The Matrix’s Desert Of The Real Vs Altered Carbon’s Garden Of The Virtual

In ‘The Matrix’ is this introductory dialogue on the titled… Morpheus: [In a white boundless space, which represents the mind’s open possibilities for simulated experiences.] This is the construct. It’s our loading program. We can load anything, from clothing to equipment, weapons, training simulations, anything we need. Neo: Right now, we’re inside a computer program? Morpheus: Is it so hard to believe?… Your appearance now is what we call residual self-image. It’s the mental projection of your digital self.

Note [1]: In essence, we are all experiencing some form of a matrix, even if not a computer program, as shaped by our karma, habitual forces and attitude. When our eyes are closed, about to sleep, the dark canvass is our construct, upon which we load our subconscious routines and perceptions in dreams. When our eyes open, we deludedly cling on to a sense of ‘self’ despite our fluxing aggregates, as loading continues on the alternate channel of ‘real’ life. Whether we are able to load what we need or not would depend on our karmic conditions, motivations and efforts.

Neo: [Touching chair] This isn’t real? Morpheus: What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. This is the world that you know. [Turns on TV, which shows a modern skyline.] The world as you know at the end of the 20th century. It exists now only as part of a neural interactive simulation that we call the Matrix. You’ve been living in a dream world, Neo. This is the world as it exists today. [Switches channel which changes environment to a desolated cityscape.] Welcome to the desert of the real.

Note [2]: With or without actual physical counterparts, ‘reality’ is relatively experienced by individuals, as mental simulations, according to the factors in Note [1], but it can also be experienced communally by those with similar collective karma. As long as we are not fully awakened Buddhas, we are all living in the equivalent of dreamlike worlds now. Even when physically awake, we are yet to be fully mindful, much less spiritually awake. Spiritual practice is thus the journey to further awake, until objective reality is experienced. The desert of the real however, is not a pleasant ‘reality’ to wake up to. Yet, the Matrix does not simulate paradise to counter it, only offering the illusion of its possibility within it.

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As a parallel, in season two of ‘Altered Carbon’, Jack Soul Brasil who leads the Renouncers introduces his virtual ‘paradise’ to Poe: Reality is just an agreed upon illusion. [Holds and passes a flower.] If you can see it, smell it, who’s to say what’s real? [Flower withers in Poe’s hand, representing ageing, sickness and death, as he tosses it away quickly.] Poe: It is a very good construct. Brasil: Well, everything’s a construct. Out there, in here. We’re just aware of it. Violence, war, suffering, they have no place in the garden I have programmed. And that is why so many have come, seeking refuge… I don’t think you understand the boundless happiness that can be created simply from your own mind.

Note [3]: Brasil heads a kind of ‘cult’ that offers an extensively simulated garden ‘paradise’, urging humans to renounce the crudeness of the ‘real’ world for his idealised virtual one. It can only be experienced by those with similar collective karma, who are willing to pay the price to enter. As Poe was not a human who could be misled by sensory inputs, but an A.I program with a glitch, his interaction there could corrupt parts of the garden. This is a giveaway that the karmically conditioned garden was no stable refuge, no enlightened or lasting Pure Land. Immeasurable bliss can indeed by created from the mind, but only from a completely awakened one, with perfect compassion and wisdom for all.

Note [4]: Donning a pseudo-robe and offering meditation temples, Brasil did not teach true renunciation, which is of the Three Poisons of greed, hatred and delusion. Though dulling hatred, the world he shaped sustained greed and delusion. Though a much nicer world than the everyday Matrix-simulated one, it was still illusory. So, which is better — the desert or the garden? Being extreme opposites in terms of pain and pleasure, which spur hatred and greed respectively, they equally distract from the true path — which is to fully awaken for liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Only then is there True Happiness. With its pure construct run by his fully enlightened mind, Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land guarantees such Ultimate Bliss, both spiritually and physically, with all Three Poisons deactivated!

Related Articles:

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From Life As ‘Surrogates’ To Being ‘Altered Carbon’

Are You Plugging Into The Right ‘Machine’?

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