The Five Levels on the Path of the One
In the previous article, we provided the kabbalistic framework for the five “worlds” of reality upon which the Matrix trilogy is based. That template was primarily presented as going from the Creator to our material world, and in the Matrix, from 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 Matrix to the Source. This is understood as five dimensions or ‘levels’ of the soul. In the Matrix storyline, these are personal “levels of progression,” that Neo advances through in order to reach the Source.
Thus, the “template of five” provides a ‘two-way’ path. It is simultaneously how creation came into existence from the Creator down to humans, as well as how humans “return to their Source.”
The concept of ‘tsimtsum’ (constriction in order to make room for something new) is connected to both. The singular infiniteness 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 relates to the idea of Hester Panim – “hiding of the face” of God.) The purpose of this hiding is for us to seek and find, a process that is exemplified in Neo’s journey on the “path of the One.”
All spiritual progression 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 Dimensions of the Soul
These dimensions 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. Here we present a basic understanding, from the basic to the most advanced level:
- NEFESH (SOUL): Every human shares this basic level of the soul. It’s primarily about self-preservation and self-gratification. Much of humanity never goes beyond this. (This relates to what Morpheus calls the ‘inured’ humans still in the Matrix). Regarding spirituality, someone at this level is unsure or even in denial that there is more to our physical/materialistic existence. Yet, the ‘spark’ to “search for more in life” (as Neo did) exists at this basic soul level in each person.
- 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. In the Matrix and in life, this is the realm of choice.
- NESHAMA (BREATH): This is where someone makes their true connection with spirituality – something “beyond the physical and emotional aspects of creation.” This is also where they begin understand the choice they made in terms of their “mission in life.” As we will see, this relates to meeting the Oracle.
- CHAYA (LIFE): This fourth dimension of the soul has to do with a change in “consciousness” – one beyond creation, including a spiritual relationship and responsibility to others. (i.e., collective soul/consciousness)
- YECHIDA (SINGULAR): The uppermost aspect of the soul is associated with total selflessness (‘bittul’) and unity with the Creator. Attaining this at one level opens the door for the next major level of progression.
This chart shows the five dimensions 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 related and pertinent to Neo’s journey.
Five within Five
So far so good? Time to dive deeper.
Each dimension of the soul connects to all five dimensions “within it.” What this means is, when repairing any level, we go through stages of restoring aspects of each of the five levels within that one, before moving on to the next.
- When rectifying the first level of Nefesh, we work on aspects of; 1.) the Nefesh within the Nefesh, then 2.) Ruach within the Nefesh, 3.) Neshama within the Nefesh, 4.) Chaya within the Nefesh and finally 5.) Yechida within the Nefesh
- Having dealt with the Nefesh, we begin work on the next major level of Ruach. We follow the same path: Nefesh within the Ruach, then Ruach within the Ruach, Neshama within Ruach, etc.
- This continues through all five levels. You can’t skip any of the “required work.” Each new level of advancement depends on the previous.
Neo’s Levels of Progression
From the time “Thomas Anderson” 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
We will be citing from kabbalistic texts through the Knowledge Base. This one frames Neo’s path 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 70:4
As the Oracle said, “We’re all here to do, what we’re all here to do.”
Inside the Levels of the First Three Movies
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 story.
The following pattern repeats in all three movies with Neo:
- Confusion/Curiosity (and asleep!)
- Unclarity, Struggle, Doubt
- Direction from the Oracle
- A deeper connection to other humans
- Selfless action and advancement
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, 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. 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 the 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 a key attribute of this level of the soul.
We see from the beginning of this second film, where 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 has confusion around his task – this is his ‘condition’ at the start of the movie.
- Ruach of Ruach – Neo experiences troubling dreams that are not very clear.
- 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 level.) She also explains more to him about ‘his choice,’ which relates back to the dimension of Ruach with Nefesh, as mentioned previously.
- Chaya of Ruach – He meets with the Architect who explains his connection to all humanity.
- 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 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.
- 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.
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. For him to truly rectify the 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.
Here we are, some 18 years later and voilà – the dead “live on” with a purpose!
Yes, there is something ‘beyond’ the connection Neo made to the Source in 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.
The famous ‘prophecy’ has yet to be fulfilled – the Matrix was not destroyed. And no, the prophecy was not a lie. It is just misunderstood. (Remember the Oracle’s words about not seeing past what we can’t understand.)
There is a higher level of connectivity and unity that Neo must reach that enables the rest of the humans to be freed.
In kabbalah, it is taught that there are two major stages to the task of freeing humanity from the world of concealment. The first sets up the second and there is ‘gap of time’ in-between these. We explain this in detail in our “Matrix 4” articles.
That’s where we’re at. Keep this in mind as we go forward.
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!