A basic element of the spiritual path common to every culture and tradition is that the material world is full of trips and snares which beguile and entrap the seeker. This usually expands into teachings that life as we know it is a prison which must be escaped, a dream from which we must awaken, an illusion which we must penetrate in order to attain the real.
Another tradition common to ancient Greece and India is that the world descends ever deeper into the tarpit of illusion with each succeeding aeon. Humanity hits the bottom of the pit in the Iron Age or Kali Yuga ~ and that’s where we are right now.
I had some familiarity with these doctrines before I discovered their gut-wrenching truth in a cataclysmic awakening to the reality behind the illusion. In 1985 I was camped out on a hilltop in Berkeley, California. I had a great view of the Bay and the cities on its shores, with various scales of human activity visible from the near to the far distance. I saw that it all concatenated into a metaphysical overlay, a nightmarish vision of a giant robotic creature straddling the landscape. The cars moving along the streets and highways were metal corpuscles flowing in its asphalt veins. Industrial installations were organs in its mechanical body, as it exhaled poisons into the air and extended its tentacles into the woods and wilderness. I called it the Macrobot.
I realized that what I was seeing was merely the local manifestation of a global reality: the Macrobot was a Geist inhabiting the technostructure that girdles the planet, a diabolic Deus ex Machina. All the vital energy of the people unwittingly trapped inside this monstrosity was getting sucked up into the mechanism and consumed. It was steadily draining their numenal fluids as they moved through their lives, and I grasped the horrible fact that after death it would finish the job and eat their souls.
The veil also lifted on the avant-garde circles of people I had been hanging out with, the media stars whom we all admired, the hedonistic lifestyle followed by all such people, and the ideal of a high-tech utopia. I now saw this as a degenerate mass delusion ~ and furthermore, I saw that the reality perceived by the mass of people is literally a collective hallucination, a planetary fantasyland generated by the media and the artificial technologized lifestyle.
This visionary experience evolved into a permanent change of being. In the years that followed I altered my lifestyle to heed the vision and reclaim my humanity. In the late ’90s I worked it up as a fictional story called Do Robots Go To Electric Heaven?
Then when the Matrix flick came out I was astounded and gratified to find that other people had glimpsed the dark secret and were expressing it in remarkably similar imagery. I wrote an essay tying it all together, titled In Search of the Real World. And recently I coined a term to sum up the collective affliction of postmodern people: they are Matrix Babies.