Matrix thoughts 2012


1. Basics of Buddhism

Buddhism teaches us that the dreality of the world is emptiness. Not only is the world empty, but we ourselves are empty and lack a self. This often misunderstood concept basically means that everything that exists is connected and intertwined with everything else, carrying contributions of all its components, but lacking a property, value or sake only of its own. This very holistic and systemic approach implies that also human beings are deeply connected to their environment and "empty" of specific own aspects that would separate the individual from the everything else. Self-centered thinking creates an illusion that the Buddhist tries to overcome in order to free his mind. Saving us from deception, the four noble truths outline the nature of reality: 1. Everybody suffers, 2. There are reasons for suffering, 3. A person can understand and overcome those reasons, 4. There is a path to a good life. Nothing in this world is permanent, except for these four truths. We will later see the consequences of these rules when fully understood and integrated into daily life. For most people a strict following of those rules is unimaginable and simply impossible, because some changes would be too drastical. "Letting go" (for example of career, material goods, lifestyles, etc.) as proposed by Buddhist worldview can not be accomplished for most people within a lifetime. In fact, Theravada teaches that it will take the average person many lifetimes to wake up and reach enlightenment. In any given room of people, it is most likely that no one in that room will reach enlightenment in this lifetime. A person who does achieve enlightenment is therefore very rare and indeed gifted. This is one of the first noticeable parallels between Buddhism and the Warner Brothers film, The Matrix [1]. The Matrix contains a conglomeration of references to Buddhism taken partly from popular culture views and partly from the beliefs of particular schools. With a brief overview of the relevant Buddhist concepts, and then an overview of the plot of The Matrix, these parallels can be illuminated.

The true nature of reality is laid out by the four noble truths. The first noble truth is suffering. Suffering is the true nature of the world and the true nature of the life cycle known as samsara. Buddhism teaches that all life is suffering. On the one hand there is unavoidable suffering due to incidences that are beyond our control. On the other - and that is the more important one in the focus of buddhist practice - there is an avoidable contribution from every individual person to his or her suffering. A simple example: You walk down a road and suddenly fall into a hole that you was not aware of. Falling into it might be painful and embarrassing, anyway you can't switch back the time, it happened, therefore this part of suffering is unavoidable. But additionally you are upset, frightened, desperate or feel "negative" in any other way. This makes your situation much worse than it would be without these (emotional or rational) effects. In daily life we often find ourselves suffering (but it must be noted here that very often we do not notice when we act in an unhealthy way). We complain about delayed trains, about bad weather, about other people, broken or damaged material belongings, etc. We suffer when we do not get what we want, and we also suffer when we do get it because we know that it will not last forever. People tend to cling to positive experiences, while at the same time distancing themselves from negative ones. Even if one is successful today, success cannot be guaranteed tomorrow. The second noble truth teaches the cause of suffering. In short, suffering is mainly caused by three character principles: Ignorance, attachment and resistance. We are ignorant whenever we are not aware of the truth, either due to false believes, to denial of truth, or to lack of knowledge. We are attached to things whenever we can't imagine to go on without them, which is often due to the human property of sticking to things that are familiar and not being perceptible for changes. We are resistant when we don't accept truths when we experience them, when we repell changes and developments. However, the third noble truth promises the cessation of suffering. By freeing one’s self from worldly desires, suffering can be terminated. Each of the three before mentioned aspects can be "fought" in specific ways. In short: Ignorance - train your awareness, open your mind; attachment - let go of things, make yourself independent from outer influences; resistance - be susceptible for changes, let go of "old" patterns. The fourth noble truth tells us that not only does an existence without suffering exist, but there is also a path to that existence. In Theravada, this is known as the eight-fold path. [2, 3]:

1. Right view: The path involves the cultivation of wisdom to overcome wrong views.

2. Right intention: Thoughts that could cause harm to yourself or others must be replaced with the intention to bring happiness to all.

3. Right speech: Because your worlds have an effect on both your spiritual development and the development of others, they must be chosen carefully.

4. Right action: You must not only avoid hurting others, but help them as well.

5. Right livelihood: Choosing a profession that is in the best interest of others is important and will help you avoid negative karma.

6. Right effort: It is important to be consciously aware of your progress. Give extra attention where it is needed. Right effort also dictates how you should react to your circumstances. Keep a little distance. Don’t be overwhelmed by either positive or negative experiences.

7. Right mindfulness: Be consciously aware of your thoughts, and the events happening around you. Of course, this applies to meditation as one of the focuses of many types of meditation is to listen to what your mind is saying.

