author’s note: the meaning of games
Posted by jeanne
really the meaning of life. i woke this morning all worried about what makes a good life. what makes a good video game? are they the same, or diametrically opposed?
here’s a typical life that most people would consider good: nothing upsetting, nothing conflicting, just work that’s not too hard and not too demanding, peaceful relationships, steady economic progress, and a rich old age, dying in your sleep. no discomfort, no questioning, no doubts, no big disruptive changes.
as a video game, it would suck.
a video game is full of conflict and struggle, how many others you kill and how much loot you have when you die is more important than self mastery.
that’s a fair description of the game we’re supposed to honor in real life – blood and guts survival, ending up with all the loot and power, monetary success for you and yours, and grinding your enemies into the dirt.
but we’re finding that the real life of ‘conquers all’ is not a good life. it’s a life full of pain and anguish, and if you’re not feeling the pain, then you’re causing it. it’s a life where things are split into two categories, divided to conquer. your side is automatically the right one, your enemies are endless and easily identified, and violence is rewarded with spoils.
but maybe we’re counting the wrong things.
if your life goal is growth or wisdom, rather than a rich old age, then you get a different path to follow. there is conflict, there is struggle, there is a lot of defeat and mistaken action and wrongheadedness, pain and anguish and doubt, difficult and unpleasant answers.
what kind of video game would the dalai lama want to play? okay, i looked it up. he doesn’t play them, but the 24 year old karmapa lama does, and finds it’s a good way to work off negativity. not an answer i can use, really.
let me ask in a different way. if you look at life from an individual point of view, then it looks very different than a consideration of the entire mass of humanity. as a species we act very differently than we do as individuals. we get very hive-like in the aggregate, where the troubles of individuals don’t amount to a hill of beans. which is more important, the hive or the ant? and it depends on which level you’re playing at. if you’re playing the ant, oops; if you’re playing the hive, good. better him than us.
that’s still not it. the goal of this story is to get people focused on a different way to live. a different way to think, different principles to organize your life around. quantum reality that looks and works just like magic, and that lets you out of the horrible zero-sum game of classical thought that has led to so much torment and heartache.
the stated purpose of many people’s lives is to have an easy life. an orderly life, a predictable life, a life where things go according to plan, goals get achieved, and your basic situation is a pleasant reminder that life is good. this isn’t usually what happens, of course, and i’m not really focused on leading a life according to anybody else’s rules or their definition of good. my life has been a series of distractions from stated goals, a series of wanderings, curious investigations down unfamiliar paths, poking into places others warned me against. now that i’m old, i know why they warned me against these things. but i would have done it anyway, because i saw fear in their eyes at the time, and i hate the way fear makes you behave.
not that i’m not full of fear myself. there are times when i can’t write because i’m afraid i’ll be punished for what i say. but i always find a way around the fear, because if i stop, then i fail, and if i continue to stay stopped, then i drag others down too. the pressure always makes me speak up; i believe in what i think and say, and i believe others need to hear it, so i go ahead and say things that get me in trouble. because i’ve always seen that there’s another way, and when people get either/or about things it just drives me nuts. there’s never one alternative, there’s never only one answer. we live in a quantum world, and there are infinite right answers.
which is giving me a lot of trouble today. because at every level i can make a distinction on, the right answer is dramatically different than on all the other levels. and there’s no right place from which to make a determination. and on the highest level it doesn’t matter at all.