A ‘Lost’ Perspective
Personally, I was not disappointed with the finale of Lost, as I had been anticipating this type of direction by the writers, but had no idea of how it would actually end. I fully appreciate and understand why some people are dissatisfied and feel that their questions were not answered satisfactorily. It is definitely a legitimate argument. This is the reason why I am posting the following information. It is a lengthy read, but a worthy one and I cannot take credit for its content. This information greatly assisted in providing me with a better understanding of the story early on this season and I wanted to share it with you now. It is not a theory or a debate and I am not here to argue its merits. If this resonates with you in part or in full…great and if it doesn’t…fine. It simply is, what it is….another way of looking at Lost.
The context of Lost is mostly allegorical. In figuring out the essence of the show there are pivotal points, which you may see in a new light and understand just how cleverly the writers disguised the themes in it. My only personal criticism of the writers is, that I think that they disguised the themes a little too well for my liking. Lost was a philosophical show as evident by the use of the names of John Locke, Desmond David Hume, Edmund Burke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau; philosophers from the Age of Reason, or The Age of Enlightenment.
Enlightenment comes from the East, the place of birth of the Sun, which settles in the West, the place of death. Karma is the law of moral causation. The theory of Karma is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism and is very important to understanding the purpose of the characters and what they experienced. Clues relating to Karma were seen throughout the series. Recall Locke’s girlfriend Helen wearing a pink T-shirt which had the words “Peace and Karma” written on it. Recall Dogen’s assistant, Lennon who uncannily resembled John Lennon in physical appearance. John Lennon wrote the songs ‘Instant Karma’ and ‘Watching the Wheels’. Consider the lyrics of the latter song. “Surely you’re not happy now you no longer play the game” and “Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me” and “No longer riding on the merry-go-round, I just had to let it go” and “Ah, people asking questions LOST in confusion…I’m just sitting here doing time.” Now recall Desmond’s words in the finale about why he was pursuing John Locke. “I just want him to let it go”.
Also, consider the story Dogen (the real Dogen was considered to be the father of Zen Buddhism) tells Sayid before he kills him. Dogen says that he was driving drunk, was in a very bad car accident with his son, and that he made a deal with Jacob regarding his son. His son lives, and Dogen is brought to ‘the island’ to serve….because he is dead. This was a major hint in the story that everyone on ‘the island’ was dead, IMO.
The elimination of Samsara is the main goal of Buddhism. Samsara is literally translated as the Wheel of Suffering. Recall the video in Room #23. “We are the cause of our own suffering”. The term Samsara has been translated many ways that include endless suffering, cyclic existence, perpetual wandering, and transmigration. According to Buddhism there are six realms that one can go through in this cycle of Samsara. This is called the Six Paths.
This is why the show consisted of six seasons or cycles. This Buddhist theme was explored in the Matrix as the Architect told Neo he was the 6th version of the ‘one’ in the 6th Matrix. Many believe that when one goes through the process of rebirth that they are the exact same person when they are reborn. This however, is not true. They bear many similarities with their former selves but they are not the same person, which is why the characters have multiple chances in different lives to change their destiny and reshape their karma. This appears to some as jumping across dimensions in time.
Buddha taught that the only way for one to end their journey through Samsara was through enlightenment as each of the 8 remaining ‘candidates’ on ‘the island’ were there to learn. The number 8 also brings us to the Dharmachakra. In Jainism and Buddhism, it is the Wheel of Doctrine or Law. The Wheel of Dharma or The Wheel of Law is a symbol that represents ‘dharma’, the Buddha’s teaching of the path to enlightenment. The 8 spoked Wheel of Dharma or Buddhism represents the 8 main characters of Lost, Jack, Kate, Locke, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid, Sun and Jin. If the Wheel of Dharma is the pathway to enlightenment; then this is why the Dharma Initiative was on ‘the island’.
Each one of the symbols stands for one of the 8 characters. Jack’s symbol is the Caduceus the staff of Hermes and the iconic symbol of the medical profession. When Jack goes to his mother’s house to help locate his father’s will, the Caduceus is on the wall behind him. Jack works at St. Sebastian hospital. Saint Sebastian was a martyr who was tied to a tree and shot with arrows. According to the legend, the arrows did not kill him and Saint Sebastian received his 2nd life. The arrow is one of the symbols of the Dharma stations. St. Sebastian’s resurrection caused 78 people to be converted. There are two other obvious connections that Jack has to the Bible. His father’s name is Christian and the number next to his name in the cave and on the lighthouse wheel is the number 23. This is a reference to the 23rd of the Book of Psalms: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want…He restoreth my soul.” What could be more fitting for Jack the Doctor to restore the physical bodies of the sick and to be called to be the leader to restore the lost souls of those trapped on ‘the island’.
