A SPLINTER IN YOUR MIND
The Wachowski Brothers’ extraordinary film The Matrix is not only great science fiction but also a philosophical masterpiece. It allows us to visualize what has been a classic science fiction theme from the beginning of the genre, the idea that perhaps reality is not what it seems to be. It allows us to consider our own responses to the thought, what if it were true? what if what we perceived as being “reality” turned out to be a manipulation, a fantasy, a dream, or worse?
The hero of the story is Thomas Anderson, by day a programmer for a large software company and by night a computer hacker, alias Neo. His clandestine activities get him in trouble with the police, who offer to clear his record if he will help them to catch “the most dangerous man alive”, Morpheus. When Anderson refuses to co-operate, the police demonstrate their extraordinary coercive powers against him, and he realizes he is powerless to resist them.
But Morpheus intervenes and rescues him from the police , and at their first meeting Morpheus presents him with an unusual proposition. The conversation between the two men is simple, yet profound.
“Sit down, Neo.” Morpheus remains standing.
He looks Neo straight in the eye and says, “I imagine that right now, you are feeling a bit like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, hmm?”
“You could say that.”
“I can see it in your eyes,” says Morpheus, “ You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically this is not far from the truth.” He pauses, turns, then adds, “Do you believe in fate, Neo?”
“Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.”
“I know exactly what you mean!” Morpheus points knowingly at Neo. He he sits down and leans back in his chair. After a tight pause, he leans forward and continues: “Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.”
Like a splinter in your mind.
“ It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?”
Neo hesitates, then replies, “The Matrix?”
“Do you want to know what it is?”
“The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, and when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes.” Morpheus narrows his eyes. “It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”
“That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch… a prison for your mind.” Here Morpheus pauses, as if lost for words. He sighs and continues: “Unfortunately no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”
All I’m offering is the truth.
There is another long pause as Morpheus sets two pills, one blue and one red, on the table between them, next to a glass of water. Then he says, “This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
Neo sits as if frozen to his chair, eyes wide, staring at the two pills. Morpheus motions for Neo to pick one of the two pills and adds, “ Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more.”
WHICH PILL WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Which would you choose? Perhaps you would say, “I like things the way they are; I’m not searching for more.” Then you would take the blue pill, and forget all about it. But perhaps you have had a splinter in your mind for many years, and you want to find out more…or, perhaps you would say, “this offer has never come before, what if it’s never made again?”
THE CHANCE TO WAKE UP
The film The Matrix, we know, is fiction. But a fictitious story can be used to teach a factual lesson. Think of Aesop’s fables, for instance. Most of the really complicated ideas in life are best understood through a story, an analogy…a parable.
Jesus Christ told many stories, or “parables”. The simple stories were meant to explain complicated spiritual truths, truths often hard to understand from our ordinary human perspective . There are many things which the Bible teaches that are mystifying. For instance, the mysterious passage in 2 Corinthians 4:18:
“… we look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
The implication is that the reality that we see is a temporarily constructed universe designed to prepare us for the permanent reality we know as “eternity”. What does this mean? It means that things are not exactly as they seem. And the writer of the passage, the apostle Paul, suggests that there are people in this world who can see past the physical world, past the temporary world, to the eternal world.
Do you want to be part of that group, the “we look not at the things which are seen” group? Then something is going to have to happen to you. You’re going to have to make a decision, just like Neo had to make a decision. He had to decide which pill to take, the blue pill to stay where he was, or the red pill to “wake up”.
Jesus Christ taught the same thing. That in order to really see we would have to be “awakened” first. The Bible says in Ephesians5:14:
“…awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
What does this mean? Like the Matrix, it’s not easy to explain. You really have to experience it to understand it.
The question is, do you want to be awakened?