8. Right concentration: Avoid distractions that can hinder your ability to think deeply. It also advises to do always only one thing at a time and to do everything (complicated sports performances same as daily life actions like tying the shoe bands) with the same attention. With other words: there is no "daily life". A consequence of this constant awareness is the realisation of the fact that "there is never nothing going on".

People who can attain these qualities are on the path to enlightenment. In Mahayana, the journey does not stop here. A bodhisattva as a kind of idol for other beings will - in contrast to a Buddha - refuse to enter nirvana until all beings have completed the journey. Through the power of compassion, he can help to free people from the pain of normal life (samsara). Later, we will see that the character Neo plays this role.

2. Overview of "The Matrix"

In the following I will describe only the first of the three movies since it contains enough references for a discussion.

The movie opens with an action packed chase scene on top of city skyscrapers. During the chase, Trinity, and the FBI agents following her display superhuman powers, jumping from building to building. She then escapes by diving off of one building and through a window halfway down the next. After running down the stairwell, she picks up a phone, and vanishes through the phone line just in time to avoid being flattened by a dump truck.

In one of the next scenes, the main character Thomas Anderson (hacker alias: Neo) is revealed. Neo is awakened when his computer displays the message “Wake up, Neo· · · the Matrix has you· · · Do you want to know what the Matrix is, Neo? · · · If you want to know, follow the white rabbit.” He then sees a girl with a tatoo of a white rabbit, and is guided to a nightclub where he meets Trinity. She tells him, “They’re watching you Neo. I know why you’re here, Neo · · · you’re looking for him · · · He told me I wasn’t really looking for him, I was looking for an answer.” Soon, Neo will find what this means. The next morning, Neo sleeps past his alarm and is late for work. His boss criticizes him and emphasizes that Neo must make a choice between being at his desk at time, and finding another job. There is a sense that Neo does not really like his life, but instead is just going through the motions. Neo then receives a package with a cell phone inside. The phone rings. On the other end, a new character, Morpheus speaks, and says “You are the One, Neo.” He tells Neo that he is in trouble because they are coming to get him. Morpheus attempts to guide Neo out of the building. The attempt fails and he is captured by FBI-like agents. They take him to an interrogation room and reveal that they know about his hacker activities. When Neo refuses to help them capture Morpheus, Neo’s mouth starts to seal itself closed like melting plastic. The Agents hold him down on the table and allow a mechanical bug to burrow itself into his navel. The scene cuts away and Neo again wakes up in his bed, seemingly normal. He is quickly found by Trinity, who invites him to enter her car. Trinity tells Neo that the interrogation was not a dream and proceeds to extract the bug from his stomach. When he tries to escape, she tells him “You have to trust me. You’ve been down that road before. You know exactly where it leads.” She takes him to Morpheus, and warns him. “Be honest. He knows more than you can imagine.” Morpheus tells Neo, “You feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life.” Neo then asks, “What is the Matrix?” Morpheus replies by telling him that it is, “The world pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” He then gives Neo the option to find out the truth or go back to his normal life without remembering a thing. He tells Neo that no one can be told what the matrix is, they have to see it for themselves. Neo is told to choose one of two pills. The blue pill will take him back to his normal life, whereas the red pill will allow him to see the true nature of reality. After he takes the red pill, he is brought to a computer room, and is plugged in to one of the machines. While waiting, he notices a mirror which appears to ripple like liquid. He touches the mirror, and it changes to a liquid form which begins to engulf his entire body, finally going down his throat as well. Then he awakens again. This time, he finds himself inside an alien pod. He breaks out of the pod gelatin and looks around, seing the nightmarish nature of reality. He is in a field of humans being grown in similar pods. A machine hovers to him and examines him, decides that he is no longer good, and disposes of him by dropping Neo into a liquid waste area. A long mechanical arm saves Neo from drowning and pulls him into a hovercraft. After he awakens, he finds himself lying on an examination table with hundreds of needles stuck in his body. Morpheus tells him that the answers are coming soon, and encourages him to rest. When Neo wakes up again, after several days of rest, he is introduced to the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar hovercraft. Then, Neo is again plugged into a computer, this time it is a simulation of the real world. Morpheus explains that the year is actually closer to 2199 rather than 1999. He then gives Neo an image of the horrible state of the world today and again shows him the fields of where humans are