A Serious Game

Next to me my brother and a few friends are sitting down to play Super Smash Brothers Melee. It’s an old fighting game for Gamecube that has recently become more popular. If you haven’t played it, it combines all the great Nintendo characters into a single platform level where you have to knock each other off the stage in order to win the match. This style of double-jumping puppets puttering about the stage is fun to watch. Sometimes you can have a soft squishy character dodging flying missiles and singing to make the other opponent fall asleep. It’s a weird game, but it has lots of dynamics.

My brother has said countless times that before Vipassana, this was his greatest teaching tool for himself and others. Radically, it takes how you approach life and translates it into the visual performance of how you use your character on the screen. If you’re lazy, you’ll move around lazily. If you’re avoiding something in your life, somehow in your movement, you can see it. It’s a very reflective game in this way and has so much capacity for observing your own mind and your own habits. I’ve only recently taken it up as a more helpful tool in this sense, not playing lazily or ‘just for fun,’ but instead taking this fun seriously.

This seriousness is not something that I go about with a long, drawn face. It’s more a seriousness of, “Since this thing is a part of my life, I’m going to take part of my life and dedicate it to this thing.” The best things to do this with are things that have a lot of depth in being reflections of ourselves. Things that show to us what we need to know to be better people. Super Smash Bros has been a great tool for this and certainly Vipassana as well.

We become serious when we really enjoy something or when we know that we ought to do it every day because it would be something that we would really benefit it. Every writer or artist knows that the hard part is sitting down to do the work, not the actual work itself. We have to be serious about it, but treat it as a game. This means coming to play with it every day and coming it to the spirit of it being a new, fresh adventure each time. The real gem comes from our commitments and persistence. It means coming to your meditation cushion every morning and evening, but doing it with a lightness.

Now imagine Mario shooting his fire at the on-coming fist of the great Donkey Kong. Does it feel epic? Would it feel more important if we knew it was the last time that it’ll happen? It’s good to pretend that this is the final battle. This breath, and this one. Be the knights standing vigilantly at the gates of your nostrils. Don’t sit down and complain about how your sit is an hour long. Use what you do for all its’ worth, but with ease. Only with ease can you get all that you can get from it.

There’s a lot of difference between being able to control what your character does and controlling your character with purpose. When you get to the core purpose behind why anything is done, everything will benefit from that. You will deliberately choose what you want to take time for. You will take what’s a part of your life and make them a part of your life. Make it the last match because it’s the more fun when the stakes are high. Play with all you’ve got.

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