Tag: meditation

Spoiler Alert: If you have never seen the matrix, be warned the following piece describes pivotal scenes.

There is a moment towards the end of the Matrix that I find compelling to contemplate.

Inside the Matrix, Neo collapses after being showered in bullets. His body in the real world flatlines and it appears that he is dead. Trinity leans in close, her lips to his ear, she tells him to get the hell up. Well, first she tells him that he must be ‘The One’ because the Oracle told her that she would fall in love with ‘The One’ and since she had fallen in love with him then he must be ‘The One’, so he had better get the hell up! She kisses him in the real world and inside the matrix, his avatar (residual self-image) gets the hell up.

The first time I saw ‘The Matrix’ this part really annoyed me. It felt forced and cheesy. On subsequent viewings, I softened as a deeper meaning emerged. What follows when Neo gets up is another wave of bullets, only this time Neo believes he is ‘The One’. He’s taken Trinity’s belief in him, communicated either through her forcefully whispered words or her kiss, and he has converted that into belief in himself. As for the bullets, well they just keep coming. Now Neo[1], sees that he can’t stop the bullets from being fired but he can stop them from harming him. Remember this is a metaphor, real bullets actually kill, but metaphorical ones can drop to the ground. Bullets will keep coming but what Neo is doing is choosing how they affect him.

I entreat you to contemplate this moment by choosing your own metaphor. The bullets could be anxiety, financial stress, a problem relationship, frustrations or other complications in your life. The fact is once you learn to control your response to them that won’t actually stop them coming at you. But their impact on you can and will change.

Buddha described the same idea as arrows turning into flowers. Your mind chooses how you see things and how they will affect you. To me, the film-makers are telling us that we and only we are ‘The One’ in our own lives. It’s only ourselves that can determine how the bullets that life fires at us will impact. Will you be mortally wounded, or will you put up your hand and say ‘No’. There is always a choice to do things differently. We just have to find awareness of the moment and realise our own control of it.

I’m grateful to both the film-makers and my meditation practice for offering the opportunity to look from a different perspective.

Evan Shapiro
Author – Road to Nowhere

[1] Anagram of One

There are two times of year traditionally set aside for clearing out the old to bring in the new. Springing cleaning, a human reflection of seasonal change, and the new year, also based on seasonal renewal but perhaps a more human defined concept of new beginnings.

I’m caught up in the latter. I have completely removed the contents of my wardrobe in the name of rationalisation. My floor is covered in items collected during the coarse of my life. They represent links to past moments, past careers, past relationships and past ideas. My bed is covered in clothes that need to be sorted; those to be kept, those to be discarded. I have to etch out a space in the mountain of material to sit for my daily meditation practice.

Being surrounded by this multitude of items that represent my life is probably not the best environment in which to meditate, however I have a commitment to a daily practice so I go ahead. What I find when I close my eyes is that all these objects are now floating around in my mind. But this is meditation. What I’m seeing is my minds projection. These mental objects and their connection to me can be easily altered. With each breath I can melt them away.

When I open my eyes I see all these things around me and the difference between the representations in my mind and the ‘real’ objects is suddenly negligible. While I can’t melt these ‘real’ ones away with my mind I can choose how they affect me. I can choose to keep or discard. They may have physical properties but it is still my mind, aided by my senses that is creating them for me to perceive, giving them permission to be good or bad distractions.

I sit a little longer amongst my possessions, both connected and disconnected from them. Suddenly this seems the perfect place to meditate because if I can’t work out how to see beyond all the distractions before me how will I see passed all the distractions that life throws at me every day.

I hear the sound of someone outside. A car starts, a train goes by, someone in the kitchen puts the kettle on, a work deadline appears, shopping lists and domestic demands rise as though tangible. I breath and take in these ‘distractions’ rather than fight against them. Just like all the objects surrounding me, these ‘distractions’ are only happening in my mind, aren’t they? It’s only me here, in my head. It’s only me deciding what to keep and what to clear away.

Evan Shapiro