grown into slavery. He explains that at the end of the twenty-first century, humans marvelled at their own ingenuity as they created artificial intelligence (AI). A war then broke out between humans and machines. In a desperate last attempt to save themselves, the humans scorched the sky, hoping that they would cut off the machine’s only source of power. Instead the machines began to grow humans, utilizing their life-power instead. This is the awful reality from which Neo was rescued. Neo goes into shock because of his difficulty in accepting reality. After more rest, his training starts. The goal of the training is to get Neo to free his mind from false reality. Learning to defy gravity and ignore the physical bounds of the world is part of this training. He has to learn that in this computer simulation, just like inside the Matrix, his mind controls everything. Neo is told that Agents are sentient computer programs that can take the place of a Human being in the matrix at any time. They are the enemy. If Neo believes that he can defeat an Agent, then he can. Morpheus tells him, “Stop trying to hit me, and hit me!” After a few more simulations, there is a momentary emergency as sentinels (search and destroy machines) come to the ship. They are destroyed with an electro-magnetic pulse. Later, Neo meets Cypher, who is looking at the Matrix in its coded form on computer screens. The scene cuts to Cypher bargaining with the Agents who control the Matrix. He wants to be reinserted into the Matrix so he can go back to his dream world. Morpheus then leads the entire crew into the Matrix. Along the way to visit the Oracle, Trinity tells Neo, “The Matrix cannot tell you who you are.” Upon arrival, Neo sees a little Buddhist boy examining a spoon1. The boy appears to be bending the spoon by looking at it. He tells Neo, “Don’t try to bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth. There is no spoon.” Neo learns that the Orcale made a prophecy that he would come back to save everyone. She says, “Being the One is like being in love. You just know it· · · balls to bones”. After leaving, one of the crew, Mouse, receives a call informing him that the agents are near. Unable to escape in time, he is killed. At this point, Cypher turns against the crew and starts killing its members by unplugging them while they are engaged in the Matrix. He kills two crew members, Apac and Switch. Miraculously, a third crew member, Tank is able to kill Cypher before he causes any more harm. Much of the rest of the movie is a dramatic battle between Neo and the agents. The fighting is extremely difficult because Neo cannot let go of his image of the world defined by the Matrix. His first lesson came from the young Buddhist boy and we know that this lesson was important because he repeats it to himself for inspiration later in the movie. The second came from dodging a single bullet fired by an agent. During this battle, the agents capture Morpheus and interrogate him in an attempt to hack into his brain in order to discover the codes to the Zion mainframe. Zion is the last human civilization and is located at the center of the Earth where it’s still warm. Neo then leads a quest to rescue Morpheus. They are successful. While the battle inside the Matrix is occurring, there is also a second battle in the real world between the sentinels and the crew still in the ship. If the sentinels kill the crew (including Neo’s body), then Neo’s mind also dies. Just as the sentinels are about to break into the ship, Neo is shot in the chest. His EKG goes flat on the computer monitor. Trinity whispers to Neo that he must be the One because the Oracle told him that she would fall in love with the One. In one final showdown, Neo finally truly believes. He realizes that the Matrix does not exist, and therefore, there are no rules. The agents fire a dozen bullets in his direction, but since Neo knows the bullets don’t exist, the bullets just stop short of him and drop to the ground. Motion comes to a standstill as Neo dives into the body of one of the agents, splitting him in half, and turning himself into an intense white light. All this happens just in time for Neo to make it back to the ship before the Sentinels destroy it. At the end of the movie, Neo makes an announcement to the machines:

Hi. It’s me. I know you’re out there. I know you’re working as fast as you can to catch me. I thought I should call and let you know how things stand. I know you’re real proud of this world you’ve built, the way it works, all the nice little rules and such, but I’ve got some bad news. I’ve decided to make a few changes.

Just one more remark to the end of the third movie shall be made here: Neo finally wins the fight against the agent by stopping fighting. It seems the agent "kills" Neo, but it turns out to be a trap and Neo destroys the agent from its inside.

3. Buddhist references in "The Matrix"

The Buddhist references used in The Matrix come from popular views of Buddhism. Some of these views include the image of peacefulness, the importance of the middle road (not attached to extremes), the use of rational thought, the process of self discovery, and the idea of Buddhism being a very tolerable religion. In reality, Buddhism is not whatever you want to make it, but instead does have firm traditions. Some of the references in the movie can be distilled from their popular belief cognates.

