Synopsis: red pill, blue pill is a choice from the movie The Matrix, and an important one to both recognize and make
You likely know that, “red pill, blue pill was a choice made famous in the movie “The Matrix.” As the story unfolds, we discover a future earth that is run by machines. They need the heat and nutrients human bodies can provide, and so, they’ve placed each human in a tube.
The humans are wired into the matrix, a computer simulation, and, from within the matrix, it all seems so real. Except for the glitches.
Neo, the protagonist played by Keanu Reeves, is experiencing such a glitch. He’s getting a whiff that something isn’t quite right with the picture he’s seeing. He starts, slowly, to peel back the curtain on the matrix. Sorta like Dorothy does, in the Wizard of Oz.
Morpheus (Laurence Fishburn) shows up, and holds out his hand. Red pill, blue pill.
Morpheus: “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.”
From a Zen perspective, this is the choice between awake and asleep.
It’s a real challenge, this. Most people, when given such a choice, reach for the blue pill — for the comfort of the known, the rules of the herd, the security offered by “the state,” (the matrix writ large.)
Or, they hope for a pill that’s half and half.
There is no question that blue pill is easier. Not questioning what’s going on is always easier. It also makes it easy for a bloviating airhead like Trump to attract so much support.
Think about it. His pitch is to the dis-satisfied. And what are they dissatisfied with? That the matrix they were promised–the one they chose, seems to be coming apart. There are cracks in the matrix, and rather than question the matrix, they want things to “be the way they were.”
But let’s just stick to the personal, as opposed to the political.
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Of course we do
That splintery feeling is real, and likely has led to most of the things that surround us. Machines, medicines, inventions of all sorts. It’s the itch that need a good scratch.
Until we get to the biggie: who we are and how we shall live? Then, it’s “Katie, bar the door.”
Marx famously wrote that religion is the opiate of the people. Well, of course, as is most everything designed to blue pill us into submission. I stumbled upon a couple of 18-year-olds on Instagram. They’re each heading into their second semester at College, and have similar complaints:
1. School is hard. There are expectations. Deadlines.
2. They are self-declared feminists, and are not to be questioned about their beliefs, because:
a. they are female
b. they have read books
3. The expectations of their colleges are set by white males, so of course are suspect.
4. Everyone in the world should see what they see, and immediately change.
I’m not really mocking them, because I am a “child of the 60s,” and we believed the same stuff about College, our elders, etc. We protested, we marched, we expounded. And then, the majority of us bought into the system. Blue pill.
So, what’s up with that?
Blue pill allows for a modicum of protest. It allows for demonization and blame. Because the best way to keep us imprisoned is to get us to blame others, and to make them responsible for our happiness (and they always fail, right?).
The last thing society wants is for people to discover that any prison is of their own making.
The Buddha was one of many who held out his hand, with the pill choice readily available. He learned from his own experience, and encouraged his followers to do the same: “…test what I say by trying it out.”
Religion, on the other hand, no matter which one, holds only one pill. A blue pill, designed by the bureaucrats, and structured to say, “Don’t question, don’t experiment, do it this way.”
The vast majority of my clients, for the 31 years I was in private practice, wanted blue pill fixes. They wanted me to fix their partner. They wanted me to “make them happy,” by waving a wand, I guess. I’d offer, endlessly, a red pill… hard work, a total change in perspective, and I’d get excuses.
Too hard, no time, you don’t understand, I’m special…
The few, well, they opened one eye just a crack, and they began to see the lies, the deceptions, the games… the matrix.
And all around them, hands outstretched, blue pills at the ready.
Over the next while, I’ll write about red pill thinking… about the alternative to being asleep… about the alternative to blaming others for who and where you are. I’m going to ask you to question what you believe, at a deep level, and to come to a self-responsible place.
You don’t have to become a Buddhist to do this work, although I tend to use Zen as a way to describe these principles. You don’t have to leave your religion or politics, or even leave your partner.
You just have to stop swallowing blue pills. Stop letting others tell you who to be, what to think, what to do.
And then… you gotta do it again. And again.