We are like players of a video game - we get so involved in the game that we forget that we are playing a game. We forget our true nature.
At first you are just playing the game. You 'get into' playing it so much you forget that there is something other than the game. You identify with one of the players and you think, feel and experience the game from the limited point of view of one of your game characters. At least momentarily, you forget who you are and think you actually are the character in the game. Have you ever tried to talk to children watching a favourite television programme? They are so involved they can't even hear you. Likewise, the human video players are so involved in their game that they do not even know who they really are.
We create the thoughts and feelings in our identities
In a video game, none of the characters or identities have any thoughts or feelings or intentions, because none of them is real. Yet when we identify with them, we create thoughts, feelings, intentions and experiences which we project into them. If one is hurt, then we flinch and feel the pain. But they are merely light forms, and have no real existence, let alone the ability to feel pain or any other emotion. Suppose a number of us were playing a video game. We all take sides and control our characters in the game. We get so involved that we forget our true identities and what we are doing and become our identity in the game. We experience only what our identity in the game might experience from that identity's point of view and according to the game's rules and programming. To all intents and purposes, we are that character.
Having done this many times we lose track
We could do this so many times that we lose track of who is playing the game and who is part of the game. There are also many games: even games within games. Imagine you are stuck in a game and want to get out. You would have to find out who you really are. Which video game player are you really? For an immortal spirit playing such games over a vast period of time, the number of possibilities is vastly greater than any number imaginable! If every time we made a choice there were 10 options and we made the choice six times, the number of choices to work through to get back would be a million. If we did it 20 times, the choices would be one in 100,000,000,000,000,000,000. We would have had more than 10 choices each time and we would have done this more than 20 times. The number of choices to pick the right route home very quickly becomes unimaginably huge! Even an infinite being would soon get stuck.
If I win, I lose, If I lose, I lose!
Let's get back to the simple analogy. If we got so involved in our game that we forgot who we were, then we would experience great shock when our identity in the game died. It would be as if we had ourselves died. We would feel miserable not playing the game and want to get back into the trap as a new identity in the game, or the old one reanimated. The game would, of course, continue for the other players. We might want to try another identity in the game and see how we fare in that role. If we failed in one role, we might want to try to play the previous winning role, and take on the identity of the victor. If we lost, got killed in this role, we might try another and keep trying till we win. We might never win. We might still be on Earth playing our roles!
If we won straight away, the game wouldn't be much fun. Especially if we won many times, it would no longer be a challenge. We might want to sabotage ourselves in some way to make the odds more favourable. Again we could never truly win because we are not being true to our goals. If we win, we have not done our best. We have not been sincere to our goals. And if we lose, then we lose doubly, because we have lowered our ability by sabotaging our own efforts to make it more fair, but as a result we lose. Games can become sick.
Whether we win or lose, we will never be true to our purposes
Even if we won in this new role, we might not feel quite happy because we have given up the goals and intentions of the previous identity in the game, or more likely, an infinity of previous characters. Our new roles might be totally opposed to the previous ones. Whereas, for example, we tried to win with strength, and failed, we try to win with brains this time. Whether we win or lose in this new role, we will have either won with brains and defeated our former goal to win with force, or lost, therefore failing in our new goal to win with brains. A confusion and complication. We might try to resolve this by taking some identity in the game who could attain all our goals, but this is ultimately impossible because many goals and intentions are conflicting. There isn't really a win-win situation.
Degradation of the being
As the game progresses (or degenerates more and more) we find we are playing compulsively and without choice. We cling to our identity in the game as something precious because we have lost so many over the aeons. We choose an identity with a lowered goal that safely avoids the conflict between our truer, higher goals. We must win this time - although we never can. We play mindlessly, and even try to escape by pretending we are not our current identity. This simply means that we are nothing. We ease the pain by lowering our awareness and by keeping our heads down. We no longer have a clear idea what our current identity is - let alone have an awareness we are playing a game. We become less aware of and less willing to create:
Our present game on Earth
Disease, war, death, suffering are some of the reasons we might want out of this game. It has become too degraded. As spiritual creatures we have lost our identity and forgotten we are players. It has become a lot less fun. Some games have even threatened the whole game on Earth. Something needs to be done. The real reason is our history of game playing and what it has done to us spiritually. This, however, is too hard to understand or seems too abstract to relate to our immediate life problems and struggles, so normally we never address these issues except vaguely as teenagers, in a 'mid-life crisis' or on our death bed.
