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The Matrix: an occult view

Monica Belluci in Matrix: Reloaded

Monica Belluci in Matrix: Reloaded

News today that some scientists have theorised we may be living in The Matrix. This is based on the idea that the fact that cosmic rays always hit earth with a specific maximum energy of 1020 electron-volts, this somehow implies that this limit is controlled from outside by mysterious beings who are running this Universe as a simulation.

However: just as Neo and his friends had the Agents called Smith, Jones and Brown to spoil their fun, so we have Agents of our own called Thomas Bayes and Pierre Laplace! I.e. in all their theorising, the scientists have not once accounted for how probable it is that these results can also be explained by the Universe not being a simulation.

Nevertheless, this has prompted me to write an occultist’s explanation of the whole deal. The Matrix has been described as a parable of Gnosticism in the past: however, this is a rather superficial analysis. In actual fact,  the viewpoint of the fictional millieu evolves from a Gnostic to a Neo-Platonic setting as the Trilogy progresses – as I shall explain below.

Gnostic Symbolism

The basic premise of Gnosticism is that humans are enslaved within the material universe, which is a prison. The ultimate aim of existence is therefore to defeat the spiritual forces which are enslaving us, escape from the material universe, and re-take our place in the “real” or Spiritual Universe.

At once there are some immediate parallels with The Matrix, to wit:

The Architect is the Demiurge, the creator of the material universe, and hence ultimately responsible for enslaving humankind.

The Demiurge

The Agents are the Archons, who actively work to prevent us breaking out of the material universe.

The Archons

The Oracle is Sophia.

Sophia

Neo is the Logos, who helps us poor souls break out.

The Logos

The Red Pill is Gnosis, the key whereby to achieve spiritual freedom.

Gnosis

Zion is the Pleroma, the real Universe where everybody is free.

The Pleroma

Neo-Platonic Symbolism

However, this straightforward correlation to Gnosticism was complicated – along with most other things in the Trilogy – by Matrix:Re-Loaded and Matrix:Revolutions. The main problem is the concept of the existence of rogue sentient programs such as The Merovingian and his chums, the Key-Maker, Seraph etc – and ultimately Agent Smith himself. These characters – who exist within the Matrix, but are independent of the forces controlling it and thus follow their own agendas – don’t really have parallels in Gnosticism – but they do in certain Neo-Platonic frameworks.

The Oracle remarks in the second film that these entities are in fact left-overs from previous versions of the Matrix. This basically mirrors the cosmological view espoused by Martinez De Pasqually – the founder of the Elu Cohens and by extension an inspiration behind Martinism – in his Treatise on the Reintegration of Beings. To wit: the so-called Demons of the material universe are in fact spiritual beings that did not fit in nicely in with previous emanations of the spiritual universe. Thus they were consigned to this universe as a sort of prison.

In the third film, this parallel is taken to its logical conclusion when at the climax, the forces of the Matrix, instead of fighting against Neo and friends, ask Neo to defeat Agent Smith, the quintessential rogue sentient program for them. Neo’s prize for doing so is that the war is ended, those that want to be released from the Matrix are freed, and everyone can now play nicely with each other. This is the scenario envisaged by De Pasqually i.e.

Neo becomes “Yeheshuah,” the mystical Jesus, sent to save the material universe.

Yeheshuah, the Repairer

The Architect is still a demiurge-type figure – the “Supreme Architect of the Universe” as De Pasqually has it – but now he has become a Neo-platonic demiurge – i.e. one that is willing to be merciful to the souls of the virtuous who are trapped within the material universe.

SAOTU

Agent Smith – collectively – represents the various Demons, whom “Yeheshuah” (Neo) has to defeat and drive back to ensure that the inhabitants of the material universe (the Matrix) have the chance to achieve their spiritual potential.

Demons

Thus, the Matrix Trilogy collectively represents a development from Gnosticism in the first film, to Martinez De Pasqually style Neo Platonism in the third film – with the second film being a transitional mish-mash between the two.

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Reincarnation: A Hermetic Approach

So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:28 (emphasis added).

Reincarnation, metempsychosis, palingenesis, past lives, etc, has cropped up in the Western Mystery Tradition since at least the time of Plato. In the Phaedrus, he *cough* I mean Socrates believed that it was man’s destiny to be successively re-born in all walks of life until he was re-born in the highest, which was obviously as a Philosopher, before re-joining the gods.

