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Lions Roar : May 2016
Krista Tippett Perfect Sense directed by David McKenzie (2011) I actually watch more television than films these days, but one film that came quickly to mind is Perfect Sense. It premiered at Sundance a few years ago but never got much attention. I found it exquisite. Ewan McGregor Jessica Pimentel The Matrix directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski (1999) There are many references in The Matrix to Buddhist philosophy and the journey to enlightenment. The main theme of the film is that reality is not what it appears to be—it is a result of our perceptions and to know the true nature of all things requires us to “wake up” and to “free our mind.” This is a beautiful parallel to the Buddha, who is referred to as “The Awakened One.” The idea that the world around us can change if we learn to con- quer our mind is an essential teaching of Buddhism. While there are messages in The Matrix that echo all schools of Buddhism, the one that resonates with me the most is the theme of the guru and the student They say when the student is ready the teacher appears. Neo feels a deep dis- content with the world around him and knows something is not right. As many of us who enter the Buddhist path do, he literally hacks his way through his reality to try to get the answers. Then he is met with the words of his teacher, Mor- pheus: “ Wake up, Neo.” The teacher has the map, the cook- book, the training. The teacher is the one who advises, teaches, disciplines, and encourages us to go beyond our comfort zone in order to gain deeper levels of understanding. We will find ourselves having to take leaps of faith, as Neo does—literally—because the instructions of the teacher must be experienced directly to fully grasp their meaning and gain understanding. But in the end the teacher can only show us the way. It is the student alone who must go forward. Like Neo, we must believe in our teacher—and in ourselves. JESSICA PIMENTEL plays Maria in Orange Is the New Black. See her inter- view on page 17. ©WARNERBROS/RONALDGRANTARCHIVE/ALAMYSTOCKPHOTO “Wake Up, Neo”: The teacher shows us how to free ourselves from the false reality we have created.