The Matrix: There is no spoon


Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Boy: Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

– The Matrix, about 1:11 in

As so often, there is some truth to this and it’s easy to misunderstand.

This is not about bending spoons. It’s about realizing what we are.

What are we in our own first person experience? What are we if we are honest with ourselves, and set aside what others have told us we are?

We may find that in our own experience, we are capacity for the world. We are what our field of experience happens within and as.

There is a spoon in a conventional sense. And when we notice what we are, we also realize that the spoon is not what we thought. It happens within and as what we are. Any boundaries and labels come from our own mental representations and are not inherent in what they appear to be about.

Since the spoon happens within and as what we are, if the spoon bends, we are the bending.

In the movie, this is about bending spoons as a way to discover and explore how the matrix is created by the mind. For us, it’s about noticing what we are.

Noticing what we are doesn’t give us any special powers. It’s about noticing what we already are, and if we continue to notice, it’s about our human self transforming within that noticing.

It may seem that it gives us something. But it ultimately doesn’t give us anything. What we notice is that we are not anything in particular within our field of experience. There isn’t any separate one to gain anything.

Also, the process of transformation is, as Adya says, a destructive process. It’s not really what our personality wants.

The Matrix and our world


The Matrix – with its real and virtual worlds – is explicitly an allegory for our world.

In what way is our world like The Matrix?

In a literal sense, it’s theoretically possible – although probably unlikely – that this world is created by some beings like in The Matrix. And in a metaphorical sense, we all believe things others may want us to believe and we can wake up from those illusions.

There is also another way, and one I find equally or more interesting.

Our world is created through an overlay of thoughts, of mental images and words. This overlay is what makes sense of this world and also helps us visualize a past and future and a wider world beyond what’s here and now. It’s where all labels, assumptions, values, and so on come from.

This overlay is virtual. It’s imagined. It’s created from thoughts to help us orient and function in the world. It’s completely essential for our survival.

And it makes our world quite a bit like The Matrix.

How can we take the red pill?

The safest and most lasting and effective way may be through inquiry, and especially sincere inquiry over time.

Through headless inquiry, we may discover that we are capacity for our world. The world, as it appears to us, happens within and as what we are.

Through traditional Buddhist inquiry, and modern variations like the Living Inquiries, we may discover how our mind creates its own reality. How it associates sensations with thoughts… so the sensations lend a sense of solidity and truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts give meaning to the sensations.

Through The Work of Byron Katie, we may discover that the thoughts and assumptions we held as true are not as true as we thought, and not true in the way we thought.

Through basic meditation – notice and allow what’s here – we may come to hold our thoughts a little more lightly which supports these forms of inquiry.

And so on. There are innumerable forms of inquiry and supporting practices that can be helpful here.

I am personally not interested in the path of psychoactive drugs. Although they can give us a glimpse of this, it’s dependent on chemical, it’s often transient, it may come with side-effects, and there are other approaches that are more reliable and thorough.

Why would we want to take the red pill?

There is some inherent suffering, discomfort, and struggle in taking our virtual world as inherently true and real.

Taking the red pill may not remove the suffering, discomfort, and struggle, but it can make it much easier. It can help us not struggle with it, and that – in itself – is a big relief.

Also, some of us seem drawn to truth, or love, or returning home, no matter what the cost may be. In that case, it seems we don’t have that much choice.