The New Testament offers evidence that the Jews of Jesus’ time thought that it was theoretically possible for a dead person to be re-born – because nothing is impossible to God – but there is no evidence to suggest that they thought it occurred on a regular basis. However, the writers of the New Testament did believe that future re-incarnation would occur at least once: in the Resurrection on the Last Day. Note the biblical passage at the top of this article – in the Greek New Testament the word for “regeneration” is actually Palingenesis or “re-birth.” The same word has been used for both personal re-incarnation and re-birth of the Universe (like a re-setting of The Matrix!) by some pagan schools of thought, although such usage was hushed up by the Church.

So that was the Western appreciation of re-incarnation… until the 19th century, when Theosophy introduced a decidedly Eastern approach – which from personal observation seems to be what most people understand by the term today. One finds it in the work of Dion Fortune, both her fiction and non-fiction work. Aleister Crowley delighted in it, especially if it meant he could claim just about every kewl person from history from Edward Kelly to Eliphas Levi via Swinburne was one of his prior incarnations. Less frivolously the concept of re-incarnation was adopted, from Theosophy, by a large number of occult groups, from Martinism to Wicca and beyond.

It is thus possible to extrapolate some general principles regarding a “Hermetic” approach to re-incarnation, if one is for one moment prepared to indulge the fiction that “Hermetic” refers to the practices of the Occult revival of the late 19th century, and not to actual Hermeticism as it was at the time it was first invented.

The first and most important principle for going in search of one’s past lives this:

Have prepared in advance a strategy for dealing with the Dweller On The Threshold when you meet it.

Keep Calm And Ask the Dweller On The Threshold For Your Karmic Lesson

Sensible advice for all initiates seeking knowledge of their past lives.

The “Dweller On The Threshold” (or “DotT” as I shall hereinafter refer to it) is a nasty beasty that you will meet when trying to uncover your past-lives. It is so terrifying that it is likely to put you off attempting to discover your past lives if you don’t realise what it really is. The DotT was first described Bulwher(“It was a dark and stormy night…”)Lytton in his book Zanoni, and seems to have been adopted as gospel by Blavatsky, so that it was repeated in hushed tones by the likes of Dion Fortune, Rudolf Steiner, etc.

The DotT looks different for every person who encounters it: it might appear astrally as a thing, an entity, or a disturbing situation; or instead of appearing astrally it might manifest in your life as something disturbing or challenging. It is described in Theosophical texts as an astral double which each person leaves hanging about on the astral plane from the last time they incarnated.

It is this which gives the key to understanding its true nature: the DotT is in fact an astral representation of all of the Karma you have accrued from previous lives, and a DotT-experience amounts to suddenly having to deal with all your Karma all at once. The Dweller on the Threshold is, thus, you.

The ignorant person thus comes up against the DotT and, not knowing what it is, is put off following the spiritual path for the rest of their life. These people can be found spending their days writing highly cynical and depressive texts for Llewellyn or Weiser or New Falcon about how futile the spiritual path is! The true Initiate, however, recognises the DotT for what it is and takes ownership. By not losing ones nerve and by carefully interrogating it, the DotT successively reveals the Karmic lessons which the individual must learn, and the tasks that the individual must perform in order to free him/herself from his/her Karmic burdens.

This leads to the second important principle that a Metempsychonaut should observe: one should first

Be an Adept of all forms of practical magick.

By finding out from the DotT what one’s Karmic lessons are, one is inevitably tasked with list of things to do. It therefore follows that one should be well versed in practical magick, as one can then use one’s skills to resolve one’s Karmic issues.

Logically therefore, the ideal time for going in search of one’s past-lives is only after you have obtained Adepthood. Indeed, Franz Bardon strongly advises the new initiate not to go seeking for one’s past lives, because as soon as you do so, you will become responsible for them.

Unfortunately, from my own observations I see people everyday attempt past-life regressions with no thought of what they are going to do when their past-lives are revealed to them. This is not a Hermetic approach, this is just an astral junket – or spiritual tourism.

Conclusion

However there are at least two positive outcomes which will arise from the whole business of going up against the DotT. The first is in the realisation that the DotT is not the Shadow, because it represents all of ones Karma both good and bad. Hence, although the DotT might appear off-putting to some, to those who have lead saintly lives so-far or at least not terribly bad ones, the DotT may well prove far less traumatic than one might have first feared.

Secondly, the authorities all predict an optimistic outcome for those that go through with the ordeal of confronting the DotT and rising to the challenges that it sets. Rudolf Steiner, for one, says that as one resolves each Karmic issue that one has, the DotT appears less and less like a horrible monster and more and more like an Angel of Light, so that eventually it becomes not a barrier but a Spirit-Guide. Most importantly however, it leaves the Initiate with an idea that Death is not the End, and that the terrors of the grave are purely illusory.

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