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I had an acquaintance-type friend once who joined a spiritual spoon-bending cult. He told me about it at a backyard party. I didn’t know anyone other than magicians took the endeavor quite so literally.

While I’ve never successfully tried to physically bend anything with my mind, I did contemplate the spoon concept deeply after watching The Matrix. It wasn’t until I paired the movie with Eastern philosophy that I understood the following lines.

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Spoon boy: There is no spoon. Then you’ll realize it is not the spoon that bends. It is only yourself.

I’m currently reading How to See Yourself as You Really Are by the Dalai Lama [UPDATE 2023: This book is in the landfill now]. In it, he talks about nothingness – how everything is really nothing.

WhaWha?!? I know right? What the heck are you talking about DL?

Then I had a real, golden, slow motion epiphany.

I was looking at a house. I asked myself, “Does this house really exist?”

My answer was surprisingly a confident “no.”

How could this be? I see it right in front of me. Someone lives in this dang house. Am I supposed to knock on their door and tell them it doesn’t exist?

Looking at the house, I see it made up of wooden beams, shingles, nails, and the labor that went into making it. It’s not a house – it is all of these things compiled together.

Each of the things that comprise the house aren’t what they seem to be either. Each piece is made up of labor, original source materials, ideas and dreams, all the way down to molecules. The house would not exist without the other components.

I’ve always understood that reality is subjective, and our perception of reality is what creates our inner world. Ignoring that a house stood in front of me, or bending a physical object with my mind was still confounding.

Now I see, bending the spoon with my mind has nothing to do with actually bending the spoon – not unless you’re literally living in a computer generated world (I’m not totally discounting that idea).

The spoon is anything that exists in our lives. We have the power to change how we see.

We can bend our perceptions and create our world.

This isn’t magic, this is part of realizing that nothing exists in and of itself. Everything exists in harmony with all other things, and our perception is limitless.

The spoon in the movie was just a metaphor for beliefs, or perception. In real life, we can’t bend spoons with our minds (even though there are religious cults that dedicate their lives to this). We can however realize the spoon, or anything else, can be viewed in infinite ways.

Apply this to a relationship or situation you’re having difficulty with. How do you currently view that situation? Are there other ways to see it? What assumptions, or judgments are you placing on that person/situation? If you changed your perspective, would the situation change? Can you bend the spoon?

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever contemplated this scene in the movie. What is your interpretation?