The Five Soul Levels on the Path of the One
In the previous article, we provided the framework for the five “worlds” of reality found in kabbalah, going from the Creator “down to” our material world, and in the Matrix, from the Source toward the final creation of the Matrix itself.
There is another aspect to the “template of five” that relates to the individual’s path ‘back’ from the world of concealment we live in (the Matrix) back to our ‘Source.’
This “return path” is understood as five levels of the soul in the kabbalistic tradition. In modern terms, it can also be understood as increasing levels of personal consciousness.
In the Matrix storyline, these are presented as personal “levels of progression,” that Neo advances through in order to reach the Source. As we will show, Neo moves forward “one level per movie.”
“The entire duration of exile is really a process of rectification, of tikkun (repair) … the process of redemption is a linear series of events. Each event emerges from the previous one, and is the preparation for the subsequent stage. This chronology is a synthesis of the spiritually divine Order of Creation, which slowly unfolds in synchronization with the physical world, before our eyes.”
‘Secrets of the Redemption,’ Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (mid-18th century)
Thus, the “template of five” is a ‘two-way’ path. It is both how creation came into existence from the Creator down to humans, as well as how humans “return to their Source.” As one might suspect, they have common aspects and one can be understood through the others.
Tsimtum – Constriction
The concept of ‘tsimtsum’ (constriction in order to make room for something new) is also connected to both ‘directions.’ In the first case, the original perfect ‘singularity’ constricts more and more through each world of existence. This goes all the way down to our world of coarse physicality and ‘concealment’ of the other worlds. This is why people in the Matrix think what they see, hear and feel, is “all there is.”
With regard to human advancement, all spiritual progression (or “increase in consciousness”) depends on a constriction. As Morpheus conveyed to Neo, ours is, “the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” Tsimtsum enables us to see true reality and negotiate our best course of action.
Five Levels/Dimensions of the Soul
The five levels of the soul exist “in potential” within each person. In terms of spiritual advancement, when you meet the ‘requirements’ of one level, you begin working on the next one.
This is alluded to in the first Matrix movie when the Oracle (in her own subtle way) said to Neo:
Sorry, kid. You got the gift, but it looks like you’re waiting for something.
As we will show, it is a function of the Oracle to set the requirements or ‘condition‘ for everyone. She plays a major role at every level of the soul.
Each of the five dimensions of the soul has a name. These originate in the Aramaic or Hebrew languages. As you will see, they greatly correspond to the four levels of existence.
Here we present a basic understanding, from the basic to the most advanced level:
NEFESH (SOUL): Every human has this basic level of the soul. There are two aspects to the Nefesh that struggle against each other. One is about self-preservation and self-gratification. This is the soul concealed within a shell (klippah) within our present existence. It relates to what Morpheus calls the ‘inured’ humans still in the Matrix. It is not inherently good or bad, but “left by itself,” it will gravitate solely toward “physical existence” and materialistic pursuits. Much of humanity never goes beyond this. (This is what got the humans into the Matrix in the first place!)
The other aspect is not so concealed but is similar to the ‘identity’ of the Source/God. (Thus, the Matrix concept of having to “return to the Source.”) It transcends physical existence and has the ‘spark’ within it to “search for more in life,” as Neo did. This aspect of the soul is what is capable of effecting change within the person and the world. It is the driving force behind the Path of the One (and others on that path) and the fulfillment of the Matrix prophecy.
The Nefesh level of the soul corresponds to the Matrix world and our own (lowsest) world of the physical senses. (See chart below.)
RUACH (SPIRIT): Sometimes things happen that cause a person to contemplate spiritual matters and they begin to investigate. This is the soul level of Ruach. Here, a person may question, struggle, advance, stagnate or even retreat in their spiritual life. This level is often associated with dreams. (More on this later!) In the Matrix and in life, this is the realm of choice.
The Ruach level corresponds to the program world of the Matrix and angelic world of existence.
NESHAMA (BREATH): This is where someone makes a true connection with spirituality – something “beyond the physical and emotional aspects of creation.” This is also where they begin to understand the choice they made in terms of their “mission in life.” As we will see, this level relates to meeting the Oracle. This is also associated with reaching a level of personal consciousness.
The Neshama relates to the beginning and highest world of ‘Creation.’
CHAYA (LIFE): This fourth level of the soul has to do with a deeper change in “consciousness” – one beyond creation. This involves a spiritual relationship and sense of responsibility to others – beyond personal consciousness. Chaya is a level of collective consciousness.
This relates to the VERY different world of existence before the actual creation. That of a “composite oneness.” (UPDATE 1.1.22: This is key to understanding the ‘binary’ references throughout the fourth movie, The Matrix Resurrections.)