Theravada teaches that meditation can lead to supernormal abilities ( [4], pp. 82). By reaching the higher stages of meditation, one can have abilities such as divine hearing, invisibility, divine eyes, recalling one’s past lives, and the ability to know what is in the hearts and minds of others. Our first glimpse of supernatural ability comes from the chase scene at the beginning of the movie. During the chase, Trinity jumps from one building to the next. The normal police officers who are also running behind stop in shock saying, “That’s impossible!” In the movie, the training routines, which often involve the martial arts, are connected to meditation. In meditation, one employs several techniques, each with a specific goal that aligns with the eight-fold path. One of the most challenging aspects of meditation is doing it without thinking about it. This is also Neo’s difficulty as he attempts to believe that the Matrix is only a computer simulation. While visiting the Oracle, a young Buddhist boy gives Neo an important lesson. He tells him that he shouldn’t try to do the impossible. Instead, he just has to realize the truth. It is the question of what the Matrix is that initially drives him to find the truth. During his entire life, Neo feels a sense of unease and has trouble believing that this world will lead him to happiness. It may be of no small coincidence that Keanu Reeves also played Siddhartha Gautama in The Little Buddha. Neo is around the same age (29) as Gautama when he begun his quest. Gautama saw that the world involved only suffering just as Neo was troubled his entire life. Neo lead a dual life as both a computer hacker and as a computer programmer at a respectable company. Neither life was fulfilling, and Neo’s relations with his boss were especially dissatisfying. Neo’s quest to find the answer can be correlated to the quest for nirvana or enlightenment. Morpheus is the one that starts Neo on this quest.

"The Matrix is everywhere, it’s all around us, here even in this room. You can see it out your window, or on your television. You feel it when you go to work, or go to church or pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth." - "What truth?" - "That you are a slave, Neo. That you, like everyone else, was born into bondage, kept inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself " [5].

A popular metaphor for clarity is the mirror in Zen Buddhism [6]. This is because a mirror simply reflects what is in front of it. Mirrors are used as symbols in several places in the movie [1]. The most striking use of a mirror is when Neo is being rescued from the Matrix. He sees a mirror, whose surface appears to ripple like water. When he touches it, it engulfs his whole body, thus symbolizing Neo’s awakening through the benefit of the mirror’s clarity [6]. Shortly later, Neo awakens, naked in his pod. This symbolizes the naked truth that he is now a wittiness to [6]. As more of a symbolic mirror, the Oracle’s statements only reflect what is in Neo’s mind. She tells him exactly what he expects to hear. Somehow, this news makes him think deeper. He cannot accept what she says, and because of this, she helped Neo in the best possible way. She got him to believe in himself without her help. The Oracle knows Neo well enough that she tells him exactly what he needs to know.

The methods Morpheus uses to find Neo and to lure him towards the answer deserve some analysis. By using his Buddha eye, the Buddha was able to know the best way to teach each individual. It is said that varieties in teaching styles lead to the different schools of Buddhism. An Indian scholar named Atisa said, “The disciple is like a patient, the Dharma is like medicine, and the master is like the doctor who diagnoses the patient’s illness and prescribes the correct medicine for his or her therapy. ([4], pp. 154)” In a similar fashion, Morpheus already knew a great deal about Neo before he met him. Upon their first meeting, Morpheus asked Neo if he believed in fate. In hearing Neo’s answer, it was obvious that Morpheus already knew the answer because of a deep connection he had with Neo. Morpheus was able to tell Neo exactly what he needed to know without giving too much extra information. When he first described the Matrix, he taught Neo in the best possible way - in a way that would not damage Neo’s mind by shocking him too quickly. He used Neo’s natural curiosity to lead him towards learning the truth of reality. Morpheus used a girl with a white rabbit tattoo to lead Neo to meet Trinity. The white rabbit could be compared to a little "white lie" (which means a lie that is told for a person's benefit). In a similar fashion, the Buddha uses a parable of children being lured out of a burning house with the promise of toys [7]. In this way, Morpheus was lead by Neo, but at the same time, Morpheus knew that Neo would someday be more important than he himself could ever be.

