Life Is A Game
This will be an intensely personal entry. It has very little to do with Scientology per se, but it’s deeply influenced by the fact that I am a Scientologist. It may serve to illustrate how a knowledge of Scientology can help to answer some of the more important questions of life.
The Stages of Life
In the first part of your life, you’re mostly concerned with your immediate environment. You’ve got a lot of life ahead of you, and you are, of course, virtually indestructible. Life is throwing random events at you and you’re there behind the batter’s box, just waiting for the next pitch.
As you get older, your viewpoint gradually shifts. You start to get things squared away so that the randomness of life isn’t so random any more. Things settle down. You’re cruising the freeway with the air conditioning on and tunes on the radio.
As you get to an age where you’re a lot closer to the end of this life than the beginning, your viewpoint shifts again. You’ve eliminated a lot of the “uncomfortable” randomity of life, and you start wondering about the future. You’re on the beach, watching the sun go down, eyeing the clouds on the horizon and wondering when exactly the rain will start.
The Genesis of the Search
I wasn’t always the smartest guy in the room, but I’ve always been an incisive, circumspect thinker. I’ve always wondered about “stuff”. It was never enough for me to know that something was a certain way. I wanted to know how it got that way and why. Thinking that way led me to study science, philosophy, psychology, and ultimately Scientology. Many in the Independent Field have approached this evolution of inquiry in reverse: Scientology, then science, philosophy, psychology, etc. I understand their impulse. But having been there in the reverse order, I can confidently tell them what they’ll find as they search– the answers they seek are there, but at the beginning of their search, not the end.
A while back, three things occurred to me. First, I didn’t have all that many years before I was due to “start over”, if you know what I mean. (Believe me, twenty years doesn’t seem like that long when you’ve got fifty years behind you.) Second, it was clear I couldn’t take anything with me. (Everything? Including my music collection? Seriously?) And third, no matter what I had done or accomplished, I wouldn’t be able to take credit for it, at least not publicly. (No really, I was the first guy to set foot on Mars!)
So of course, I started to seriously wonder what the point of life was.
What Is The Meaning of Life?
The answer to that question is contained in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. It’s 42. (Oh crap! I spoiled it for you, didn’t I?)
The absurdity of the answer echoes the absurdity of the question. Think about it. The universe itself can’t assign meaning to anything. Only life itself can assign meaning. And life in general by no means would agree on any one meaning for life. Want proof? Look up the different schools of philosophy. You’ll quickly find that about the only thing they agree on is that there’s probably a subject called philosophy. And some of them aren’t even sure about that.
Any meaning assigned to life is whatever meaning you yourself assign to it. And I can guarantee you that the next ten people you consult will disagree with you.
The question is a form of mental masturbation. It won’t hurt to ask, but the answer won’t mean much, except to you. And remember, whatever answer you come up with is completely arbitrary.
If you thought that was fun, here are some other questions to ponder:
1. What is the sound of one hand clapping?
2. If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?
What Is The Point of Life?
Thinking about it a bit, it occurred to me that that question is slightly mis-worded. It should be, “What’s the purpose of life?”
Of course, when you ask it that way, the answer is obvious to any Scientologist (or should be). It comes from Dianetics The Modern Science of Mental Health. It’s SURVIVAL.
The problem with that answer is that, while it is factually true, it says nothing about the direction in which you want your life to survive. Porpoises and dogs have the luxury of surviving without a choice about how. For a human, it’s far too general an answer.
Reaching a little further up the track in Scientology, you arrive at a more flexible answer. Life is a game. The purpose of living is the playing of games.
In that context, the answer becomes clearer. A lifetime is a game with a definite but unpredictable duration. It goes from birth to death, whenever that is. Once that game is finished, It’s up to the thetan to pick a new game. (“I’ve had enough engineering for now. I think I’d like to play the drums next.”) In fact, a thetan can play a variety of games in one lifetime, though they’re mostly guaranteed to have the same duration. The games can be subdivided by dynamics. And with each, there are identities, tools, unique goals, and rules to the games. Everything LRH talked about when he lectured on games.
