Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Game

Have you ever watched a wildlife special or series? You watch a predator stalking its prey. You've seen variations on the theme since childhood probably - lion stalks zebra, lion eats zebra, repeat until death. You play a game on a computer - play, lose, repeat until you win the level, go up a level, play, lose, repeat until victory. How about worship services? One goes to a holy place, prays, sings hymns to God in fellowship with others, hopes prayers are answered or at least a favorable outcome will ensue...rinse, lather, repeat ... every special day designated by some priest way back when. A variation of the same thing happens when we go to school. All of life is a repetitive series of tasks. What's the difference though between an animal and a human being? The human being is attached to what he or she does usually and the animal isn't. So what's the difference between playing a game and work since both are repetitive tasks? There really isn't one. The game is played for a reward (enjoyment) and the job is done for a reward (money). Zen Buddhism recognizes that living is a series of repetitive tasks and that one's perception is the only difference:

Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. After enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water.

Can you personally make life or daily living a game, make it enjoyable for yourself? Can you be detached from the outcome of your life or your job? This seems to be part of the core wisdom of the sages down through the ages. The insane opposite of this playful detachment to existence is obsessive compulsion. Which is easier? Which is freer? Which is saner?

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I now suspect that that quote is meant to convey that life continues much the same after enlightenment as it did before. It's all different, but it's all the same.
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