Both Neo and Morpheus could be classified as Bodhisattva figures. Not only do they know the depressing state of the world (Morpheus calls it the desert of the real), but they are on a mission to free all of mankind. Morpheus has made a prophecy that Neo would return in the name of this cause. He tells Neo:

When the Matrix was first built there was a man born inside that had the ability to change what he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was this man that freed the first of us and taught us the secret of the war; control the Matrix and you control the future. When he died, the Oracle at the temple of Zion prophesied his return and envisioned an end to the war and freedom for our people. That is why there are those of us that have spent our entire lives searching the Matrix, looking for him. [1]

The devotion of Morpheus is monk like, and it parallels The Little Buddha in which Lama Norbu comes to Seattle in search of the reincarnation of his dead teacher, Lama Dorje [8]. It could be said that the compassion of Morpheus allows Neo to believe. Similarly, Bodhisattvas can help people simply by having compassion for them. The compassion of Morpheus allows Neo to be a true leader. Once Neo frees himself from the deception of the Matrix, Neo defeats one of the Agents and believes that he can defeat the rest as well. He announces to the machines that he has decided to make a few changes.

Symbolism involving rebirth is also prevalent in the movie. A lesser known definition of the word matrix is the womb [9]. This is an especially strong connection to Buddhism because Buddhists believe in rebirth. When Neo wakes up inside his pod prison, he is being re-born in a sense. By being re-born, Neo left his old life of imprisonment in the Matrix and entered a life with new possibilities. In his old life, there was no possibility that he could learn of his imprisonment. This definition also seems to be the reason the directors named the movie as they did. Mitchell [4] describes a Zen Buddhist mandala called The Womb or Matrix (tazio) Mandala. This mandala represents an enlightened view of the universe from the viewpoint of compassion, and implies that he energy of compassion enfolds, protects, and nurtures one’s Buddha-nature like a womb holding a child. The many deities of this mandala represent the activities of compassion; in Tantric experience, they foster this same compassion in the practitioner. ([4], pp.253) This shows that the directors were successful in choosing a name for the movie with multiple meanings. A matrix is also a mathematical tool for storing large quantities of data. Thus it is also important in Computer Science. In general, the name has both hidden and explicit meanings, and has deep connections with Buddhism.

The machines represent all that is evil about the world, including its deception and ability to hold people to their desires. At the same time, the world is brutal and impermanent. The Agents are the physical embodiment of this evil and are akin to Maya who tried to tempt the Buddha away from his enlightenment at the Bodhi Tree. The Agents are also successful in tempting Cypher with a steak dinner. Concerning the fighting scenes in the movie: Fight is never a successful way to solve problems elementarily. What we could see in the three "Matrix"-movies in a very excessive way was fighting scenes between "free", "undocked" people and programs of the matrix, which appeared in the form of "agents". In my opinion this has to be understood as a picture: These spectacular fights illustrate the inner struggle of people with their own deadlocked mind patterns and with the programs that control the people remotely from outside. When we do not fight against the limitations of our mind, but induce an overcoming of inner limitations, then we can get a little closer to the "real world". This is illustrated by Neo winning over the agent by stopping fighting.

In addition to the major Buddhist themes in the movie, there are also some coincidental scenes worth mentioning, which can be quickly listed. When Neo is irradiated of the bugging device, this represents his purification - an important step along his path. If the bug was not destroyed, then Neo would have been killed. When Cypher was about to pull Neo’s plug, he announced: "If he is the One, then in the next few seconds there has to be some kind of miracle to stop me. Because if he dies like the others that means Morpheus was wrong. How can he be the One if he’s dead?" There was in fact such a miracle. One of the wounded men came back to life and killed Cypher. When Neo went to visit the Oracle, she examined him physically, looking for distinguishing marks. In Buddhism, there are documented signs of the Buddha in the literature. These physical signs are supposed to make the Buddha a beautiful person, and distinct from other mortals [10]. There is a key example of such an examination in Buddhist literature. When the Buddha returns to his five former companions, they ignore him, and then look for his changed appearance before they will listen to his first talk on the four noble truths. When Neo first meets the crew of the hovercraft, I noticed that they were all dressed in rags. This is an extreme contrast to the black leather and cool sunglasses they wear while inside the Matrix. The rages give them a monastic look, but their actions follow suit as well. They rise early for training each day, which consists of focusing the mind through the use of martial arts. Their entire existence is a dangerous one, so they have to always be alert. Even the food they eat while on this ship is rather plain. It’s a single substance called Tasty Wheat and it looks like old oatmeal. However, it has “all of the proteins and amino acids the body needs.” In direct comparison, the Dalai Lama also rises early for meditation, and monks must eat any food that has been given to them by lay people ([4], pp. 174). Often this means eating only loaves of bread.

4. The director's intention

When asked about Buddhism’s influence in the script, the Wachowski brothers (Andy and Larry) responded in a way that confirmed my beliefs about Buddhist references in the movie. At the same time, their response shows that they were primarily concerned with producing an entertaining movie (of course).

