Beyond the Matrix

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    Featured Columnist – Meditations
    Martin LeFerve

    Set to the lyrics from Willy Wonka’s “A world of pure imagination,” the business ad invites participants into a brave new world of technology, where the only reality is what the mind and self invent at whim.

    Will the rich soon live in self-made realities affording permanent escape from pollution, poverty, and injustice? Is a Matrix world really possible? In a deeper sense, it already exists.

    In that iconic Hollywood movie, the outer world no longer exists, except as a labyrinth of wires and tubes sustaining and connecting all human brains in a symbiotic and parasitic web. The quasi-living brains provide the juice to sustain the Matrix, and the Matrix provides the wired brains with a comfortable state of delusion to avoid the actuality of the world.

    Human beings don’t have such an option. Escape just breeds more misery, which in turn requires further escape. The end is not perfect escape, but death. And since reincarnation is a fact, even death doesn’t provide escape.

    As with all good allegories, the Matrix describes what is. It’s the content-consciousness that all people share at the core. It’s the polluted sea of collective consciousness in which every person swims. It’s the implicit web of thought made explicit by the invention of the Net.

    Most people in the West have numbed or deadened themselves to it. In taking the path of escape, there comes a point where darkness and emptiness become intolerable. Willful ignorance means having to shut off and shut down as a human being, and that in turn engenders tremendous inward weakness, making one a conduit for collective darkness.

    The living dead imagine that they’ll be able to artificially feel human again in a virtual world, without all the trouble of actually having to work through their issues. Denuding the earth, they are deluding themselves.

    The 81-year-old engineer who invented the cell phone, Marty Cooper, says that even though “privacy is a thing of the past,” we don’t have to worry about being completely controlled, because “they won’t be able to read our minds for a few generations.”

    That gives solace only to the dead, and to old codgers who won’t live to see the coward’s world they are creating. They can afford to be sanguine about the human prospect, and make such prophecies as “man and machine will become one.”

    But can one really go beyond the matrix of thought, to which we’re all inseparably connected? Letting go of the illusion of ‘my thoughts,’ and ‘my consciousness,’ and attending within oneself to the movement of thought as a whole (without the illusory center as ‘me’), one frees oneself from the matrix.

    Following a series of almost unprecedented storms this late in the spring in Central California, the gate to Upper Park is closed. The gravel road becomes too potholed if they allow vehicles in before it dries.

    But it was just as well, as there are a lot of people in town for the college’s graduation ceremonies, and many of them would have been streaming into the canyon, potholes or no potholes.

    There are three trails–one along the ridge, one at mid-level of the slope below the dark volcanic escarpment, and one along the creek. I take the one following the creek, a couple hundred meters below the road, and am immediately struck again by how different Upper Park is from Lower Park, which runs through town and is less than a mile away as the crow flies.

    The canyon/gorge is a much wilder and more natural place, despite being frequented by townspeople. Less than two miles in, I find a perfect spot with a small, slightly sloping edge in front of a quietly rippling section of the stream.

    Calling it a creek or stream is somewhat of a misnomer after the rains and during the run-off from the mountains. Today it’s more like a small, raging river.

    During methodless meditation, one effortlessly and imperceptibly leaves everything behind—the world, one’s problems, even one’s life–in the act of inclusive, non-self-centered attention.

    Others may be able to do that in their rooms, but for me nature is the mirror, the teacher, and the portal. One simply passively observes the inner and outer movement in the mirror of nature, until the observer yields, time ends, and thought stops.

    Imagination is such a paltry thing really. It has its place in the design of beautiful bridges and buildings, and in art. But it has to wither like last year’s grapes on the vine for the infinite richness of life to be.

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