A game is a perfect example of what is meant by the term unconsciousness – when en we are immersed in playing a game we are the most unconscious we could ever be, we’re 100% unconscious. A game is – we could also say – a perfect example of ‘concentrating on the little picture so as to ignore the bigger context’. The little picture is the game, whilst the bigger context is what is commonly known as ‘reality’.
If we wanted to characterise this thing that we call ‘reality’ we could say that it is the situation where there are unlimited possibilities. This turns out to be no definition at all of course – it’s no definition at all because it’s totally open-ended. We are not in any way trying to say what reality ‘is’, therefore; we can only say what things are when we ‘narrow the field’, when we ‘restrict the possibilities’. That’s the only way to obtain definitions. A game, on the other hand, can be very readily explained as a situation where the possibilities are absolutely restricted. A more familiar way of putting this is to say that what goes on in a game is 100% regulated – games are all about rules, in other words. Unless we’re playing by the rules then we’re not playing the game, if we’re not playing by the rules then we’re simply going to be ‘disqualified’, we’re going to be excommunicated. Anything that isn’t defined in advance by the rules of the game is of no interest, no significance at all. When we’re playing the game then everything else – everything that isn’t predefined – is of absolutely zero interest to us, it might as well not exist. As far as we’re concerned it simply doesn’t exist and this is why we can say that ‘a game is where we concentrate on the little picture and totally ignore the big one’.
Whenever we restrict ourselves to the domain that comes into being as a result of us ‘following the rules and never deviating no matter what’ we’re concentrating on the little picture and ignoring the big one. We would of course say that there is nothing apart from following the rules, that there is no domain other than the domain that is mapped out by the rules. We would in other words say that there is no world out there other than the world as it has been defined by thought.
Outside of the ‘small picture’ which is the game there are no rules. It’s not so much that ‘anything goes’ – which implies a type of a chaotic ‘free for all’ – but rather that everything is allowed. From our normal, everyday standpoint we tend to feel somewhat alarmed at the radical notion of ‘no rules’ – who knows what might happen in this case? Because we are so habituated to living our lives ‘according to the rules’ we naturally feel that they are protecting us from something undesirable – we assume the rules are there for a good reason, in other words, and that it would be extraordinarily dangerous and irresponsible to get rid of them. We’d hang onto our restrictive rules forever if we could! The absence of rules isn’t dangerous however – that’s actually the natural state of affairs, that’s where everything started off from. When ‘everything is allowed’ that just means that <everything which is there is allowed to be there> – there’s no editing going on, no censoring, no ‘interference’. In this case, when there are no rules restricting what can happen, the true or unadulterated picture is allowed to shine forth. Wholeness is allowed to resume and even though we had no way of knowing, or even guessing, what this means this still isn’t a ‘dangerous’ thing. It’s not something we really need to worry about – it’s not our job to understand it. We have no business trying to understand it…
There isn’t anything we need to worry about – the natural state of affairs isn’t going to harm anyone, but this doesn’t mean that it can’t appear to be dangerous. From the point of view of the game we’re playing it most assuredly is dangerous; Wholeness is dangerous from the point of view of the game because we can’t play the game when we are aware that the game is only a game. To see that there is an ‘unlimited sweep of possibilities’ out there (and not just the one possibility) is of course the same thing as ‘seeing the game to be only the game’. The little picture can only come into its own when we don’t know that there is a Big Picture out there which we are seeking refuge from – awareness of the Big Picture changes everything because we can’t take the sheer pettiness of the small picture seriously anymore. If there was ‘no such thing as the Big Picture’ then the pettiness of which we speak would no longer be seen as petty – it would just be ‘the way things are’. We would in this case be compelled to take the rules and regulations which comprise the game very seriously indeed – we’d be in no end of trouble if we don’t.
We can see this happening every time we step out of the institution that we’re operating within – and most of us have experience of operating within some institutional or other, whether it’s a school or college or the organisation within which we work or failing that the social system / family that we are part of as soon as we escaped from the institution in questions sphere of influence we are immediately struck by how petty the rules that govern it’s really all. When we are under the influence of the small world which is the institution then it seems like everything; it seems like the whole world to us and we bow down to it accordingly. Afterwards – however – there is the very strong sense that we had been subjected to a hoax, and we realise that all the things at the system told us were quite untrue. This is a bit like waking up from some sort of enchantment and then finding it hard to understand how we could have been so easily taken in by it. It’s not that the small picture is now revealed as being ‘only the small picture’ either but rather that we now see that the small picture never actually existed in the first place. It was only a ‘local hallucination’ caused by lack of perspective, caused by us not seeing things properly. We only believed the SP to exist because we had nothing else to go on, we only believed it to exist because the game was all we knew.