YECHIDA (SINGULAR): The uppermost aspect of the soul is very distinct from the other four. Whereas they are seen as individual levels, Yechida is the essence of the soul, transcending and permeating all. In this way, it resembles the simple non-composite oneness of pre-existence. discussed in the previous article.
Yechida is associated with total self-lessness (called ‘bittul’) and unity with the Creator. It is also called the “essential idea of messiah” – a term/concept often associated with Neo. As we explain below, attaining this at one level opens the door to the next level of progression.
The chart below shows the five levels of the soul placed alongside the previous template of the five worlds of existence and the worlds within the Matrix story. As we discuss throughout the Knowledge Base, they are all connected and pertinent to Neo’s journey.
Five within Five
So far so good? Time to dive deeper.
Each of the five levels of the soul connects to a dimension of the five “within it.” What this means is, when repairing any one level, we go through stages of restoring aspects of each of the five within that one, before moving on to the next.
When rectifying the first level of Nefesh, we work on the aspects of:
- Nefesh within the Nefesh, then
- Ruach within the Nefesh, then
- Neshama within the Nefesh, then
- Chaya within the Nefesh, then
- Yechida within the Nefesh
Once we have dealt with the Nefesh fully, we begin work on the next major level of Ruach. We follow the same path of the One: Nefesh within the Ruach, then Ruach within the Ruach, Neshama within Ruach, etc.
You can’t skip any of the “required work.” Each new level of advancement depends on the completion of the previous.
Levels of Progression in the Matrix Movies
This is where things go “beyond coincidence.” From the time the character of “Thomas Anderson” (Neo) first seeks out the Matrix, each of the movies is about him repairing one level of his soul, after another.
Thus, with regard to Neo’s character over the course of the Matrix trilogy (see chart above), we have:
- The first Matrix movie is the repair of his Nefesh
- Matrix Reloaded is the repair of his Ruach
- Matrix Revolutions is the repair of his Neshama
This kabbalistic text frames the path of the One as it relates to what he needed to understand and how that relates to “the Source”:
“One of the things for which man will be judged is whether he investigated the nature of his soul, what he came into this world for, and what he came to fix in this world. Because when a man places these things upon his heart, he will be swift as a strong man to run after the paths of life, to correct what he should correct, in order to fulfill the intention of the Creator.”
Zohar Chadash, Shir haShirim
As the Oracle said, “We’re all here to do, what we’re all here to do.”
Inside the Soul Dimensions of the First Three Movies
The mind desires to attain the Creator because this aspiration is imprinted in its nature.
Finding the Creator Within, Michael Laitman
A person naturally resides in a state of solitude. Not emotional lonesomeness but rather a sort of existential aloofness. The ability to desire and want breaks this façade of indifference and allows us to connect with stimuli outside of us.
Ayin Beis: Existence Unplugged, Rabbi Simon Jacobson
Let’s look at Neo’s journey in more detail, through the first three movies, correlating each of the five dimensions of the soul to aspects of the Matrix story.
The following pattern repeats in all three movies with Neo:
- Asleep and awakens with questions about his present state (condition)
- Experiences Confusion, Doubt, Struggle
- Receives personal direction from the Oracle
- Experiences a deeper connection with other humans
- Engages in selfless action and advancement (to the next major level)
As mentioned, The Matrix (the first movie) relates to the basic soul level of Nefesh. This is primarily about Neo leaving the Matrix (and its false ‘reality’) and beginning to understand his role as “the One.”
Keeping in mind the above pattern, let’s follow Neo’s progression through this first level and movie:
- Nefesh of Nefesh – “Born in Matrix” as Thomas Anderson (this is his ‘condition’ at this level). He senses the “splinter in his mind,” as Morpheus calls it. Notice each movie starts with Neo in some state of sleep, which relates to the Nefesh within each level.
- Ruach of Nefesh – He pursues his thoughts that there is more to life though he is unsure as to what this means. Once he meets Morpheus, he has his first ‘real’ choice to make by taking the red pill.
- Neshama of Nefesh – Neo is freed from the confines of the Matrix and soon connects with the Oracle. (Meeting her is at this third, Neshama stage, in each movie).
- Chaya of Nefesh – His consciousness is altered and he sees himself as fighting for all humans – as ‘the One.’ (He experiences a new aspect of connection to others at the Chaya level of each soul dimension.)
- Yechida of Nefesh – He gives up his life and is ‘resurrected.’ Neo has fulfilled the requirement of the Nefesh level and is ready to advance.
The Matrix Reloaded corresponds to the next soul dimension of Ruach. In this movie, Neo grapples with additional programs, humans, and new situations. As mentioned, “personal struggle” is the key feature of this level of the soul.
