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The Journal of Religion and Film

Buddhism, Christianity, and The Matrix:
The Dialectic of Myth-Making in Contemporary Cinema


Buddhism, Christianity, and
The Dialectic of Myth-Making in Contemporary Cinema

by James L. Ford, Ph.D.


[1] This essay analyzes the recent film The Matrix from the perspective of modern-day myth-making. After a brief plot summary of the film, I note the well-documented parallels to the Christian messianic narrative of Jesus. I then go on to highlight the often overlooked parallels to the Buddhist existential analysis of the human condition. In particular, I note a remarkable resonance between The Matrix and the fourth century (C.E.) philosophical school of Buddhism known as Yogacara. By highlighting the syncretic or combinative nature of the film's symbolic narrative, I submit The Matrix as a cinematic example of the dialectical process of myth-making by means of Peter Berger's theory of socio-cultural construction.

[2] Humans are mythologizing and, as Peter Berger would suggest, "world-building" creatures. We appropriate elements from our past and present to fashion epic narratives and myths for a variety of existential, sociological, and religious ends. Myths are not fixed narrative forms, however. Studies of traditionally oral cultures evidence considerable elasticity in the details of a particular myth. And history also demonstrates that myths often evolve as a result of cultural diffusion and contact. Myths are constantly adapted to new cultural contexts and worldly realities. While the invention of writing inspired a more fixed status for some myths, it did not halt the ongoing adaptation and amalgamation of previously disparate mythological themes and concepts.

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Is buddhism a world wide religion?

yes, however it has more followers in Asia than anywhere else

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