The Matrix Is Real, And It Is Here

October 7, 2020

When the Matrix movies first gained immense popularity in 1999, the notion of an imaginary world in which everyone was enslaved seemed just that, imaginary.

Pop culture didn’t look deep enough to reveal that ancient tradition of Maya, the Sanskrit term for an all-enveloping illusion that, for real, envelops all of us. When Maya was discussed, it belonged to an exotic worldview that no modern person in the West gave much credence to.

But that’s how illusion keeps us entranced, by making it seem, as in the brilliant movies, that the matrix constitutes real life. Clearly a better explanation is needed in order to convince the average person, not so much that we all live in a dream/spell/illusion, but that it can be escaped.

The most necessary role of the human brain is to present a picture of reality that fits our needs, or to be more accurate, the needs of our ancestors in the hominid lineage. The primary need was for survival, which Darwinians break down into two elements, food and mating. But clearly there were other needs that separated hominids out from other mammals, including shelter and a peaceful community at the physical level.

Far more crucial, however, was the emergence of human needs that are primarily a matter of higher consciousness. These include free will, language, art, writing, love, compassion, altruism, creativity, and above all, self-awareness.

These qualities make us human, and in the process of evolving, they became completely entangled in a unified setup we can call the matrix or Maya—terminology isn’t important here. The important thing, which the movie got right, is that you and I are the matrix. We are not in it, nor is there any separation between the things we perceive “out there”—rocks, trees, buildings, sky, other people—and the things we perceive “in here”—thoughts, sensations, images, and feelings. So seamless is the matrix that countless people go through life accepting it on appearance alone.

This, in fact, is the basis of scientific inquiry, which gives primary importance to physical objects as the basis of reality. With all respect to the incredible advances of science and technology, such a worldview is only a convenient fiction, the very fiction that the dream/spell/illusion has thrown us into all the way back to our survival instincts. What motivation do we have, then, for trying to escape? The answer lies outside the matrix, because once you are the matrix, you can’t escape unless you find a way to escape yourself.

The key word here is “self.” When the doctrine of Maya arose in India’s ancient past, it was unlike any other concept, thought, teaching, or everyday fact. Nor was it a religious notion or someone’s stroke of genius. Instead, there was a natural relationship to Maya that we have lost.

It was the relationship of a creator to his/her creation. Realizing that the human mind had constructed the matrix, the ancient rishis kept in mind that being fooled by your own creation isn’t desirable. But everyday life was beset by amnesia. No one looked at himself and said, “this whole world is something my mind created.

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