It’s pretty clear what one of the more common movie themes is:
Neo: Choice. This is about choice.
Architect: As you adequately put, the problem is choice.
The Oracle: We can never see past the choices we don’t understand.
The Oracle: Because you didn’t come here to make the choice, you’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand WHY you made it.
Merovingian: Choice is an illusion created between those with power and those without.
Cypher: If I had to choose between that and the Matrix, I’d choose the Matrix
And of course the choice that launched Neo onto the path:
Morpheus: You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
And how he turns the tables at the end of the first movie:
Neo: I’m going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.
“Choice” is a critical concept along everyone’s spiritual path. First, a person has to see past their present view of reality and “believe” that there is more. In the Torah, Abraham is a prime example of this. At a young age he looked past the forces of nature and contemplated that there must be a Creator to all of these.
In the Matrix we see this at the beginning of Neo’s path:
Morpheus: I know EXACTLY what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
The idea of ‘restricting’ from all we think we know, in order for something new to enter into our mind and lives is called tsimtsum, and discussed in more detail in another part of this study.
A key figure in the Matrix for initiating choice and change is the Oracle. All the main characters have some connection to the Oracle. Her role is to help each person get on their correct path:
Morpheus: You saw the Oracle? What did she tell you?
Niobe: Same thing she always does: exactly what I needed to hear.
Morpheus: What was said was for you and for you alone … She told you exactly what you needed to hear, that’s all.
The Oracle’s message begins a process of tsimtsum. She is the ‘driving force’ behind choice in the Matrix, as she is the one, who in her own words, “unbalances the equation.”
It is when we experience such ‘unbalance’ in our own lives, that we recognize we have ‘choice’ and opportunity to advance. Such imbalances take place from the most significant parts of our lives down to the most mundane levels of choice. It also explains why Torah teaches us that even suffering may be for our own benefit, and why, “ALL things work for the good for those who love G-d.”
For Neo, “choice” runs throughout the movies and always opens the door (often literally) to move forward along the path of the One. Prior to his first encounter with Trinity, Neo exists at the soul-level called NEFESH which is the ‘basic’ soul that enables us to function. This essentially non-spiritual level is one of bondage as a person cannot fulfill their true spiritual role in life.
As Morpheus expressed,
You are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.
The concept of choice begins at the next level of the soul called RUACH. This soul level is where man struggles with matters beyond physical existence. When this occurs, a person has a decision to either pursue spirituality or return to a physical level of existence (i.e., taking the red pill versus the blue pill.)
CHOICE ALONG NEO’S PATH
Choi: What do you think, DuJour? Should we take him with us?
The first mention of “choice” is cleverly hidden in an early dialogue. Neo receives a cryptic message to ‘follow the white rabbit’ on his computer. Immediately after this, there is a knock on his door. He speaks with a man and woman, who are named, “Choi” and “Dujour,’ which are two French words, that together create the phrase, “choi du jour,” meaning “choice of the day.”
All through the movies, Neo and the other main characters are faced with new choices, some very difficult to comprehend and work through. The realizations take time. Only when Neo meets the Architect in the third movie does he say, “Choice. This is about choice.” This continues all the way to the final fight seen where he tells Smith that he continues to fight, “because he chooses to.” (An often maligned portion of the script due to critics not understanding all that goes behind that phrase.)
After choosing to ‘follow the rabbit’ and later to ‘take the red pill,’ Neo advances from a basic knowledge of the Matrix world (“fighting his way through it”) to a more advanced level. The indication of this is at the end of the first movie where he ‘resurrects’ and then can see everything in the ‘code’ of the Matrix. He has moved past the level of his teacher, Morpheus. (i.e., no longer having to ‘dodge bullets.”) This correlates to moving from the soul-level of RUACH to the level of NESHAMA – the level of the Oracle and Binah/Understanding.
As she tells him when they meet again in the second movie:
You have the sight now, Neo. You are looking at the world without time.
The path of the One (Neo) is likened to the path of the “Ba’al Teshuvah” (Master of Repentance.) The concept of teshuvah in Judaism is one of returning to your “true self,” made in the Image of G-d. It involves coming out from the illusions of materialism or any non-spiritual lifestyle.