We see from the beginning of this second film, that Neo has to deal with doubt. He tells Trinity how he does not know what his next steps should be. He also experiences dreams that seem to offer connection, yet are not clear.
Acquiring “bits and pieces” of what is ‘beyond’ is typical of the soul-level of Ruach. (Recall this is the aspect of the messengers/angels going back and forth, in the analogy to Jacob’s ladder in our previous post.)
In Matrix Reloaded, Neo enters the same 5-stage process, only now for the Ruach dimension of the soul:
- Nefesh of Ruach – He awakens and then feels confusion around his task – this is his ‘condition’ at the start of the movie.
- Ruach of Ruach – Neo experiences troubling dreams that are perplexing to him and has confusion and doubt about his task.
- Neshama of Ruach – He meets with the Oracle a second time, who says he “turned out all right,” reflecting the repair of his Nefesh (Remember, the Oracle is always at this 3rd level.) She also explains more to him about ‘his choice,’ which relates back to the dimension of Ruach within Nefesh, as mentioned previously.
- Chaya of Ruach – He meets with the Architect who explains his connection to all humanity. (Although the Architect’s view is limited in scope as the Oracle says of him.)
- Yechida of Ruach – Neo again experiences a death-like experience and later ‘awakens’ in the Train Station (This places him at the beginning of the third leg of his soul journey).
The Matrix Revolutions brings Neo to the third soul level of Neshama. Here he makes a connection with the Source, to the point of willful martyrdom for the sake of humanity.
- Nefesh of Neshama – he awakens in the Train station unsure of his status – the ‘condition’ for this new level.
- Ruach of Neshama – his discussion with Rama Kandra about ‘connection’ – his first dream/vision of the three power lines.
- Neshama of Neshama – his third meeting with the Oracle at this level is the most critical as she gives him deeper insight that he was not before prepared to accept. This relates directly to the concept of step-by-step advancement, via the soul levels, which is the essence of her Temet Nosce/Know Thyself plaque, as to ‘know’ is to connect.)
- Chaya of Neshama – he comes to fully understand what his mission is to save everyone.
- Yechida of Neshama – he willfully gives up his life in connecting with the Source.
But Wait, There’s More!
So, that’s three movies and three levels of the soul for Neo. But we indicated there are five in all, right? Here is one of the many amazing connections between kabbalah and the Matrix storyline.
The first three levels of the soul function together and are accessible to any spiritually-minded person:
Having defined nefesh, ruach and neshama, if we examine the relationships between them we find that they in fact form a single unit … (they are) one Divine light whose source is in the Ein Sof.
Song of the Soul, Yechiel Bar-Lev
Just like the first three Matrix movies are a ‘unit.’
It is taught that the two higher levels of the soul, Chaya and Yechida, are fully accessible only after one dies. This is because the soul needs to be totally free from the restrictions of the physical body to accomplish certain spiritual tasks.
As the Zohar, the preeminent text of kabbalah, says:
The righteous can do more after their death, than in life.
This is especially relevant with regard to Neo and the Matrix movies. By the end of Matrix Revolutions, Neo has attained the level of Neshama and the height of “personal consciousness.” This enabled his connection to the Source, bringing light into the Matrix world (via Smith!).
The language in this quote is truly ‘Matrix-like’:
Only the Neshama can receive additional illumination from the SOURCE of light itself.
Song of the Soul, Yechiel Bar-Lev
As we discuss in our articles, Neo “paved the way” for others to follow:
The Creator has endowed every creature with special ‘vessels’ to ‘receive’ the divine light shining from the substance of the Ein Sof. (i.e., the Source)
Song of the Soul, Yechiel Bar-Lev
For Neo to truly rectify these higher levels of the soul, he would have to die. Thus, we need a fourth movie with Neo in it, but he has to have had passed on.
There is only one more rabbit hole to go down in our “kabbalah crash course” to go. Hang in there, then we get into the character profiles and much more!
UPDATE 1.1.22: Here we are, some 18 years later, and voilà – The Matrix Resurrections – the dead “live on” with continued purpose!
There is something ‘beyond’ the connection Neo made at the end of The Matrix Revolutions. What he is “here to do,” is much greater than the temporary peace he brought at the end of the third film. There is a higher level of connectivity and unity that Neo must reach that enables the rest of the humans to be freed.
The famous ‘prophecy’ has yet to be fulfilled – the Matrix was not destroyed. The prophecy was not a lie. It is just not properly comprehended. Remember the Oracle’s words about not seeing past what we can’t understand?
In kabbalah, it is taught that there are TWO specific stages to the task of freeing humanity from the world of concealment. Not only does the first sets up the second, but there is also a ‘gap of time’ in between these. That gap is where we’re at. Keep this in mind as we go forward. We explain this in detail in The Matrix Resurrections articles in our Knowledge Base.