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 ÷ 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…..

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~ Contrary to popular misconception, karma has nothing to do with punishment and reward. It exists as part of our holographic universe’s binary or dualistic operating system only to teach us responsibility for our creations—and all things we experience are our creations. ~

24 thoughts on “A ‘Lost’ Perspective

  1. Great wall of text, dabs! You have without a doubt connected the story and happenings of Lost to facts, great work.

    One thing I will say, though, is that your comment about the island being purgatory is denied by Christians statement in the last episode. He clearly states that everything that happened on the Island was real, and even that some of the people in the church died after him (Lapidus, Alpert, Kate, Sawyer, Miles and Claire, as they flew off of the island). Clearly, they were brought there as their karma was waaaay off, and they certainly were people without meaning in their lives – but they were brought there by Jacob to replace him by proving their ability to redeem and fill their lives with purpose.

    Not trying to pick a fight here, just pointing out a certain thing which was specifically answered and statet in the series. 🙂

  2. Hi schackt, you are correct about what Christian said about ‘the island’ and what happened on it was real. My apologies for not making this more clear in the body.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Even though I’m flabbergasted, this was a great read. Thanks for posting this, Dabs.

    Too bad everyone’s not Buddhist huh? Even if I was, it’s not like I’d ever pick up on any of these hidden messages/clues. I can’t believe what I just read. Sacrificing entertainment to show us extremely well hidden lessons in a religion I’ll never become a part of, or care about. That’s just fantastic.

  4. LOL Chief, now you know why I stated that they disguised the themes and concepts a little too well.

    Personally, I would have liked them to make it more clear to me. They didn’t…..damn them!

    Thanks for your comment.

  5. I contend the Sayid and Shannon soulmate thing was a tad contrived. Not to say I don’t believe in love at first sight, or that kind of thing… just that they really had about two dates, and I never got the impression they were in love. Maybe falling in love, but not there yet. He knew Nadia and loved Nadia his whole life. Compared to a couple of traumatic island romps with the self-centered blonde girl, Shannon seems like a summer camp romance. Plus, I saw Shannon as a pretty shallow character. She’d have used or played Sayid eventually. Maybe not a fair assessment, but she didn’t show me much as an overall “good” person.

    Again, that was just the writers thinking they were outclevering us. I happen to disagree completely withe that thinking.

    Now as for the minutia – aka the mysteries (Hurley Bird, Walt, pregnancies etc.) Hey, don’t feel shamed into thinking those things weren’t important to this show. They damned well were. I loved this show for the characters, but I loved “All in the Family” for the characters. Seriously, that show was very well-written, especially for it’s time. Archie started as a one dimensional racist, but as the show progressed we saw how his views were developed, and even how they changed over the years. His relationship with his son-in-law was complex. He didn’t feel Mike was ever good enough for his daughter, but he ultimately loved and respected, and even was jealous of the more liberal-minded Mike Stivic.

    Ok, a little off tangent, but an important statement because while I loved the characters on this show, I’ve loved characters on other shows before. I also loved the mysteries. The anagrams, the pop culture references, the nods to literature, and of course the religious/spiritual overtones.

    Point is, I wanted more answers, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I knew from the beginning of this season we weren’t going to get them all, because Darlton braced us, so I withdrew expectations on that front, but I still wanted them.

    The Walt character WAS a central theme over the first two seasons. I still feel that was dropped. How/why did Walt appear to John when he was in that pit? Was that Jacob? Was that Walt ?(since he was special – apparently)

    We didn’t need answers to everything, but more would have been nice. It is a bit of a cop out to give us a Hurley bird and not pay it off… that one isn’t keeping me awake, but as a writer, I know they had a reason for it. They had to. Otherwise why not just make the trees throw apples at Sawyer when he gets too close, and not explain ever address that?

    I loved the mysteries, LOVED the fact that “”Hoffs Drawler” Funeral Home was an anagram for “Flashforward” That stuff made me watch more intently. I was looking for the numbers everywhere. Wearing out the freeze frame button on the Tivo… I loved the minutia and I’m proud of it. I did want to know how that village was destroyed. Did Mother do that all by herself, and if so – how? Seems like a reasonable request, otherwise why not turn the ocean into chocolate and never explain it. Some things can’t be laid out and never addressed.

    Plenty of shows before had unforgettable characters. This was different BECAUSE of the minutia. To ignore it the “minutia” is a bit arrogant.

    Now all that said, I loved the finale. Have no problem with the SLU/Dream World being a holding station. Makes sense given the rules of the show. But given the rules of writing, we are entitled to more answers than were provided.

    I loved all 6 seasons, and the lack of answers doesn’t change that. 75% of why I loved this show was the characters, but 25% was the mystery. I loved 100% of the 75%, but would have been happier if they addressed a higher percentage of the 25%.

    LOST rules.

