Irrespective of our political views the world we are all embroiled in, we live this game of life, which is incredibly personal for each individual. Sometimes things are so horrific it cannot be seen as a game. If we allow the sands of time to pass we can also see that we get carried away with our role in life and that is, in essence, what life is all about.
Approaching the danger and exhilaration as often present in life, I thought of some words of ancient wisdom such as at what belief systems such as Hinduism and Buddism have to say about this, with their concept of time stretching far back and far forwards. The central theme here is philosophy and psychology – not religion – although belief in a force or central power is a part of the philosophy in question.
Alan Watts gave a talk on an introduction to Hinduism which describes the universe as a ‘cosmic play’, based upon the philosophy of the Upanishads.
“So it is said that the supreme self gets absorbed through ever so many different channels (which we call all the different beings) in the plot, just like an artist or a writer gets completely absorbed in the artistic creation that he’s doing; or an actor gets absorbed in the part, in the drama.
He’s gonna have you sitting on the end of your chair, he’s gonna have you crying, he’s gonna have you trembling because he almost persuades you that it’s real.
What would happen if the very best actor was confronted by the very best audience? Why they’d be taken in completely. And the one would confirm the other, so this is the idea of the universe as Brahma. That the fundamental self plays this game, gets involved in being all of us and does it so damn well, that it’s so superbly acted, that it appears to be real. That we’re not only sitting on the edge of our chair, but that we start to get up and throw things. We join in the drama and it all becomes whatever it is that’s gong on.
Then of course at the end of the drama (because all things have to have an end, that have a beginning) the curtain goes down and the actors retire to the green room. And there, the villain and the hero cease to be villain and hero and they’re just the actor. Then they come out from the curtain and they stand in a row and the audience applauds the villain along with the hero. The villain for having been a good villain, The hero for having been a great hero. Their play is over and everyone breathes a sigh of relief”
This goes some way to explaining our complete involvement.
We can see that as we become more compelled to fight for one side or another – or to mock others or to be knowingly immoral – we are becoming part of this wider story. Is it still okay to play these parts then if this is just a game?
Then of course the realisation of past mistakes made and our experiences of danger become a deterrent for playing the game without abiding by the rules. Because every game has rules. And you can’t cheat this game.
So the truth is the battle to fight the good/bad is an eternal play It wasn’t intended to mean the spirit is ‘playful’ when the killing of thousands of innocent people is in question. ‘Play’ is a metaphor for the act of participation, one way or another.
Watts meant this to mean the total, passionless truth yet personalised and as involved and connected as one could possibly feel. I admire Alan Watts’ philosophy greatly. He echoes the sound of another time, more assured and relaxed than our own. To take these talks out of context is to misinterpret the meanings.
Alan Watts – The Game of Yes and No
This is the place where universal truth and worldly truth meet in undeniable fashion – Watts had a gift for describing it in remarkable detail.