Actions on the part of those helping a Ba’al Teshuvah (i.e., Morpheus, Trinity, the Oracle) are known as kiruv rechokim – which carries the idea of ‘awakening’ those far off from the truth.
Even before we meet Neo in the first movie, he had begun a process. We learn that he had a feeling there was more to what was ‘real’ than what his senses relayed to him. (A discussion he has with Morpheus later on.) In ‘response’ to his ‘searching,’ those elements that were already aware of the ‘worlds’ beyond the Matrix ‘reach out’ to ‘awaken’ him. (Kiruv rechokim.)
At that point, he is still “Mr. Thomas A. Anderson,” living the life of a regular Joe. We learn a few things about him here and shortly after. He is not the most ‘holy guy.’ He’s guilty of ‘numerous computer crimes’ and as we see, his friends are a little odd. (We see that he could have easily turned out to be an Esau and not a David!)
And so, he follows these people to a peculiar nightclub where we find he drifted away from them and is leaning on a wall, listening to the blare of “Dragula” by Rod Zombie. If you wanted to depict being well into the klippot, this scene does the job.
Still, give “Neo” credit. He was willing to make the choice – to take the first step, in the hopes of making a connection to whatever lay beyond his world. Lesson learned: G-d has no problem meeting us in the darkest of places.
It is in this most obscure setting within the world of the Matrix that the first ‘unification’ begins. He meets someone named “Trinity” – a name he recognizes from his previous limited investigations into “matters beyond.”
That was you on my computer. – Neo to Trinity.
In Torah literature, the Sefirot are called ‘gates.’ The first gate (from the bottom-up perspective) is Malkhut. This sefirah is also associated with the presence of G-d in the world. (Although we think of this as a ‘physical level of existence’ it is not void of G-d – there is no place void of His presence.)
When speaking of this level of G-d’s presence, the concepts of “Shekinah” and “Ruach haKodesh” are used – both ‘feminine’ terms. Further, when understanding concepts in accordance to the 4-letter name of G-d (“Yud Hey Vav Hey” – which is one of the ‘templates’ alluded to in the previous lesson) the last letter Hey is associated with the concept of ‘bride” or “daughter” which is in the world. On the kabbalistic Tree of Life, Trinity is at Malchut. At this stage of the movie, she is this first gate in the lowest world.
Neo is made aware at a simple (though important) level, that there is more to life. Ironically, this occurs because he sees the world around him (the Matrix) as not real and thus what he needs to ‘tune out.’ Trinity brings about his first ‘tzimtzum’ by confirming what he felt may be true.
Which of course means, he will be given his next choice.
The idea of choice can imply choosing ‘correctly’ or ‘incorrectly.’ Here are two verses from the Tenakh about making poor choices and what results from such.
Proverbs 14:12: There is a way that men think is right, and its ways are the ways of death.
Deuteronomy 32:15: But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; You grew fat, you grew thick, You are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
The “path of the one” in the Matrix, from beginning to end, is about ‘choice’ – namely making good choices that will help correct previous bad ones. This is not always so clear cut however and not everyone in the Matrix makes good choices. One person preferred to return to the known comfort of their own “Egypt” than the challenges true freedom brings.
Compare closely Cypher’s viewpoint to that of some of the Hebrews in the book of Numbers:
Cypher: “Why, oh why didn’t I take the blue pill?”
Numbers: “Why did we come out of Egypt?”
Cypher: “I’m tired of … eating the same god damn goop every day.”
Numbers: “Our souls are dried away, there is nothing at all but this manna … “Who will feed us meat?”
Cypher: “I’m tired of that jack … and all of his bull. … He lied to us, Trinity. He tricked us! If you’da told us the truth, we woulda told you to shove that red pill right up your ass… . You call this free? All I do is what he tells me to do. If I had to choose between that and the Matrix, I choose the Matrix.
Numbers: “Is it a small thing that you have brought us out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, and do you also make yourself a prince over us? Moreover you have not brought us to a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: will you also put out the eyes of these men?”
A Choice of Choices: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2271/jewish/A-Choice-of-Choices.htm