July 9, 2021

A Buddhist Approach: How to Play the “Game of Life” without Losing Ourselves.


*Read part one, here.


In part one, which is essential to read before this, we left off talking about the importance of getting the “right guy,” if we wanted to commit suicide.

The “right guy” is a term that means the “right self” out of the many possible iterations or versions of ourselves.

The idea here is that if we can bump off the self that we really need to get rid of, we will, thereafter, be happy and free of anything that, otherwise, prevent us from being so.

As human beings, we are complex. On an individual level, we are all composed of many sources of identity. Depending on the context of our lives, we may identify with the “I” thought of being a son or daughter, a father or mother, a sailor, an athlete, or a student. Then, there’s also an infinite variety of mental states that we experience such as jealousy, depression, and anger, which may also be the subject of the “I” identification.

We see this every day whenever we say, “I am jealous,” or “I am angry,” or “I want a new job,” or “I hate him” or “she betrayed me,” or “I have been abused.” There’s almost an infinite number of negative mental states.

We all wish to be happy, but it is difficult for reasons that often seem out of our control. Sometimes, however, we lose our happiness for reasons perfectly within our control, often because of our tendency to take for granted what we have. And it slips through our fingers until we catch something else that turns out to be our worst nightmare.

Whether our misery is of our own making or inflicted upon us by another individual or life’s circumstances, if it gets us down to the point where all rational thinking ceases and we consider harming ourselves as an option, it is time to put the brakes on and turn things around.

If we are distraught, it may be because of another person’s making. But if we choose to stay distraught, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Our true, happy mind does not depend on its happiness on anything other than our own self. We create the beauty queen, the model, the lover, the actress, the rock climber, the student, and all other identities that make this world go round turns it into a varied, interesting playground for us to grow up in.

But sometimes, we don’t play so well, and other times, our playmates cheat. But we should still recognize it is a game. Sometimes, we forget that it’s a game and lose connection with ourselves—our true, fundamentally pure, and happy self—and become confused and believe that the part we are playing is real, forgetting who we really are. This is where we get ourselves into trouble.

It is not easy to walk away from a game when we are in the middle of it, even if we are losing. Las Vegas was built on losers. If we want to play in life’s playground, we should give of ourselves only as much as we are willing to lose. Just like the Las Vegas residents, we must be smart enough to take to the casino only what we can afford to lose—and not a penny more. Every Las Vegas resident knows this.

But unfortunately, because of innate greed, lust, and carelessness, we sometimes gamble more in the casino of life than we can afford to lose. Some who do this hit the jackpot, but the majority take heavy losses. But no matter how great our losses are, we should not forget that we are responsible for them, and so we can gather our cards and play the game a little wiser next time.

To be happy while playing the game of life isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about enjoying the game. If we are motivated by selfish interests, we are losers, whether we hit the jackpot or not. Many successful people demonstrate this.

Playing the game well is about playing it while being completely detached, which means having a firm foot going into it and not risking a misstep. But sometimes, we misstep, and when we do, it should not be a reason to make us fall off the cliff. Instead, we should acknowledge our mistake and stay on the sidelines long enough to venture into a new game with a stronger sense of who we are without seeking so much that it distracts us from the treasure that we are.

Play the game of life, but never forget who you are or that it is just a game.


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