Hollywood’s “Matrix”

In case you didn’t see my recent newsletter or the web, this is what Hindustan Times (of India) published on February 22, 2002. They paid Rs.1000.00 for this short article entitled, “The secret message of Hollywood’s “Matrix.” START: Verse 7.14 of Bhagavad-gita tells us that Maya can be conquered only by surrender. Maya is difficult to overcome. But, the Gita states that those who have surrendered can easily cross over it. The Hollywood film, “Matrix”, is a tale that says the world is illusory — a ‘virtual reality’ created by machines that has taken over the planet earth. They have subdued and grown humans, using them like batteries, to power the grand deception we call the world. Neo or Mr. Anderson (Keanu Reeves), the film’s hero, is killed by the machines but is brought back to life ostensibly through the love of Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), his female partner. And VCD and VHS renters beware: there’s no sex in Matrix. What appears to be a Buddhistic portrayal of a world that is fake, turns out to be a kind of love story. Two lost souls magically find each other and achieve victory amidst the ruins. Neo comes back from the dead, and becomes the leader of a militant underground, supposed to consist of the only Homo Sapiens left alive after the machine takeover. Death is conquered by love, and not simply by realizing the world is “unreal”, or in Vedic terms, illusory or “Maya.” Neo is miraculously brought back to life by Trinity, who confesses to his lifeless frame that she has fallen in love with a dead man, but she makes it clear that she’s NOT AFRAID ANY MORE. Her attitude of unconditional surrender parallels what the Gita tells us about conquering Maya. And since the purpose of this column is to interpret life transcendentally, we can see human love exhibited in Matrix as super mundane. It’s rare that an American film would attempt to teach us something higher. But clearly Matrix was made with that in mind. The world we inhabit — the one we see, touch, smell, taste and feel — is an illusion. And yet there is something that IS real – something that is beyond, something more compelling than a meretricious apparition. That something may be described as divine love or the Krishna factor. Out of all the grotesqueness that emanates from Hollywood, a film with supernatural intent is a rarity. Its success at the box office should be welcomed along with the observation that millions of people – those not bedazzled by the project’s special effects and violence – are in fact in search of the divine. Matrix, indirectly shows that devotion, or bhakti, is the turning point at which we can — in a natural way — overcome the forces of evil and illusion that trap us in a shadow world not of our own making.