Yes. There’s something uniquely interesting about Buddhism and Mathematics, particularly about Quantum Physics, and where they meet. That has fascinated us for a long time [11].

As a scientist myself, I was curious about how Buddhism could have connections with Quantum Physics and Mathematics. The answer is that the connections are there, but at the same time they are not. Quantum Physics may seem to agree with Buddhism on the surface, but neither one has anything to say that will help verify the other. There are many Physicists attempting to popularize their work, but many have to exaggerate the truth in order to sell books. I believe that the drive to sell tickets to The Matrix has resulted in a similar exaggeration. I also think that the quote shows that the directors blend separate topics together in their minds. He seems to use Mathematics and Quantum Physics interchangeably. However, there is one important difference between the two subjects. Mathematics is exact and logically flawless, whereas Quantum Physics relies on experiments and approximations. Nevertheless, the connections the directors are referring to between Buddhism, Quantum Physics, and Mathematics are present. Mahayana Buddhism teaches that all entities are made up of a single entity, but this entity can take on many forms. This entity is a type of energy that underlies all existence. Quantum Physics has shown us that even atoms are made of smaller particles. There are very few types of subatomic particles that have been discovered. Yet, these particles compose all objects in our universe, thus striking a chord with the idea of an underlying energy in the Mahayana tradition. The connection to The Matrix is that Neo must learn what underlies the apparent reality of the Matrix. In his case, the underlying quantity could be seen to be electrons zooming around inside the computers that run the Matrix simulation. Built upon this lowest level are the computers, the code that instructs the computers, and finally the false reality that the computer simulations create. Neo’s way to defeat this false reality is simply to realize that the false reality is just a computer simulation and it really can be reduced to just electrons zooming around.

The directors chose an epic topic around which to build their movie. I find that many of the best movies deal with great unanswered questions. And of these, the very best usually find some way to tie in religion. I believe that this is because religion is a person’s definition of what is sacred. If a movie touches a person so deeply that they consider it a sacred experience, they will remember it for a long time. They will also begin to attempt to answer the questions the movie posed. By sacred, I mean that the experience of going to the movie was above that of normal daily life. In the case of The Matrix, some people (myself included) sat in their seat for 136 minutes and completely forgot they were watching a movie. Personally, I think the directors were very smart to use Buddhist references. This is particularly true if you consider the target audience to be primarily Americans and Europeans. Since the directors are American, we can assume this is the case. The average European knows very little about Buddhism. If they know a little more than average, they would know enough to understand some of the references in The Matrix. When most Europeans think of Buddhism, they think of meditation, and maybe Zen rock gardens. The directors actually used this lack of knowledge to their advantage. There are elements of religion in the movie, but at the same time, much of the European audience did not realize that they were getting a religion lesson. Most Europeans do not watch the media for education reasons. The ideas of Buddhism are foreign to Europeans, and therefore seem novel and exciting, even exotic. I would be curious to talk to people from various Asian countries to get their reactions on the movie. I have to believe that many Asians who are familiar with Buddhism would have connected with The Matrix differently than Europeans did. For me, answering the questions that The Matrix poses is an ongoing process - one which brings me a number of new perspectives and insights.

5. References

[1]    The Matrix DVD. Warner Brothers, 1999.

[2]    C. S. Anderson. Pain and Its Ending : the Four Noble Truths in the Theravada Buddhist canon. Curzon critical studies in Buddhism. Richmond, Surrey : Curzon, 1999.

[3]    J. Landaw and S. Bodian. Buddhism for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc., New York, 2003.

[4]    D. W. Mitchell. Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience. Oxford University Press, New York, 2002.

[5]    L. Wachowski and A. Wachowski. The Matrix: Movie Script. April 1996. Retrieved June 14th, 2012. Online

[6]    W. Irwin. The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real. Benbella, Dallas, TX, 2003.

[7]    L. Hurvitz. Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma (The Lotus Sutra). Translated from the Chinese of Kumarajiva rolls 1-4, 7, and 8.

[8]    J. Berardinelli. Review: Little Buddha. Colossus.net, 1994. Retrieved June 14th, 2012. Online.

[9]    Online Dictionary

[10]    The Signs of a Great Man. Dhammakaya Foundation, 2002.

[11]    Matrix Virtual Theatre: Wachowski Brothers Transcript. November 1999. Retrieved June 15th, 2012. Online

Additional links:

http://www.thedailyenlightenment.com/matrix.htm

http://www.helsinki.fi/~papinnie/matrix.html