Jack meets a mysterious girl named Achara on his trip to Thailand. She gives Jack an unusual tattoo depicting a group of symbols. Achara later tells Jack the meaning of the tattoo, translates to “He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us.” This describes Jack’s future role of leader or Shepherd of the Lost on ‘the island’. Another reference that Lost is all about Buddhism is Buddha’s illusive wife’s name was also named Achara.
There are several things you will notice about the statue. Sayid commented, “it only has four toes.” 4 + 4 = 8 bringing us back to the 8 main cast members. The number 8 is also the symbol for infinity. The statue is the Egyptian goddess Taweret. She was the Egyptian goddess of childbirth; symbolizing the multiple lives of reincarnation and this is further reinforced by the two Ankh life symbols she holds in each hand.
The Dharma Wheel of Reincarnation…This wheel moves ‘the island’ and it rotates the light of the Lighthouse. Jack tells Hurley the reason he came back to ‘the island’ is to “fix what was broken,” meaning his life and soul. Herein is the reason each are on ‘the island’ and why each must break the cycle of bad karma to leave ‘the island’. If they break the cycle of bad actions, they die and are released from the cycle in the next life. Note what has happened to some of the people on ‘the island’.
-Eko comes to peace with his past, builds a church, and lives nobly. He dies.
– Boone has a vision and gets over Shannon. He dies.
– Shannon opens up her heart to Sayid and watches over Vincent, becoming unselfish. She dies.
– Roger Linus promises to celebrate Ben’s birthday next year, to spend quality time. He dies.
– Charlie overcomes his drug habit. He dies.
– Ana Lucia puts the gun down, unwilling to kill again. She dies.
– Michael takes responsibility for his actions. He dies.
– Faraday reconsiders his stance on fate and changing the past. He dies.
– Libby gets over the death of her husband and finds love again. She dies.
– Charlotte is finally home to stay, no more searching and digging. She dies.
– Nikki & Paulo overcome greed, he hid the diamonds to keep her. They die.
– Juliette puts Sawyer’s happiness before her own so Sawyer can be with Kate and she dies. She then sends a message through Miles saying, “It worked, I’m free.”
According to Buddhist teachings there are four things that are difficult for a soul to attain. Human birth, knowledge of the law, faith in the law, and practicing the right path. This is why women on the island could never have children. In other words, the soul does not give birth in Buddhism; instead, it is reborn.
The name Jin was taken from Jinas. In Jainism, Jinas are spiritually advanced human beings who rediscover the dharma, become fully liberated and teach the spiritual path to benefit all living beings. Like Buddhism, the purpose of Jain dharma (Jainism) is to undo the negative effects of karma through mental and physical purification. This process leads to liberation accompanied by a great natural inner peace. Those who rediscover dharma are called Tirthankara. The literal meaning of Tirthankar is ‘ford-builder’, aka James ‘Sawyer’ Ford. In Jainism it is a reference to the ‘Ford-builder.’ In Jainism, A Tirthankara is a shelter or ‘island’ from the ocean of rebirths.
The numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 add up to 108 and the computer in the Swan Station had to be tended to every 108 minutes and is a reference to the 108-bead string, or ‘mala’ that some Buddhist practitioners use during meditation. There was also 108 degrees or candidates on the wheel in the Lighthouse.
The 8-spoked Wheel of Dharma and the theme of the 8 is a motif that runs through the mythology of Lost as it did in The Matrix. The two have more in common than most realize. Jack’s tattoo reads… “He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us.” In The Matrix we have The One over the Eight. Neo (the one) over the 8, Morpheus, Trinity, Cypher, Tank, Dozer, Switch, Apoc and Mouse. In Lost, Jack (the Shepherd) over the 8, Kate, Locke, Sawyer, Hurley, Sun, Jin, Sayid and Claire.
