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Spirituality in the modern, technological world
on July 10, 2004
Reflecting back on the enormous popular and critical success of 'The Matrix', it is refreshing to note that people were overwhelmingly drawn to a film that conformed itself neither to the cynical and pessimistic bent that informs many recent movies nor to an easy and clichéd sort of optimism. The quest for truth is not mocked but strongly valorized here. This film is especially interesting for the numerous clues it gives about how spirituality is envisioned in the modern, technological world: organized groups and systems of all kinds (social, religious, political...) are discarded in favour of a more individualistic, master-disciple type of spiritual experience; at the same time, the notion of an official church is replaced by secret fraternities. This disregard for dogmas entails an eclectic approach that welcomes elements of Eastern thought (especially Buddhism and Taoism), of Hellenism and of Christianity; the path towards enlightenment is the Way, or Tao, which can't be put into words but must be lived. Neo's ongoing initiation features recurrent death-resurrection motifs - it does get caught up in a few noisy and overdone action scenes, but it remains fascinating from beginning to end. And the movie works well as an introduction to philosophy...