#Samadhi for non-#Buddhists and Children of the #Matrix: Turn it down!!!

It seems that the movie “The Matrix” has done for the current generation what “Plato’s Cave” did for one almost 2500 years ago, inspiring countless thinkers and wannabe prophets to poke beyond the edges of the common-sense world, just to see if there was anything there, knowing that there would be no sure answers, but an enduring love of the questions, and inspiring narratives that would make any Homer, Shakespeare, Hugo or Cervantes take notice…

“Only when we feel the spiral of life within will the outer world come into alignment with the Tao…”

“The danger for you, in watching this film, is that your mind will want to acquire samadhi… like cattle, most humans live and die in passive subjugation…”

“Identification with the egoic mind is the sickness and samadhi is the cure…”

The one-liners come on fast AND furious: “Samadhi is the cessation of self”, “Every war is a war against ourselves”, “The inner world is where the revolution must begin,” etc.

And this world is Buddhist-like populated by personas more than persons, attributes more than tribes, e.g. “Eminent self”, “Egoic structures”, “Inner wiring,” etc…

And then there’s the name-dropping: Plato (and cave), Krishnamurti, Descartes, Camus, Adam and Eve inna-gadda-da-vida, etc. There is only one problem, repeated over and over: that Hawking-style robot-voice plays fast and loose with facts and figures, beautiful people in beautiful poses asking questions whose answers are only implied, but never intended. In other words, much of the information is simply wrong…

Now if I were a real snark I’d suggest that ‘Samadhi’ is a movie about mispronunciation of a word and obfuscation of a concept, in which a word typically pronounced as ‘sa ma TEE’ in most if not every Asian language is Anglicized and Americanized as ‘sa MOD dy’ for purposes of easy consumption and mock mysteriosity, the better to take something simple, and with a SNAP of the fingers ‘woo woo’ it up into something mystical and magical and ultimately commercial…

But fortunately I’m not that snarky, so I’ll limit my comments in criticism of this video to those things I’m fairly certain of, and leave the wild speculations to others, since that seems to be the specialty of these film-makers. Oops! There’s that snarky puppy again, wanting to play before supper…

But anyway, in modern standard Thai language, at least, and I suspect others, the word ‘samadhi‘ is not hard to define at all, as stated in the narrative here. It simply means meditation, or the meditative state, usually used in combination with the verb ‘nung’, ‘to sit’, so nung samadhi = to sit in meditation. Everything else on that simple subject is likely BS, similar to the discussions surrounding the verb ‘namaste‘, probably best translated as ‘hi’, literally something like ‘I bow to you’…

Why everything metaphysical, language specifically, has to be chopped and ‘Chopra’d’ up for mass New Age consumption, is unknown to me, since I feel that the simplest explanation is usually the best, like Occam’s razor, but such is the ‘New Age’, ‘spirituality’ and ‘transformational’ industry, saving souls as fast as others can destroy them, served fresh and straight to your table, and slathered with that special sauce…

Maya” means ‘illusion’, no more nor less, unless in specific reference to self. And samsara and nirvana are NOT Heaven and Hell, no way no how. Whether in its original meaning as ‘the world’ or its connotation as the cycle of re-birth, whatever, it is definitely NOT hell, nor would nirvana ever be translated as heaven, except by the most inept of spiritual wannabes. And “anatta” means ‘no self’, not ‘beyond thinking’ as originally stated, and acknowledged later in its correct meaning…

But this film, or video, is to be judged on its own merits, not its association—or not—with an industry that is as poorly defined as it is essential. And that essential need is the spiritual longing of much of the world, usually dealt with by the usual religions, but those apparently and increasingly unable to keep up with the global demands, both qualitative and quantitative, in this the age of digital communication and social media…

Short-cuts are the great temptation, of course, religion and philosophy for pennies on the dollar, wholesale, in which a little Quantum Physics 101 and some smiley sweet talk can take the place of a lot of elbow grease and sweat of the brow. As explained in a previous post, here, this all generally falls into the category of pseudoscience, false knowledge, just enough generally accepted scientific opinion to allow for broad (quantum?) leaps of wild speculation, interspersed with sporadic faith…

And this video seems to do just that, extrapolating genuine science to the point that it’s no longer recognizable as such, which probably pleases much of the intended audience, TBH, but not me, a stickler for detail and proof(s). That’s the definition of science—theory, experimentation and proof, all of which is tentative and subject to further revision. That’s the beauty of it, and that’s the difficulty of it: happy endings are few and far between…

On the other hand, this is a very beautiful film to watch, in the Koyaanisqatsi-Baraka style of Ron Fricke, highly visual, highly meditative and highly seductive in its imagery—and highly copied. So what’s the problem then? The problem is the narrative, which by attempting to explain everything ultimately and finally explains little or nothing…

The point I need to make right now is that this narrative is NOT Buddhism, despite the fact that the film’s sponsor is a meditation center in Canada, and probably a very good one, something dear to me and my heart. And in a backhanded sort of way, they inadvertently prove one of Buddhism’s main lessons, the value of STFU, the value of silence, since all narrative is flawed, especially verbal narrative, including this one, yes…

So my recommendation for this film is to turn the sound off, put on some Coltrane, or maybe Hans Zimmer, and enjoy the spectacular visuals. The narrative may initially inspire, but will ultimately only confuse. In all fairness, there ARE modern ‘quantum’ theories based on something maybe best described as ‘information theory’, or ’emergence’, in which both space and time are conditional, not primal, and subject to circumstances, BUT…

…the real deal-killer is the filmmakers’ obsession with ‘The Matrix’, apparently the movie, and the movie only. I waited and waited for further explanation, but it never really came, only some vague references to ‘social conditioning’, ‘biologic condition structures’ and such, and finally an admission that, yes, we’re talking about the movie. Now I liked the movie, too, BUT… it’s only a movie. I reiterate: it’s only a movie…

Conclusion: Again, this is not Buddhism. Many questions are asked, but few are answered, and though I agree with many of the conclusions, the means of getting there are sketchy and dubious. Like most all religions, here again we are urged to worship the unattainable, in this case samadhi, hugely referenced but only vaguely defined. So I recommend to watch with the volume down, way down…

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