    I hope that’s clear. 😉

  6. Hi Joe, I agree with what you loved about the show and also agree with what you disliked about it and not getting the answers to certain questions. It appears they didn’t connect with the viewers wants, needs and desires on that front. I suppose that is a bit arrogant on their behalf.

    I would have been happy if they made some of the main themes more clear and the season had been easier to figure out overall. Connecting some of the dots this season was difficult, so the criticism is fair, IMO.

    Thanks for your comment.

  7. The philosophical references are certainly there in Lost. I’m not to sure about all the details of the numerology, though. Give me a bunch of numbers and I’ll show how special they are, haha. But it was a nice read!

  8. By the way, I don’t think that Christian ever said that the Island was real. He said something along the lines that the Losties were the most important people in Jack’s life. I guess it is possible that Jack had a life before the Island episode, a life where he knew the Losties. If he didn’t recognize them in FSW, why would he recognize them on the Island?

  9. oh WOW, this is way better than my theory but right on the same line, my last sentence discusses the research that I did for my theory and it kept heading to buddhism. Since it is my first post, i hope it will be up soon. But i agree with you whole heartedly and your post has inspried me to do even more research. Thank you for the inspiration and that my post is not just crazy ramblings of a LOSTIE gone bad!

  10. ilie, the numerical reference is not to numerology, it is to Buddhism. The numbers have worn a little thin, haven’t they?

    I have to re-watch the episode, but I seem to recall Christian saying that what happened on ‘the island’ was real, or something to that effect. You are correct about the ‘losties’ being the most important people in Jack’s life. That I do recall him saying.

    Thanks for your comment.

  11. What I meant with the numerology was that pointing out e.g. that 4+4=8 seemed a little far-fetched and that the lists of 8 people seemed a little too convenient. For example, Claire was included in one list but not the other, while Charlie and Desmond were not included in any of the lists. What I’m saying is that the fact that something adds up to 8 doesn’t work as an argument that Buddhism is involved in the matter since it is way too easy to arrive at the number 8 if the will is there. The same is true for almost any other number, hence my usage of the word numerology. No offence! 🙂

    Christian didn’t mention the Island in The End. When Jack asked if Christian was real, the answer was that Christan was real, Jack was real, everything that ever happened to Jack was real and all the people in the church was real. I guess we still have no clue whether people were dead or alive on the Island.

  12. Hi ilie, I wasn’t sure if that’s what you meant, but thought it was what you were referring to. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t buy it. This is what seems to make the most sense to me.

    Thanks for clarifying Christian’s statements. I guess the writers left how and when they died open to some interpretation.

  13. Okay Dabs. It is a beautiful theory. It fits and ties a lot of the nagging loose ends together.

    I’ll buy it hook line and sinker if we get official confirmation from Damon Lindeloff or Carlton Cuse, otherwise it is just another empty fan theory.

    So how about it… would you care to drop your mask and tell us which of them you are?

    From a marketing perspective it was very clever on their-your part to register on several Lost theory sites under assumed names and bullshit for three years with the rest of us paupers and have us on, and then REVEAL your true identity two or three days after the finale by posting the real story of Lost.

  14. Dabs, this is phenomenal. Your posts have never disappointed and this is your best work IMO. An astounding amount of research and thought. I’ve always been amazed how well you tie in the philosophical and metephysical aspects of the show.

    Thank you for a fantastic post

  15. I think your buying into the buddism/karma/reincarnation too much Dabs. Don’t get me wrong this is a great post, we researched and well written. But it’s like a deity in a certain sense. We can choose to believe in it or not to belive in it. My take on the show is that if it had been only two or three seasons long then we would all have been happy with this ending. However when ABC studio execs saw the audience figures for season one and realized the amount of advertising revenue they could make then the forced Darlton to extend the series. This diluted the shows impact by forcing them to keep it fresh, hold off on mythology resolutions and try to keep the mysterious island vibe. In the end it couldn’t sustain itself and nearly collased under the weight of expectation.

  16. Achalli, I don’t want to be annoying, nitpicking or whatever…but this entire post comes from another website. Dabs stated that she cannot take credit for the information.

    Anyway, thanks for posting it here. Great read and

  17. Thanks for all of your comments, thoughts and input.

    JackieO, thanks for your comment and I look forward to your post on Buddhism.

    Andre7 you are wrong. I am not a writer for Lost….just an avid fan like everyone else on this site.

    Achalli, I have always taken the ‘spiritual’ approach to Lost from the beginning of the show and placed my feelings regarding it in my posts, whenever possible.

    daddyx, I am not the individual who placed emphasis on Buddhism, etc. I believe the writers did that, when they introduced a show that we find out pertains to life after death. That was planned from the inception of the show.

    stone, I never stated that this information comes from another website. I stated that I cannot take credit for its content. I’m glad it made you appreciate the finale a bit more. That was exactly my intent for posting it.

    Thanks again for you interest and reading a lengthy post.

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