Instead of talking about games being ‘situations where everything is predetermined or preordained by rules’ and talking about the BP as being ‘the open-ended situation where there are no rules’, we could just as well say that game reality is an illusion therefore, a tawdry fantasy that we were (temporarily) compelled to take seriously, whilst what lies outside of our fantasies, our games, is reality itself. This puts things back in their proper perspective: as the line goes in the Bhagavad Gita,
Know that the unreal has no being and that the real never ceases to be.
Once we see this then we can understand the antipathy that we feel towards the Big Picture (or towards Wholeness) – our antipathy is total, it is such that we will deny the Greater Context of things to the limit of our ability, and this is of course – as we said right in the beginning of this discussion – is what games are all about.
Games are all about blocking out the Big Picture whilst the BP that is being blocked out is nothing other than reality itself. When we block out reality and take up residence within the confines of the game, we become the victims of a very particular double-edged illusion, a duplex illusion that keeps us busy full time – the illusion in question being that of ‘advantage versus disadvantage’. The game isn’t made up of unconditioned space (i.e., space in which there can be genuine movement, or genuine change) but a distorted analogue of space, (i.e., ‘space that is based on rules’) and this analogue is in turn mirrored by ‘the distorted analogue of consciousness’ which is thought. This distortion is profoundly invisible to us and the consequence of our blindness in this regard is that we imagine ourselves to possess a freedom that we absolutely don’t. The space that makes up a game is ‘kinked’ in such a way that ‘moving in a positive direction’ seamlessly and invisibly turns into ‘movement in a negative direction’ (such that the net movement is zero). Instead of talking about conditioned space having ‘an invisible kink in it’, we could equally well say that conditioned awareness (which is the awareness we have in a game) is ‘awareness with a kink built into it’.
What we’re talking about here is therefore an invisible distortion in the way we see the world, or the way we understand the world, which generates the perception of things which aren’t really there. The Sutra of Complete Enlightenment talks about ‘a sickness of the eyes that causes us to see a flower in the air that isn’t really there’, and so what we’re talking about is an illness of the mind so I just speak that causes us to see something which has no existence in reality, namely the duality of gain versus loss, the duality of advantage versus disadvantage. The polarity of ‘loss versus gain’ is an illusion that is created by the kink that we can’t see to be there. The ‘kink’ that we’re talking about here is a ‘standard strange loop’ where – although there is only the one surface – there appear to be two. When we look out at the world on the basis of the (kinked) conditioned mind we see two things that are really only the one thing – we see ‘winning and losing’, ‘succeeding and failing’, ‘pleasure and pain’, when – if only we could only grasp it – there’s only the one thing, which is the conditioned or extrinsic self.
The false polarity of ‘yes versus no’, ‘gain versus loss’ equals one thing and one thing only, and that is ‘the self’. The self can only exist when it perceives itself to have the freedom – potentially at least – to obtain one outcome but not the corresponding opposite outcome. The extrinsic self runs on extrinsic motivation, which can be defined as ‘the motivation to win but not lose’, ‘the motivation to succeed rather than fail’. Extrinsic motivation is the motivation of games therefore, and the motivation of games is a deceptive motivation because succeeding and failing are the same thing, not two different things. This is notoriously hard to see (in fact it’s impossible to see from the standpoint of the everyday mind) but that doesn’t mean anything – illusions are easy to see but that doesn’t make them true. When we are playing a game then the way this works is that ‘the game lends us its mind’ (equating ‘the game’ here with Carlos Castaneda’s notion of the predator), and the mind that the game lends us is a mind with no freedom in it. Instead of freedom, this mind has a strange loop in it which – because we can’t see it (since it is our viewpoint) – causes us to get trapped in the world of polarity.
The Mobius Mind is ‘the Mind of Samsara’, we might say, and no matter what we do on this basis (on the basis of PLUS and MINUS being two different things, on the basis that the strange loop has two separate surfaces when it has only the one) it is only ever going to be a continuation (or perpetuation) of the central distortion, it’s only ever going to be externalisation or projection of the systematic error that we can never see because we have identified with the system which that error is associated with. We can’t see the distortion because we are it, or, as we could also say, ‘the problem the self is always trying to fix is itself’. We project our darkness out onto the world, and then keep ourselves busy struggling against it, whilst thinking the whole time that we’re achieving (or at least trying to achieve) something useful, something worthwhile….
Image – rare-gallery.com