Video Games

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I was playing video games with my nephew on his birthday. We were soldiers of fortune in the future. Before starting the game, we both had time to design our own characters just the way we like. We each chose a name and then selected certain strengths and weaknesses based on personal preferences and prescribed limitations. We were then given a briefing on our mission ahead and then inserted into the game world. Our mission was to save the galaxy from the constant encroachment of some menacing alien horde. He had his character. I had mine. We were partners on the same team. We could operate together as a small unit helping one another or move in our own directions exploring different areas separately.

It was really quite amazing. But I was losing badly. Badly. Time after time, my man would get snuffed in some horrendous way, only to be brought back to life in the exact place where he left off and pick up the game again. My character usually bit the dust in the process of trying to overcome the latest hurdle or while learning some new skill. Eventually, at some point in the game, I ran out of men, and with no more lives left, I sat there sullenly watching my nephew save the galaxy on his own. It was frustrating and quite humbling to be so soundly outplayed by an 11-year-old boy. I began to notice how anxious I was becoming and a rising feeling of failure.

Finally, my nephew, sensing my distress, leaned over and grabbed my controller. Benevolently, he punched a series of buttons and said, "There." As if by magic, my man suddenly reappeared, fresh and ready to play. "What'd you do?" My nephew, already off and running his character into the next alien gauntlet, said, "It's a special code. Now you have infinite lives. Let's play."

I breathed a huge sigh of relief and took off after him, lasers blazing.

I don't know why, but as we continued the game I kept hearing the last thing my nephew had said, "Now you have infinite lives. Let's play!"

I noticed how all my anxiety and frustration had simply vanished.

And for some reason, I remembered the words of the French Christian mystic Tielhard de Chardin, "You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience."

I laughed so hard I got killed again.

I realized that I had become so attached to my video game character immersed in a virtual world that I was getting upset as if it were ultimately real. I was forgetting all about the ‘me' safely watching from outside the game with a controller resting in his hands.

As we kept playing, I noticed that with the knowledge that I had infinite lives, I played the game differently. I relaxed. I enjoyed myself more. I opened up and took more chances, more risks with less anxiety and frustration. I wasn't as afraid of making mistakes or failing. In fact, in the grand scheme of the game I couldn't fail, I could only learn and get better. I played to the fullest. If I got taken out, I didn't sweat it. I simply got back in the game even more determined than before to overcome the next challenge. I and my character were seizing the day!

If we are spiritual beings having a human experience then life takes on an entirely different meaning. We live life from a different perspective. If we are infinite souls in beautiful human guise experiencing a wonderful teaching game called Life then our approach to everything becomes transformed. Our true reference point becomes one of spirit, and because you are a soul each new experience is seen as an opportunity for spiritual growth and learning.

The most revered mystics of the East and West for millennia have all been telling us same thing. Based on their enlightened meditations and dedicated explorations, all have come back with the same news: God is All, we are spirit, and the universe is an illusion, or Maya, a virtual reality created so that we may learn and grow and play. Even science, in the last several decades, especially with the discoveries of Relativity and Quantum Physics, has been begun to lean toward some similar conclusions.

As my nephew and I finished playing the game he turned to me and said, "Thanks for the gift. That was great!" I looked deeply at him and realized that he was just like me. He was a soul having a human experience. In fact, we were two souls sharing a human experience. Tonight he had been my friend, my partner and my teacher in more ways than one. He had helped me remember, and he had returned my gift with another even more wonderful offering in kind, a simple reminder: You have infinite lives. Let's play! Namaste.

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