Temet Nosce – A Latin Sign for a Greek Oracle?
“Temet Nosce” is a LATIN phrase meaning, “Know Thyself.” The ‘Oracle, in literature, is a GREEK mythological figure. As things are rarely as they appear to be in the Matrix trilogy, this should be a hint that the answer may not be from anything Latin or Greek — despite 20 years of blogs, articles, websites, etc., discussing that.
Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign
The Temet Nosce sign makes two ‘appearances’ — once in The Matrix and again in Matrix Revolutions.
One is the first time the Oracle and Neo meet:
The Oracle: So, what do you think? Do you think you’re The One?
Neo: I don’t know.
The Oracle: You know what that means? (Pointing to the Temet Nosce sign.) It’s Latin. Means “Know thyself”. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Being The One is just like being in love. No one can tell you you’re in love, you just know it. Through and through. Balls to bones. Well, I better have a look at you. Open your mouth, say Ahhh.
After this exchange, the Oracle proceeds to tell Neo he is not the One. At least “not yet.” She makes it clear that the possibility does exist. This is the kabbalistic idea of a “messiah in potential.”
To Know What It Is To ‘Know’
The concept of “knowing” in kabbalah, implies a very intimate unity. The term is “da’at,” pronounced “dah-aht.’ This intimate bond can be physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual.
For example, Da’at is the same term used in Genesis 4:1 to describe Adam having sexual relations with Eve as well as that used to describe “spiritual knowledge” in Daniel 12:4.
As a simple explanation, if someone were to ask you what 2 plus 2 equals, you would without hesitation answer 4. You didn’t need to pause and think about the answer – that bit of information is “part of you.”
That is true da’at. It is the idea of a complete connection to something or someone.
Deeper into Temet Nosce
“Know thyself.” OK, but what is this ‘self’ we need to ‘know,’ and what’s how do we accomplish this?
This takes us back to our background study on the sefirot. Those ten emanations are not only the building blocks of each world of existence, they are also the attributes that we humans are designed upon. Kabbalah relates this construct of ten, to the “Image of God.”
This brings us to the second mention of the Temet Nosce sign, this time in The Matrix Revolutions:
Neo: Then why didn’t you tell me about the Architect? Why didn’t you tell me about Zion, the Ones before me – why didn’t you tell me the truth?
Oracle: Because it wasn’t time for you to know.
Neo: Who decided it wasn’t time?
Oracle: You know who.
At which moment, the Oracle points to the sign above his head, and Neo replies:
Neo: I did.
The process of “knowing yourself” is largely based on the system of attributes we are all designed upon, and the particular ways and intensities those attributes manifest in each person.
The six ’emotive’ or ‘connecting’ attributes are specifically the ones we “work on” through each cycle of change.
Looking back at the Tree of Life diagram in connection to the Matrix story, we see the six exist between the false reality of the Matrix (at Malkhut) and the higher reality of the three upper entities.
Those six intermediate attributes are the main part of the path of “knowing yourself” – the path of the One.
(This will be important in our discussion of why Neo is the “6th” and final “One.”)
The Oracle, positioned immediately above the six, is the one instigating this process for the freed humans. This is her purpose of ‘unbalancing’ things (as she calls it) in the lives of the characters.
The Path of the Three Matrix Movies
This reveals a critical concept in the Matrix movies, related to the development of Neo. This path takes him from his place in the the Matrix world of concealment all the way to the Source.
As we outline in our introductory article, the three Matrix movies follow the first three levels of the soul. Neo proceeds from the lowest level of Nefesh in The Matrix, then to that of Ruach in The Matrix Reloaded and finally to the level of Neshama in The Matrix Revolutions.
Which begs the question: How is Neo in the fourth Matrix movie if he died?