Changing the game
Having decided to play a video game, we have also agreed to certain rules. If we are playing a war game, we have agreed to use certain weapons. We cannot change these aspects of the game. We can imagine that the characters in the game have feelings, thoughts and intentions. We can play our characters according to the rules of the game. We cannot change the basic rules of the game. And if we quit playing, the other players will continue. We can only change the rules of the game by adopting the identity of the player - going into the real world - and reprogramming the game.
However, we may be able to change the level of difficulty and the abilities of the players. We might be able to reprogram the game while people are playing it, but if we make too many changes, we will realize that something funny is happening and may stop playing, or change it back. We might be able to find cheats, which enable us to do very fundamental things and gain an advantage. Sometimes you can type in a code or magic spell and produce fairly big changes in the game. However, the fundamental nature of the game is not changeable except from the real world.
In our game of life, we cannot change some things without recovering our true identity as a player or gamesmaker in the exterior world above, the spiritual world, and realigning our game on earth from that viewpoint. We may, however, discover cheats - seemingly magical acts which make very surprising changes in the game. These tend to break the game rules and spoil things for others and in any case do not address the basic issue of being lost in a game. The best approach is to become more aware of and more willing to create or choose:
The road home
How do you rescue a video game player who has been lost in the game? One who has been playing for so long that they are not even concentrating on the game, but escaping from both the game and life in some other dreams, which playing the game enables. They are playing one game and dreaming they are playing another! Have you ever sat in front of the television set and been miles away both from what you appear to be watching and from the real world? Imagine a child playing a video game. Parents might shout at them. This doesn't work. They might not even hear. Parents might tell them the game is silly, they are wasting their time and damaging their minds and health. All to no avail. Parents might switch the game off and confiscate the equipment. The player then might play elsewhere or be so miserable, the parents would have to give in and allow them to play again. There seems no solution.
However, there is a solution. We could get involved in the game with them. We would get them to attend to it more. We could comment on the characters, the excitement, and the game plan. We could get more involved in the game and make it real again. By rehabilitating the ability to feel and experience the game we could get the player to become aware of the other side. Of their intentions and plans and feelings. We could encourage them to play other games but this time consciously. We could encourage them to choose different characters in this and other games. We could encourage an awareness of playing game. This would have been impossible before we made the game real. We could then gradually make the game player more and more aware that they are playing a game. We could gradually pull them out of the video game, and video games in general, and out into the real world. There is the danger, though, that the parents might get so involved in the game that they themselves get lost in it!
The real world
We can, then, get a video game player to become more aware of what their real goals and aims are in playing this video game in the real world. They would become more aware of their present existence in the world as we know it. As they become more aware of their current identity, they are no longer lost in the video game. They are still lost in the real world, however.
We, too, are lost in our present existence. This is one step up from being lost in the video game. We forget our purposes. We forget that we are players. We even play this game in the real world whilst dreaming of something else. We are playing it without awareness.
To escape from the unknowingness of this game in the real world, we repeat the process. We begin to feel and experience from the viewpoint of that identity we are playing now in the real world, so that identity in the game becomes more real to us. We clarify our goals and intentions and what game we are playing, here and now in the real world. We can then become aware that in our current life we are playing a game and that we have assumed an identity. We are no longer mindless sleep walkers in the world now. We can then begin to give up the attachment to our current identity. We can gradually become aware we are spiritual beings in a physical bodies in a physical universe of our creation, or of our choosing. We realize that this life, too, is like playing a video game. We can become aware of our identity as spiritual beings with goals and intentions, different from those of our present identity. We become aware of the things we are doing in this world. We can be aware of the sub-games that are being played within the main game in the physical universe. That would bring us just one step above our present existence! We realize that this step of understanding ourselves as spiritual creatures, too, is another game!
In summary, this is the route home:
We become aware we are playing a game and now know its:
We become aware of our ability to willingly create and choose games, identities, etc. We repeat the process up through the levels of game we are playing until we arrive home. Not that we have to give up any of the games but rather to no longer be attached to them in an unknowing trap. Exploring the games of life is a game too. It is fun! The above are it's objectives. The final game to transcend is probably this new game. We will then have learned to play games for fun and be able to do so freely and willingly.
In a way, the method has been given above. However, normally we require more help. The Insight Project is a tried and tested method for assisting an individual to achieve these aims.
Ken Ward is co-author of New Life Course and a student of The Insight Project. Visit his Freeing The Mind site for many more of his thought-provoking texts and introduction to effective personal enhancement.