THE PATH OF THE ONE
Neo’s journey from his Matrix life as Thomas Anderson to his arrival as “the One” in the Machine City, is a series of progressions, each built upon learning to go past his current level of understanding. This process is always initiated by tsimtsum, the idea of “restriction so something else can come into reality.”
We see the idea of progression throughout a number of dialogues:
Cypher: I just keep wondering. if Morpheus is so sure, why doesn’t he take him to see the Oracle?
Trinity: Morpheus will take him…when he’s ready.
Morpheus (to Neo): This is a sparring program, similar to the programmed reality of the Matrix. It has the same basic rules, rules like gravity. What you must learn is that these rules are no different than the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent. Others can be broken.
Morpheus: I’ve seen an agent punch through a concrete wall. Men have emptied entire clips at them and hit nothing but air. Yet their strength and their speed are still based in a world that is built on rules. Because of that, they will never be as strong or as fast as you can be.
Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?
Morpheus: No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.
Morpheus: I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.
What all of the above points to is that somewhere between meeting Morpheus and reaching the level of the Oracle, Neo has work to do. This work will enable him to change his view on what he thinks reality is (the restriction) and see more and more what the “truth” is about the Matrix and himself. This is expressed in terms of Neo’s mind being “freed” and his ability to deal with the Matrix at a level where he can manipulate it, i.e., “Not having to dodge bullets.”
Neo: All these memories I have, these places I went…. None of it ever happened. What does that mean?
Trinity: That the Matrix cannot tell you who you are.
Closely tied to the concept of tsimtsum is that of ‘teshuvah,’ where one “returns” to his/her ‘true self,’ which is made in the B’tzelem Elohim, the “Image of G-d,” first mentioned in Genesis.
All of this relates to Neo’s journey in the Matrix movies as he moves from the non-reality of the Matrix world to learning of its existence and continuing on to mastering it to the point of finally connecting back to ‘the source’ – the machine world.
The path of spiritual advancement is understood according to different “templates” in Torah literature, most often along a 5-stage path. In turn, these five stages may be mapped out according to different aspects of G-d and creation, including; the five levels of the soul, five worlds of existence and five levels of spiritual status for man, among others. (1)
Examples (from beginning to end):
- Through the “worlds of existence,”
- Asiyah, the physical world
- Yetzirah, the angelic realm
- Beriah. the level of the throne room of G-d
- Atzilut, existence beyond creation, ‘near to G-d’
- Adam Kadmon, pre-existenc
- Through the levels of the soul:
- Nefesh, the basic soul
- Ruach, the level where one contemplates spirituality
- Neshama, the level of a ‘ba’al teshuvah’ (master of repentance) or being ‘born again.’ This is the goal of most human beings in this life.
- Chaya, the level of nearness to G-d that a true tzaddik can reach
- Yehida, the level of ‘union’ with G-
- By way of ‘classifications’ given to man:
- Nochri-Akum = Egoism/Idolator
- Goy = Soujourner
- Ivri = Crossing over/Hebrew
- Israel = Yashar kEL – straight to G-d
- Yehudi = Yihud – union with G-d
In the Matrix story, the “path of the one” parallels the above as follows:
- “Asleep in the Matrix,” until Trinity verifies there is a greater reality
- Becoming aware of the Matrix via his interaction with Morpheus
- Making the connection to the higher realities of the Matrix via the Oracle
- Going past creation (the Matrix) to its ‘creator,’ the Architect
- Connecting with the “god” of the Matrix – the Deux ex Machina (“god from the machine) of the Machine World
Elaborating on the above, if we were to chart Neo’s spiritual path we would see this:
- Neo through his own efforts began on the path away from what is called “Nochri-Akum” (Egoisim/Idolator) – which in the movie is the illusion and trappings of the Matrix world. He “sought the kingdom” and it (Trinity) found him. Neo’s type of initiative is called ‘Itaruta Diletata’ – arousal from below, which is then met with Itaruta Delieyla – arousal from above (from Trinity, Morpheus, etc.)
- With the help of Trinity he embarks on the path of “goy/sojourner,” as one taking the first step of commitment on the spiritual path he’s been made more aware of. This brings him to the next gate.
- With the help of Morpheus he attains the level of Ivri/Hebrew – one who has ‘crossed over,’ or in his case ‘been unplugged’ and given his first real view of ‘reality’ – the world apart from the Matrix.
This is where he is at. He is “born again.” For most of humanity, this third level is as far as we go – the level of the soul called Neshama. But the journey is far from over for Neo. He still has a couple of stages to go through before attaining his maximum potential as “the One.”
Each of the stages has one more moments of tsimtsum for Neo. After his first meeting with the Oracle, she drops one on him in his way:
“Sorry, kid. You got the gift, but it looks like you’re waiting for something.” – The Oracle to Neo
To Neo, this could have been interpreted as the end of the road. But his mentor is not done with him:
“What was said was for you and you alone.” – Morpheus to Neo
Neo still has work to do to get to the level of “Ivri.” When he is ready, the remaining stages and their corresponding experiences will be:
- Israel (Yashar kEL – straight to God) which the Oracle will later guide him toward:
Oracle: A program can either choose to hide here, or return to The Source.
Neo: The machine mainframe?
The Oracle: Yes. Where you must go. Where the path of The One ends.
- Yehudi (Yihud – union with G-d) which he attains after his meeting with the Architect and (quite literally) “connects” to the machine main frame, the Deus ex Machine – “god from the machine.”