In Egyptian mythology, Thoth (Hermes) is called the ‘Master of the City of Eight’. In the Tarot, the Magician (the Alchemist, Hermes) has the eight or infinity symbol over his head. The Matrix disguises Buddhism and Hinduism in a story about computer programs. Lost disguises Buddhism and Hinduism in a story about a mysterious Island. Lost is also a melding of the Matrix and the movie Castaway. From Wikipedia: “Media executive Lloyd Braun of ABC Studios first suggested the idea of a Cast Away type series at a dinner party in 2003. Thom Shermann later pitched the idea for Cast Away the series that was never developed. The basic concept was later developed and pitched with the title Nowhere, which later turned into the hit ABC show Lost.” And, the rest is television history…
The Tao…The Yin and the Yang Theme. The Architect (Yang) balances equations in the Matrix. The Oracle (Yin) unbalances equations in the Matrix. Jacob and Nemesis (in black and white) on Lost represented the Yin and Yang. In the Matrix, the Architect and the Oracle appeared to be playing a game with humans and Jacob and Nemesis appeared to be doing the same thing on ‘the island’. Also, Jacob’s ladder in the Bible is symbolically seen as the pathway to heaven. On ‘the island’, Jacob is aiding in the ascension process of attaining enlightenment through higher consciousness.
There are 6 Seasons of Lost, and six numbers… 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 and adds up to 108. 108 Ã· 6 = 18, which is 6 + 6+ 6. In the Matrix we have 6 versions of the Matrix according to the Architect, and Neo appears to be in a cycle of reincarnation. Neo asks Rama, “Do you believe in Karma?” In the Matrix, Rama Kandra is the power plant systems manager for recycling operations; a veiled reference for reincarnation. The power plant sustains the Matrix.
In Buddhism, the consciousness arising in the new person is neither identical to, nor different from, the old consciousness, but forms part of a causal continuum or stream with it. The basic cause for this persistent re-arising of personality is the abiding of consciousness in Avijja (ignorance) or Avidya; when ignorance is uprooted, rebirth ceases. Avidya has six aspects as associated with any of the six doors, the six senses. There is ‘The Oceanic’ 6 on Lost. The reoccurring lottery numbers in Lost are a set of six…4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42. In Lost, the numbers are not to obtain wealth but the wealth of knowledge through enlightenment.
In Lost, Ben’s van had the name Canton-Rainier on the side. It is an anagram for reincarnation. As a child, Locke was tested by Richard Alpert in a way similar to tests are done to find the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. Eko’s stick had multiple bible references written on it, including Colossians, which includes the text: “When you were dead in your sins… God made you alive with Christ.”(Colossians 2:13). After Locke and Eko remove stones to try to recover Yemi’s body, they find that Yemi’s body has disappeared, much like the story of Jesus’ disappearance from his tomb. Sayid dies by drowning in the spring in the Temple and comes back to life afterwards. Sawyer sarcastically remarks that because Sayid is an Iraqi torturer who shoots kids, he definitely deserves another go around, implying another life.
What is the Island? The first H.G. Wells book made into a feature film was The Island of Lost Souls. A crew becomes trapped on the Island as a result of the shipwreck of a freighter. The mysterious Freighter is a theme common in Lost as is the theme of time travel from one of Wells’ other book, The Time Machine. In Jainism, purgatory is called ‘Naraka’. A soul is born into a ‘Naraka’ as a direct result of his or her previous karma (actions of body, speech and mind), and resides there for a finite length of time until his karma has achieved its full result. The ‘island’ is a type of ‘Naraka’ where people go to correct their bad karma. In the Matrix, the Mobil Train Station symbolized this in Revolutions. Mobil is an anagram for Limbo and revolutions has reference to the turning of the Cosmic Wheel and not war.
The Transoceanic plane represents the ‘transmigration’ of the soul. The flight wasn’t doomed; the people on it were. We learned through Hurley’s conversation with Michael, that Michael and other members of the ‘whispers club’, were stuck in ‘limbo’ on ‘the island’ and unable to move on because of the bad deeds they had committed. The ‘alternate’ as described by Christian was a place where everyone was dead and that time held no meaning in when people actually died. We learned from Hurley and Desmond’s statements that some people eg: Ana-Lucia were not ready yet and Ms. Hawking was not especially wanting Desmond to take Daniel with them. Ben was not quite ready to leave either and make his ascension with the group, as were others who remained behind for whatever reason….their journey not yet complete, or they were simply just not ready to ‘let it go’.
And, this was Lost…..