Emptiness, Form, Spaceyness • 17 March 2009

Or: Keanu Trifecta

In addition to sort of fulfilling my plans to read classics on the first plane and treat the second as a floating meditation retreat (air travel as an ideal samsara, make it your bodhi tree and keep boarding flight after flight until you’re realized?), I also managed to execute a  Keanu trifecta on the LAX-LDN-BAN causeway.

It started, I am embarrassed to tell you, with The Matrix Revolutions. It’s still a bad movie, but I didn’t realize before that it’s a tight screed on bad advaita. On one side the manifest world: fleshy humans sweating, politicking and making love inside the earth. On the other, the digital unmanifest, its machine envoys out for blood. Humans seamlessly, easily “jack in” to the transcending realm and temporarily lose the specific immanent body, yes; but when that virtual world wants to be the only world, well then there is a problem. The hate and terror, the simultaneous numbness of mind and heart, of the machines’ war on earth and the body are nicely done. The nihilist Smith, in embodied manifestation, gives sputtering, blood-curdled voice to the machines' crusade, telling Neo between punches that mortal flesh is disgusting, weak, must be cast off entirely.

But in the film's world, the manifest and the unmanifest are mutually dependent, which the machines only admit at the end, faced with annihilation. The bomb, global warming, Hitler: forces this evil take out the physical world and reveal that without it, there is no unmanifest. (What would happen to Spirit if we erased Earth?) Advaita that wants to flee the manifest is actually a pathological psychokiller.


Charmed by the message, I moved on to Dangerous Liaisons, in which Keanu plays the same character he did in the Matrix. But DL is actually good, so I continued after that to The Day the Earth Stood Still. Keanu’s an otherworldly naïf with open-featured woodenness in that one too! But the film is so, so bad that I will dignify it with no more of a response. After watching it, remorse set in and I realized I should have just stayed quiet and watched these I’m-excited-to-be-on-vacation chemicals circulate my body the whole time.

Later, back on planet Earth (supposedly), I turned my head at a communal table and there was Eeyore. Yes, he’s been missing for a year but I found him without even trying and one of the first things he told me was that he’d been having Keanu problems too.

“Is this the astralplane?” I murmured so the others wouldn’t hear.


Later I saw him carrying around I Am That, the old take-you-straight-to-the-astralplane book I’ve been avoiding for years. Turns out it’s a heavy tome!

“But Robbie why is it so big? Shouldn’t it be a lot shorter? How many times can you write Everything is One?”

“No no, it doesn’t say anything. You are just supposed to look at the colors. Black and white page after page until it becomes a blur.”

So then I was confused. I thought the internet was the unmanifest, the world of 1s and 0s. And that earthly life was the manifest. But then clearly, Mecca is the real astralplane and he and I are both jacked in, making contact with I am That just by tossing around its weight.

That’s when I realized that lucidity might be a good idea. Ate a piece of toast and started trying to find my body again, to ask it if it wouldn’t mind submitting to a night of sleep.