The Departure of the Hero in “The Matrix”

Neo, a simple employee of a software company, encounters an enigmatic figure named Morpheus who asks him whether he really wants to know the whole truth behind human existence.

The Departure of the Hero in “The Matrix”

The current status of humanity is reflected on all levels in its solidified limitations. In different spiritual traditions it is explained that man had once lived on a high divine level and that his original form has been broken like a crystal mirror; and that now it is a matter of reclaiming the shards and putting them back together. Could this be a motive that unconsciously underlies the “path of the hero”? This path requires the courage to set out on a journey, such as only the hero has, who sets out in desperation and is prepared to sacrifice himself completely for this task to regain “reality”. The awakening man is faced with this task – no matter how inconspicuous he may seem to be. In the science fiction epic Matrix, the inconspicuous Thomas Anderson alias Neo embodies this awakening person.

Neo is a simple employee of a software company and earns some extra money at night as a hacker. The protagonist’s name already announces an imminent renewal, something new, maybe a fundamental change. Subtly, Neo clearly senses that the world is not what it seems. He searches for answers, whose associated questions he does not yet know. Many of us know such or similar situations from our own lives. Curiosity is Neo’s driving force, and so he sets out on a search for the truth on the Internet, where he encounters an enigmatic figure named Morpheus. He is wanted by the government as a dangerous terrorist and is classified as a danger to the system. In Greek mythology, Morpheus is the god of dreams and sleep. The profundity of his name suggests that he will play an important role in Neo’s awakening process.

Another important person in the adventure on which Neo is about to set out is the attractive Trinity: By asking specific questions, she makes Neo feel she knows more about him and the real world. She can finally convince Neo to place himself in her hands, and so she initiates a meeting between him and Morpheus. The name Trinity refers to a trinity in man, which must be reunited to form a unity: mind, soul and body.

Do you really want to know the whole truth?

At their first meeting, Morpheus confronts Neo with the legendary question of whether he really wants to know the whole truth behind human existence. Neo affirms this and thus takes the first step into a reality still unknown to him. He does not yet seem to be aware of the extent of his fundamental decision. It reaches into the depths of his existence. It once took a long time of preparation to be able to really follow the invitation that was engraved at the entrance of the Apollo temple at Delphi:

Gnothi seauton – Man, know thyself.

The Lebanese writer and philosopher Mikhail Naimy proclaimed the message:

“Do not ask things to take off their veils. Uncover yourself, and things will be unveiled.” (in: The Book of  Mirdad)

In this sense, Morpheus would like to encourage Neo to open his eyes, the inner eyes that recognize truly and unveiled. In order to truly enter this reality outside the illusory matrix, Neo is confronted by Morpheus with the decision to choose between the red and the blue pill: He chooses the red one, which symbolically represents the left hemisphere of the brain. It is about acting on the basis of deeper insight. By swallowing the red pill and by being tied to special tubes, the connection to reality is achieved. Neo “sees”, he recognizes himself and the world in which he lives: he awakens in a dark and dreary surreal landscape littered with glass containers with jelly-like contents. In these containers are human beings connected to computers via tube-like cables, without noticing it. These people live in an illusory awareness of freedom and self-determination. Sealed off from reality, they are used as batteries, as enormous energy power plants for the machines of artificial intelligence and are energetically permanently tapped.

Why do my eyes hurt so much?

Neo painfully recognizes in which the otherwise imperceptible prison and illusion humanity lives. When he awakens from this nightmare of reality, he asks Morpheus:

“Why do my eyes hurt so much?” Morpheus replies: “Because you’ve never used them before!”

After this – in the truest sense of the word – “trip”, Morpheus enlightens Neo about reality and shows him that it consists of electrical signals of thoughts, feelings, smells, sensations and perceptions that are interpreted by the mind. The machines “feed” themselves, so to speak, from the energies that emerge from the illusions of man. Neo will later lose his physical sight in the fight against a traitor, but in return will receive a higher and more intuitive consciousness. In this way he experiences a kind of “resurrection”. First, on the path of truth, the illusion about the Matrix is taken away from him. Then the fight for freedom and redemption of humanity begins.

The Kingdom of God, into which the righteous can enter, is called Zion in the Bible. In the Matrix epic, this is the name for the place where the rebels of the system live, i.e. the righteous who are to be set free and who, according to a prophecy, will be redeemed by “the One”. The name Neo is an anagram of The One. He seems to be the One who will end the slavery of the Matrix and thus save the people. Morpheus is convinced that Neo is the Chosen One, and he begins training him for his heroic task of epic proportions. An initiation takes place, and with it begins the struggle for the return to the source. The hero Neo is the “little stone that makes an avalanche roll”! This metaphor can be applied to all heroes. Frodo Beutlin in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy or Harry Potter also represent such an inconspicuous hero who, with the support of allied like-minded people, does great things to restore the natural balance, an original state. Like Neo, they are given all the help they need for the path of return.

In each of us rests the predisposition to the legendary hero of science fiction, fairy tale and myth, and it is up to us to listen attentively to this natural divine predisposition and to set out on a path that every human being can follow individually – with the help of supernatural powers, of course. In the heroic epics this help is mostly symbolized by friends, teachers and companions. And the supernatural help is expressed in Psalm 121:

“I lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.

My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to slip; and he that keepeth thee will not slumber.”


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Date: January 11, 2020
Author: Myriam Häntzschel (Germany)
Photo: PixxlTeufel auf Matrix CCO

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