes so. Neo believes it eventually. Thousands of people in Zion believe it. Is their faith enough to make it true?
Faith and trust go hand in hand. Both are required for any human cooperative endeavor, especially true of saving the world. Can we trust those who tell us they know our destiny? Are we the makers of our own destiny? Do we really have free will? Is there ever really a choice? Are we victim to our feelings, our patterns?
So many questions!
Maybe we aren't going to be asked to save all of humankind. But we do have the choice whether we save ourselves from The Matrix - from the delusions of our minds and the rantings of our passions. We can save ourselves from the toxic society that tells us all our wildest dreams can come true if only we lose that 15 pounds, get the new car, win the prettiest girl, or scrabbled our way to the top. The Matrix tells us everything we need is outside of us. The Matrix is everything we need. But this is a lie, a program built by people without our best interests at heart, in order to keep us a slave to Capitalism, the Patriarchy, and White Supremacy. Mindfulness can bring us liberation.
We are the droid we looking for. Wait, wrong Sci fi movie classic.
What role does faith have in mindfulness? A lot. Faith in yourself to keep going, to keep letting go and beginning again. Faith that this practice is worth all the effort, that we will reach liberation, however fleeting.
We also have to divest ourselves from The Matrix. It isn't real. The limitations it applies to us based on our gender, race, geography, class, etc. are false. We don't have to believe them. We can stop the metaphorical bullets with our mindfulness. Ok, maybe that one goes a little far. But you get the idea. Our mindfulness will allow us the eyes to see clearly. See our thoughts, our feelings, the reality of our situations, sometimes even the path before us.
"There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path." - Morpheus
That line right there is the thing from the Matrix that I will carry with me. There's a difference between the intellectual pursuits of mindfulness and the practice of sitting on the cushion and bringing these ideas into life. There's a difference between being aware of the toxins of our society and then doing something about it. There is a difference between understanding the systematic oppression and liberating ourselves and others.
Walk the path.