Saturday, February 23, 2008

On Baha'i References to "Matrix": For Walter and Rashid

Both fellow believer Walter and seeker Rashid like the movie The Matrix and say it has Baha'i themes. I'm not much of a movie-person, so I haven't seen it. But I gather that recognition of a Baha'i-The Matrix connection is a rather old story on the net.

I remember coming across the word "matrix" in one of the volumes of the Comprehensive Deepening Program from the 1970s. I remember thinking, what a modern word. Of course, Abdu'l-Baha used the word in his talks when in this country in 1912.

So, for Walter and Rashid, here is an excerpt from Abdu'l-Baha's talk on 1 September 1912 at the home of the Maxwell's in Montreal, Canada. -gw

The world of the Kingdom is the realm of divine bestowals and the bounties of God. It is attainment of the highest virtues of humanity; it is nearness to God; it is capacity to receive the bounties of the ancient Lord. When man advances to this station, he attains the second birth. Before his first or physical birth man was in the world of the matrix. He had no knowledge of this world; his eyes could not see; his ears could not hear. When he was born from the world of the matrix, he beheld another world. The sun was shining with its splendors, the moon radiant in the heavens, the stars twinkling in the expansive firmament, the seas surging, trees verdant and green, all kinds of creatures enjoying life here, infinite bounties prepared for him. In the world of the matrix none of these things existed. In that world he had no knowledge of this vast range of existence; nay, rather, he would have denied the reality of this world. But after his birth he began to open his eyes and behold the wonders of this illimitable universe. Similarly, as long as man is in the matrix of the human world, as long as he is the captive of nature, he is out of touch and without knowledge of the universe of the Kingdom. If he attains rebirth while in the world of nature, he will become informed of the divine world. He will observe that another and a higher world exists. Wonderful bounties descend; eternal life awaits; everlasting glory surrounds him. All the signs of reality and greatness are there. He will see the lights of God. All these experiences will be his when he is born out of the world of nature into the divine world. Therefore, for the perfect man there are two kinds of birth: the first, physical birth, is from the matrix of the mother; the second, or spiritual birth, is from the world of nature. In both he is without knowledge of the new world of existence he is entering. Therefore, rebirth means his release from the captivity of nature, freedom from attachment to this mortal and material life. This is the second, or spiritual, birth of which Jesus Christ spoke in the Gospels.

The majority of people are captives in the matrix of nature, submerged in the sea of materiality. We must pray that they may be reborn, that they may attain insight and spiritual hearing, that they may receive the gift of another heart, a new transcendent power, and in the eternal world the unending bestowal of divine bounties.

The Promulgation of Universal Peace
Author: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982 second edition
Pages: 304-305.

{Photo: "a matrix dream," uploaded on April 12, 2006 by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic}

4 comments:

Sholeh said...

ma·trix
1. something that constitutes the place or point from which something else originates, takes form, or develops: The Greco-Roman world was the matrix for Western civilization.
2. Anatomy. a formative part, as the corium beneath a nail.
3. Biology.
a. the intercellular substance of a tissue.
b. ground substance.
4. Petrology. the fine-grained portion of a rock in which coarser crystals or rock fragments are embedded.
5. fine material, as cement, in which lumps of coarser material, as of an aggregate, are embedded.
6. Mining. gangue.
7. Metallurgy. a crystalline phase in an alloy in which other phases are embedded.
8. Printing. a mold for casting typefaces.
9. master (def. 18).
10. (in a press or stamping machine) a multiple die or perforated block on which the material to be formed is placed.
11. Mathematics. a rectangular array of numbers, algebraic symbols, or mathematical functions, esp. when such arrays are added and multiplied according to certain rules.
12. Linguistics. a rectangular display of features characterizing a set of linguistic items, esp. phonemes, usually presented as a set of columns of plus or minus signs specifying the presence or absence of each feature for each item.
13. Also called master. a mold made by electroforming from a disk recording, from which other disks may be pressed.
14. Archaic. the womb.

from dictionary.com :-) Amazing how people forget to use those, these days. haha.

George Wesley Dannells said...

You're right about that, Sholeh! Youth delaying marriage, or married folks opting out from having children. Who would have predicted 40 years ago the negative birth rates in places like Italy and Spain.

SMK said...

while the movie philosophically has more to do with Buddhism and Gnosticism there was a movie review that picked up on the language with the Bahá'í Faith.

Vahid said...

The quote that came to my mind after seeing the movie was:

"And the splendor of that light is in the hearts, yet it is hidden under the veilings of sense and the conditions of this earth , even as a candle within a lantern of iron, and only when the lantern is removed doth the light of the candle shine out.

(Bahá'u'lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 23)

The Matrix (part 1) is quite fantastic in showing how our senses define so much of our "realities", and can be used as an interesting visual metaphor on how our senses shouldn't govern us. Spiritual perception needs to be develloped, as well as a sense of moral that can guide us.


Of course, in the movie, the world outside the matrix is gloom and dark and bad, but the point for Baha'is, i think, is that we can't live like animals letting just the senses rule what we do.