When Neo, in the movie The Matrix, decides to swallow the red pill in Morpheus’ right hand rather than the blue one in his left, he is choosing the truth of the world he’s living in rather than the dream he’s been living in thus far. This truth reveals that his body, along with the bodies of nearly all “surviving” human beings, is being used as an energy source for an alien culture. Neo’s soul, his thinking consciousness, is living a life within a thoroughly convincing and complete world, a computer matrix, that has enslaved humanity within a total illusion.
Though we are horrified by the scene in The Matrix showing rank upon rank of “human batteries” dreaming away, we somehow easily grasp the idea of a thought life separate from our bodies. The fact is, for decades now physicists have been suggesting that we must broaden our ideas of consciousness as existing only within the bounds of our brain matter. Max Planck*, the father of quantum mechanics, said quite a long time ago, “There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
Let’s see what Dr. Steiner has to say:
No doubt there are people who quite honestly believe in the annihilation of the soul on the extinction of the life of the body, and who arrange their lives accordingly. But even these are not unbiased with regard to such a belief. It is true that they do not allow the fear of annihilation, and the wish for continued existence, to get the better of the reasons which are distinctly in favor of such annihilation. So far, the conception of these people is more logical than that of others who unconsciously construct or accept arguments in favor of a continued existence because there is an ardent desire in the secret depths of their souls for such continued existence.
And yet the view of those who deny immortality is no less biased, only in a different way… Their view of existence leads them to the conclusion that the conditions of the soul’s life can no longer be present when the body falls away. Such people do not notice that they have themselves, from the very first, fixed an idea of the conditions necessary for the existence of life, and cannot imagine a continuation of life after death for the simple reason that, according to their own pre-conceived idea, there is no possibility of imagining an existence without a body. Even if they are not biased by their own wishes, they are biased by their own ideas from which they cannot emancipate themselves.
Excerpt from A Road to Self Knowledge. First Meditation, 1918 by Rudolf Steiner.
In The Matrix, we see that Neo makes the choice to live within reality no matter how “real” the life he’s been living outside of his senses seems to him. Either way, though, Neo is still Neo. He doesn’t become someone else when he wakes to reality. In the movie Avatar, we see the world from a different angle. Here, the protagonist, Jake Sully, leaves his “real” body to inhabit the genetically engineered body of a Na’vi, an endangered native population on another planet. And yet, Jake is still Jake. Both movies indicate that consciousness isn’t sense-bound. Both men, given a free choice to accept new circumstances, do so. Neo reclaims his body and regains the use of his own senses; Jake rejects his own body and adopts the avatar’s senses. But who they are is a constant.
Why do we readily accept plot ideas of consciousness being free of the body, yet continue to discount the implications of this acceptance? Do we have, on a gut level, an understanding that we are not our bodies but rather that we inhabit them? We may see that the body is indeed a vehicle that we use; it belongs to us for the duration of our lives. Perhaps it isn’t such a big leap to imagine that when we die, our consciousness survives when we leave our bodies behind. Isn’t it time we begin to investigate the mind behind the matter? If you want to know more about this, you can read Rudolf Steiner.
*Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, (born April 23, 1858, Kiel, Schleswig [Germany]—died October 4, 1947, Göttingen, Germany), German theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1918.
Max Planck: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Max-Planck
The Matrix movie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matrix
Avatar movie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar_(2009_film)