Monday, March 14, 2005

An Outline of the Game of Life

What follows is a greatly simplified model of the purpose of life, as set out in far greater detail, and often with considerable obscurity, in various spiritual teachings from past ages. The Snakes and Ladders metaphor used here is a practical explanation, and is not deeply grounded in research and science (although some such forms of evidence do exist).

The advantage of this simplified model is that it brings the nature of the game of life to the fore and skirts past all potentially diverting considerations of the details of its underpinnings. It is the latter area that usually bogs down in debates between those people who choose to believe in the existence of a divine judgement mechanism and those who want to see it proven beyond doubt - which is something that we might never be able to do while we are in our human form.

Even young children understand the principles of the game of Snakes and Ladders. A player moves a counter over a board according to the throws of a dice, and the aim is to travel from the 'start', at the bottom of the playing area, to the 'finish' at the top. Throws of the dice which land a player's counter on the foot of a ladder advance it to the top; throws that land on the head of a snake send the counter back down to the end of the tail.

The board-game of life can be likened to snakes and ladders, but with 'free will' operating each time the counter lands on the foot of a ladder or the head of a snake. In life we have the freedom to choose whether we will travel up a ladder or down a snake.

Usually, deciding to climb a ladder has some 'cost' attached; we have to give up something in order to rise up the board by way of a ladder. Conversely, going down a snake can bring us some form of gain, we might choose to cheat someone, or we might even decide to kill them in order to gain an advantage or to keep a secret hidden from the world.

Because we have the 'gift' of free will and are not constrained by fate in the same way that the player of a normal Snakes and Ladders game is, we can choose whether to give and do good - climb a ladder - or to take and do harm - slither down a snake.

Thus, we can strive to reach the 'finish' or we can decide to ignore that goal (often because we have no faith that there actually is a 'finish' or reward for helping others at our own expense) and deliberately cause havoc for our personal gain or satisfaction.

The people who travel down snakes of their own free will are not usually convinced that there is any divine 'score keeping' involved in the game of life. They reason that if they can escape detection or hire a skilled lawyer who is able to get them off any charges of wrongdoing they have somehow 'won'.

Only those of us who recognise the existence of a divine design and plan behind the game of life are concerned to climb ladders and reach the top of the board of life.

A perfect life is beyond most of us, we inevitably go down a few snakes from time to time. But we can all strive to finish as high on the board of life as we possibly can. In this regard it is never too late to switch from choosing snakes to choosing ladders.

The Rule of Law and its attendant judicial punishment processes universally fail to recognise this fact. Wrongdoers are either confined in prisons under conditions that make it difficult to just survive, let alone find ladders to climb, or in the case of capital crimes they are increasingly likely to be executed.

The 'justice' system ends the game and they are denied any opportunity to regret their crimes and seek to reform their lives. Paradoxically, the agents of judicial punishment who prevent wrongdoers from resuming the normal game of life are completely unaware that they themselves travel down a snake each time they take such 'legal' actions. Ultimately, they can finish lower in the game than those they judge and punish.

Teachings from the ancients and present-day shamans suggest that the board-game of life is played many times, just as snakes and ladders is played repeatedly. However, people brought up on mainstream religions that emphasise one life and either heaven or hell to follow have lost this understanding. Most of them have also given up the notion of a judgement day and consider that the end of their life is the final end - nothing exists for them beyond death.

Of course, these ideas are contrary to the teachings of the various religions, but those institutions have been progressively marginalised by the secular power of nation states and federations. All present-day religions have also been overshadowed by the materialistic cultures spawned by commerce and capitalism.

Is it too much to attribute the decline of spirituality to the growth of central governments and economies based on taker philosophies? Not at all. The Renaissance in Europe began the process of sidelining spiritualism five centuries ago.

The Reformation broke the temporal power of the Roman Church and also split its religious following. At the same time the flow-on effects of Johannes Gutenberg's mass printing technology transformed Europe into a thriving hub of commerce and conspicuous consumption. These changes laid the foundations for the present Level 3 Civilization, with its focus on the material world and the acquisition of material possessions.

History tends to happen in cycles. The second wave of communication technology is now having the same effect that mass printing did during the Renaissance; it is connecting information and thoughts in ways that are exposing and undermining the power of nation states and federations. At the same time there is a resurgence of interest in meaning, particularly amongst young people and the elderly.

Those in their middle-life stages would also be concerned with meaning, but they are so enmeshed in their repayments - mortgages, credit cards, etc - and a daily struggle to advance within a system of relentless economic scarcity, that they have little time to think about such esoteric matters as the meaning of life. Even women, who used to stay at home and raise their children on a full-time basis, are now forced to work to make ends meet. Only the very young and the very old presently have the luxury of time to wonder and search for meaning.

But the situation will change as it becomes apparent that there are new alternatives to economic scarcity and predatory globalism. Soon, everybody will be seeking new meaning and new opportunities to climb as many ladders in the game of life as they possibly can. Once this happens a Level 4 Civilization will be assured.

2nd Renaissance -40 An Outline of the Game of Life [277]

By Lothar posted 14 March 05


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