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Ask Auntie Suvanna: Enlightenment and “The Matrix”

the matrixMy Dear Auntie,

My daughter is seven, and the other night I rented The Matrix and we watched it together. She loved it, and wants to see Matrix Reloaded with me too. So I was wondering: Am I a bad father? The other thing is, I recognize many Buddhist principles, such as the four noble truths, but I don’t want to be a vegetarian, and meditating is no fun. Can I call myself a Buddhist?

Thanks in advance, Conrad

Dear Conrad,

Firstly be warned that your daughter may have a very hard time following the dialogue in The Matrix Reloaded. Not that it matters.

And I’ll let you in on a secret: meditation is great fun! Often we forget to tell people this. To prove it, I will recount an experience I had. Once after many days of meditating in silence, I walked into the bathroom and saw that the wall was covered with ants. (It was hot — spring in the Sierra.) The ants were moving in fascinating patterns. I was riveted — and stood there like a zombie, contemplating various implications, staring at them for a long time. Now doesn’t that sound like fun? Plus, it was free.

But let me venture a guess here a minute: instead of the above-documented fun of sitting for hours and hours and hours in silence, you prefer to spend those hours with your daughter watching violent special effects, right? Tell me Conrad, how long do you think it’ll take you to get enlightened that way? On the other hand if you stick to The Matrix (original) you can still be a Buddhist — just focus your attention on what Morpheus says and watch your breath.

Love, Auntie Suvanna

Ask Auntie Suvanna was written by Suvarnaprabha, who practiced at the San Francisco Buddhist Center until she passed away in September, 2013, after an encounter with cancer. Suvanna blogger her way, with humor and good grace, from her diagnosis until shortly before her death, in Crap! I’ve Got Cancer.

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Comment from Jennifer
Time: June 25, 2008, 11:28 am

Conrad,
As one that has practiced Buddhism for years, I can say that YES you can be a Buddhist and not be a vegetarian or give up your “fun” personality- it isn’t just about sitting there staring at walls. In Asia (as well as now in America) there are many types of Buddhists- a Pure Land Buddhist may combine a bit of sitting with chanting and even walking for example. And as far as being a bad father, my dad and I watched Star Wars when I was little- maybe the Matrix is this generation’s version of Star Wars (and Yoda was totally Buddhist)!

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Comment from Lesley Fildes
Time: June 29, 2008, 7:22 am

distractions?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 29, 2008, 10:14 am

That’s a little cryptic, Leslie! Can you say more?

With metta,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from vimokshadaka
Time: January 9, 2013, 12:46 pm

This has been a very interesting subject for me; http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/transcendental-science-fiction-a-new-kind-of-sutra

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