Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Game of Life

I have played athletic games and have coached some of them for seventeen  years.  In fact, at age 62 I still play handball at a competitive level.  The games in which I have participated have and continued to help shape my life.  It isn't surprising that these deeply, ingrained, athletic experiences make up a vital part of the foundation of my present life.  It follows also, that when I reflect on my life specifically, and life in general, I fine corresponding qualities of athletic contests and the expression of life, coinciding.  For instance, all athletic games basically limit the field of play, set rules and conduct to be followed, set time limits for the contest, and over all, the format of human life seems closely to correspond to those above conditions of athletic play.

I believed for a long time that this athletic game analogy with life was an unique perspective.  The only game analogy reference I had ever come across was when my athletic coaches pointed out  correspondences between the operations of life and the operations of athletic contests, but such reference was usually concerned with attaining specific goals within the game.  The uniqueness of this perspective, however dissolved when I came across a Sanskrit word, "lida" during my studies. In the Hindu Puranes, the creator of the our world, it says, created several primordial worlds which perished as soon as they came into existence.  This trail and error creation process, is shown as a sport, an amusement for the creative gods.  Its seems that the idea of sport, according to the ancient sages of India, appears at the genesis of our home world.

Proceeding from the above perspective, sports, contests, games, appear to be an integral part of our human make up.  However, there seems, upon reflection of that idea, to be an astonishing disconnect between the rules and regulations of a sport contest, and the rules and regulations of life.  In a sport contest all the rules and regulations are known and understood by the participants, in the game of life however, most of us are either completely unconscious of the rules and regulations or irony of ironies, live our lives under a false assessment of the rules and regulations of life.

How is it possible that we, self-conscious beings, are unaware of the rules and regulations governing our lives?  The honest answer is, our ignorance, our lack of knowledge, our lack of motivation to find truth, which prevents us from knowing the rules and regulations of life.  This fact has been known and expressed by all the masters and sages of antiquity to the present. For instance, in the Dhammapada, (Gautama the Buddha's record of his teaching), Canto 243: ..."But there is an impurity greater than all impurities it is ignorance."  In Dickens, A Christmas Carol, this fact is dramatically expressed; the Spirit of Christmas Present, unfolds his robe displaying two wretched, frightful children, a boy and girl.  They knelt down at his feet, and clung upon the outside of his garment.  The Spirit exclaims, ..."O Man! look here!  Look, look down here."  Scrooge asks, "Spirit! Are they yours?"  The Spirit replies, "They are Man's, and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.  This boy is ignorance.  This girl is Want.  Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.  Deny it, slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse!  And bide the end!"  In yet another reference, from the great Hindu epic, The Mahabharata, an episode called Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna speaks to Arjuna, ..."The truth is obscured by that which is not true, and therefore all creatures are lead astray."

We stand upon the rock of our beliefs as if they were footings of the ultimate truth, and with righteous indignation we act on those beliefs: some commit suicide and simultaneously mass murder believing their act will bring them heavenly reward, some believe wealth is the route to happiness, and pursue that path with blind disregard to the negative impact to others, some believe the end of the world is near at hand and think nothing of pillaging the natural resources of the world, some believe the earth is flat, some believe the Jewish Holocaust was a fabrication, some believe Hitler had it right, etc., etc. We rest confidently on our rock of beliefs, even though they are mainly built on the authority and expertise of others.  When our beliefs are meet with oppositional argument, even if the argument   rings of truth, we retaliate with, denial, anger, and indignation.  St. Paul, recognizing the rigidity of our beliefs and suggests, ..."prove all things and hold to that which is good."  The implication is that we should prove all tenets, whither they are gained from scripture, logical arguments, philosophical reasoning, agreement with a preconceived idea or comes from a teacher.  All tenets should not be blindly accepted and thus unproven become attached to our rock of belief.  They should be tested and proved by filtering them through our own spiritual center of authority-our Buddha within, our Christ within, our Krishna within.  The Buddha reiterates St. Paul's idea, "Be lamps unto yourselves.  Betake yourselves to no external refuge.  Hold fast to truth as a lamp.  Hold fast as a refuge to the Truth.  Look not for refuge to anyone beside yourselves."  Also in this same respect, there is a rather harsh Zen Buddhist saying, 'If you see a Buddha on the side of the road, kill the Buddha.'  Its meaning is, don't become attached to the personality of the Buddha, and begin to worship him, but attach to the truth he speaks.  Thus you become a follower of truth, rather than a follower of a personal figure.