Gadadhara Pandit Dasa is the first Hindu to be part of the campus ministry at Columbia University through the Union Theological Seminary. Pandit gave a lecture on Feb. 14, 2014 at Yoga on High in Columbus. The goal of the lecture was to relate some of the philosophical questions raised in The Matrix movie to traditional Hindu beliefs as expressed in the Bhagavad Gita, which is considered to be the major Hindu holy text.
Pandit showed clips from The Matrix movie and asked the audience to remember the dialog that caught their attention. The opening clip was when Neo got a message on his PC. The first line was “SEARCHING”. The second line was “wake up Neo”, and the third line was “the Matrix has you.” The clip unfolds to where the authorities from the Matrix begin chasing Neo.
Pandit then began relating the concepts found in The Matrix movie to the Bhagavad Gita. You can read an English version of the Bhagavad Gita. Chapter 1 is of special interest because it introduces the characters that are being related to those characters in the movie.
Pandit explained how Neo was like Prince Arjuna of the Bhagavad Gita, and Morpheus was like Lord Krishna, the guide for Prince Arjuna. The opening of The Matrix has Neo beginning to face the consequences of his being a computer hacker. The opening of the Bhagavad Gita has Arjuna about to enter the fight of his life while undergoing a crisis of faith and self doubt. Neo and Arjuna both face extreme circumstances.
Through questioning his audience, Pandit established that three of the common questions that have occurred with humans across time and cultures are:
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
- Where am I going?
Neo was unsure as to the nature of reality. He was unaware that the reality of the Matrix was different than actual reality. There have been many spiritual philosophers that have asserted that mankind is mostly asleep throughout their entire lives. Morpheus struggled to awaken Neo as did Lord Krishna struggle to awaken Prince Arjuna.
The spiritualist answer to “Who am I?” is that we are all children of the Creator. Pandit did not really answer the question, and that is very appropriate. These questions cannot be answered by another person, no matter how enlightened the second person appears to be.
Likewise, “Why am I here?” must be an individual response. Each person lives their answer, whether they are aware or not. Some live to gain power and money. Some live to develop into better human beings and serve others. Each person chooses their purpose, and each person lives the consequences of these decisions.
“Where am I going?” can be answered cynically that we are all heading to the grave. This is true of the physical body, but we are more than our physical body. We are also more than our mind and consciousness. Spiritualists know that when we pass, the body decays, the mind ceases to function, but the consciousness continues.
Another point made by Pandit from observing the movie was that we all constantly face choices, and we have to bear the consequences of our actions. One of the base concepts of spiritualism is that we are responsible for our actions and our lives reflect the consequences of our decisions. Hindus call these consequences karma. Neo experiences the consequences of his decisions throughout the movie. He decided to try to leave the Matrix, and the authorities tried to keep him there.
One of the challenges of those seeking the true reality of things is that we don’t know what we are facing, and we may find that reality is not what we actually want to experience. This is similar to those that say they want the truth about a relationship, but avoid asking the person their true feelings. While we may not like the truth, the truth will always set us free.
The second movie clip showed the removal of an organism that works like an RF chip we might put in our family dog, but is a much more gruesome living device. It also shows the rebirth of Neo as a person that will now be outside of the Matrix. Through another physical ordeal, the connections of the Matrix are ripped out of Neo. He is now free of connections to the Matrix, but still being pursued as a traitor to the establishment.
The mechanism for the continuation of consciousness is through reincarnation for Hindus. The details of how people reincarnate with regard to their future physical existence are subject to debate. Some believe that there is an upward progression of lifetimes, while others believe that the next life is tied to the karma of the past lives. Like most things religious or spiritual, it is up to the individual to decide their beliefs.
Pandit continued to explain that the search for reality reveals a great deal about the person doing the searching. Hindus highly recommend finding a guru as the guide to spiritual development. The world religions generally embrace the concept of finding a person more experienced or advanced to provide guidance in development of the student. Spiritualists often find their guidance being offered by family members or Master Teachers that originate in the spirit realm and not sitting across the room.
Pandit has published a book entitled Urban Monk; Exploring Karma, Consciousness and the Divine. He discusses the progress of his own life from being a member of a very wealthy family in Los Angeles to being a Monk living in New York. The journey is interesting and illustrates how a life can be altered for the better by extreme circumstances. You can communicate with Pandit through his website and get an overview of his book.
When Pandit makes his next visit to Columbus, we will have an opportunity to further experience his insights and humor, while he helps us ask and answer our major life questions. Pandit makes the point in the attached video that there are prophets for each religion. Live your faith to the maximum to be the best human being you can be. Don't judge other religions. Just be yourself and do the best you can.
Thank you, Gadadhara Pandit Dasa for being an authentic human being.