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Lions Roar : November 2019
Weekend Wisdom features favorite selections from the Lion’s Roar Weekend Reader. Every Friday, the Reader explores important themes and highlights related articles from our archives that you can enjoy over the weekend. Go to lionsroar.com/newsletters to sign up and read the full articles referenced in this essay. illusory prison of the mind—a handy metaphor for the Buddhist concept of samsara. At one point the film’s villain, Agent Smith, even goes so far as to say, “I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery.” In my opinion, Smith is right: we humans do create a world of suffering for ourselves. But Morpheus, a sort of spiri- tual guide in the movie, is also right: we can exit that world of suffering. In Bud- dhist terms, we can attain nibbana. How do we do that? In The Matrix, Morpheus takes Neo out onto the roof of a building in a virtual reality simulation. “Let it all go, Neo,” he says. “Fear. Doubt. Disbelief. Free your mind.” Morpheus runs and jumps off of the building, land- ing on another roof fifty feet away. “Okie dokie,” says Neo. “Free my mind. Right. No problem.” ➢ TWENTY YEARS AGO, The Matrix was released. Though a lot of it went over my eight-year-old head, it instantly became an all-time favorite. The film’s central con- cept—that all of humanity exists in a simu- lation called “the Matrix”—blew my mind. The movie had that effect on lots of people. A popular theory arose that, sta- tistically, it’s extremely likely that human- ity exists only in such a simulation. To this day, philosophers, tech moguls, and journalists openly debate the question, “Do we live in a Matrix-like illusion?” The Buddha settled that question two- and-a -half millennia ago with a resound- ing “yes.” That’s why so many people view The Matrix as a kind of Buddhist allegory. (Spoilers to follow.) The Matrix itself is humanity’s self-constructed WEEKEND WISDOM Let It Go, Neo Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, The Matrix has long been mined for its Buddhist messages. SAM LITTLEFAIR looks at the key Buddhist concepts it teaches SAM LITTLEFAIR is the editor of lionsroar.com. VAJRAYANA ONLINE Courses and resources to explore Buddhism with practical guidance from Mingyur Rinpoche. Course Offerings Open to All • Ngondro • Retreat • The Three Yanas • The Six Paramitas • Exploring Reality • Life and Teachings of the Buddha • Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism • Foundations of Vajrayana Buddhism • Dying Every Day – Essence of the Bardos Visit: learning.tergar.org/Vajrayana LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2019 25