The Red Pill, or the Blue Pill ?
Welcome to the 14th Key. It's amazing to consider how much the world has changed since my previous blog-post. In this key, we'll analyze and consider a phrase which has gotten much notoriety since the release of the Matrix movie. It's difficult, if not impossible to discuss the phrase without first examining its origins.
In summary, the movie consists of a protagonist in the form of a computer programmer and hacker named Neo, who discover a parallel reality based on simulation. This concept is also found as 'Maya' - the illusion or reality - as described in Hinduism. Back to the movie... Neo ends up meeting the mysterious, time-traveling leader of an underground revolution by the name of Morpheus. Similar to a guru concept, Morpheus becomes the teacher of Neo by revealing his potential in this illusory reality.
During a climactic interlude during these teaching sessions, Morpheus reveals two pills, and asks Neo to choose. "This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more." (Morpheus) Without spoiling too much of the movie for anybody who hasn't seen it, yes, Neo chooses the red pill, and the movie takes a cataclysmic shift.
In essence, the phrase/meme has become interpreted as the blue pill representing a blissful ignorance in a comfortable reality, and the red pill representing a difficult awakening to a stark and true reality. The phrase has been adopted as a sort of absolute spiritual truth in many circles. Indeed, we live in a world of more questions than answers, where consumer societies are global and media influence cannot be denied. We are conditioned from childhood through institutions and manipulations of our own designs. Laws everywhere only benefit the rich and the powerful, and this control is systematic.
On the other hand, we live in a world that is also amazingly unpredictable and beautiful, especially in regards to nature. We see a system in Nature that is altruistic and harmonious. The beehive works for everyone but harms nothing. We live in a world where technology allows us to have a quick, text conversation in real time with somebody we know in a country 8,000 miles from our own. This world allows us to interact with our fellow human beings in order to express and fulfill our most Divine, highest qualities: love, joy and harmony. We meet people and fall in love. In arts and music, this world is a blank canvas to paint with our lives and actions. Yes, we give the world color, energetically.
In my opinion, the blue pill and the red pill do exist. I believe they also represent a form of duality - a compulsory and limited choice between two options. In contrast, non duality refers to a mature awareness, in which the distinction of I-other is transcended, and higher consciousness is actually attained. We see duality especially prominent in politics of all forms: "us versus them" or "theirs and ours". Like a bird's eye-view, non-duality allows one to perceive reality from above, as one realm without separation. An astronaut wouldn't observe state and country lines from a space-shuttle, he/she would only notice these on approach back to Earth's atmosphere.
My conclusion on the phrase ? It's actually very worldly. In a movie - even one as good as the Matrix - it's all too easy to portray someone as a wise guru, but Morpheus was actually just a clever revolutionary who looked like a shady, illegal pharma-pusher. In one hand ecstacy, in the other, amphetamines. A truly spiritual teacher would have offered Neo a purple pill - a blending of red and blue. After all, isn't non-duality the ultimate Reality ? Isn't life just a cumulative result of all our personal choices and actions ? I am reminded of the Bhagavad Gita, in which lord Krishna - a true guru - teaches Arjuna about the three modes of material nature: ignorance, passion and goodness. In Matrix terms, I believe the blue pill would represent ignorance, the red passion, and a purple pill, goodness. I really admire the Matrix trilogy and enjoyed the lessons in all of them, but science-fiction is still... fiction. If somebody only offers you two pills, opt out of both. Pills are only for temporary thrills.