Even as a kid, I felt guilty about what I considered “wasting” time. It’s why I never took up music as a career. I always loved music. It was my favoriite art form. But I was aware that music never built a skyscraper or paved a road. As pleasurable as it was to listen to music, actually performing it seemed to serve no constructive purpose. You’d think I’d know better, since the right piece of music could definitely change my mood and frame of mind. It wasn’t until I read and thought about Ron’s “Art” series for many years that I gained a reasonable appreciation of art as a worthwhile pursuit.
I felt the same way about reading fiction. It’s why as a kid I read a lot more fiction than I have as an adult. As a kid, I could afford the kind of wasteful use of time that was reading Lord of the Rings or Dune. I still felt a little guilty, but as a kid I wasn’t in a position to repair ship engines or analyze soil samples. I had to do something with my time.
But if life is a game, you might want to consider that part of the game is to engage in pleasurable pursuits, even if they don’t reduce pollution or lead to world peace. This can, of course, be overdone. You still have to pay the rent and cook dinner. That’s part of the deal when the playing pieces are carbon-based life forms on the surface of Earth.
As a kid, I felt I had a purpose in life. My purpose was the search for the answers, the pursuit of wisdom. (I know it sounds a little too deep for a kid. I was kind of a serious kid.) As a teenager, my search became more focused. For a time, I sat with a bunch of girls in the lunchroom. Girls were easier to talk to about these things than guys, so I used to engage them in question-and-answer sessions about the intimate details of their lives. My particular purpose there was to discover what purposes they had for lives, and why they believed what they did in the areas of religion, politics, etc.
The more I questioned them, the more three things became clear:
- None of them had any real, defined purpose for their lives or living.
- There was virtually no reasoning behind their religious or political views. They came almost entirely from the context of their family and culture.
- In both of the two items above, they never questioned the foundations for what they thought or felt.
I puzzled over this for years, even decades, and finally, slowly realized what was going on.
- The games they were playing in life were almost entirely of someone else’s making.
- The purposes, rules, barriers and goals of the games were unknown to them.
- The primary activity of these games was simply responding to random events.
I’d wager these girls were representative of the majority of humanity. They were playing a game or games, they didn’t know it or anything really about it, and the majority of the game was waiting for something to happen and responding to it.
They were many steps below “need for change” and “demand for improvement”. This is one of the reasons you need to find a ruin on someone in order to interest them in Scientology. Until they can see a ruin in front of them, they’re unlikely to rise to the level of “need for change”.
(You might argue that as young girls in the mid-1970s, their options for games were more limited than guys and that their young ages would have an outsized effect on their answers to my questions. Both of those things are probably true. But I suspect the conclusions that I finally reached about them wouldn’t change much as time marched on and they got older. And I doubt even their sex would have all that much influence in the end.)
Your Game or Whose Game Is This, Anyway?
A lot of these Earth people are playing games they didn’t really select. When I was a kid, my parents convinced me that going to school every day was necessary. Finishing high school gave you a minimum education you would need to make it in the real world. So I studied, made good grades and kept my nose clean.
When I finished high school, I had accomplished the first goal they had set for me. Now was the time for the next game. The problem was that I was older and more discerning. The game they had selected for me was to go to college and get a degree, because of course you needed a degree to get a good job. (Understand that this goal was being pushed by two people who didn’t go to college, one of whom never even finished high school.)
So here I was in college. The problem was that the more college I had, the more I realized that this game was not a game I had selected. It was a game which had been selected for me. I went to classes and took subjects which struck me as complete rubbish. The longer I went, the more I questioned why I was there, what the purpose was. I knew for a fact that I could learn any subject I needed to learn far faster and more thoroughly on my own than by attending college classes in it.
Half-way through, I couldn’t take it anymore. I quit. It wasn’t my game in the first place, and I didn’t want to play it anymore.
I’m not at this point OT. And I haven’t had much auditing this lifetime, though I have gone whole track numerous times in session. I suppose that maybe OTs already get the above.
Whether you’re OT or not, if you’ve ever wondered about the above, the answer is as I detailed it:
- Life is a game.
- Figure out what kind of game or games you want to play, and then play it/them. Do as much research as you like before making a decision. And don’t worry– you can always change your mind.
- Any meaning assigned to the game of life is meaning you assigned. Know that you can change it at any time, and that any meaning assigned to life is completely arbitrary.
From HCOB Art: “Living itself can be an art.”