Aug 15, 2016

The Master Game

Seek above all a game worth playing. Having found the game, play it with intensity. If life does not seem to offer a game worth playing, then invent one. For it must be clear, even to the most clouded intelligence, that any game is better than no game. 
Although it is safe to play the Master Game, this has not served to make it popular. It still remains the most demanding and difficult of games and in our society there are few who play. Contemporary man, hypnotized by the glitter of his own gadgets, has little contact with the inner world, concerns himself with outer, not inner space. 
The Master Game is played entirely in the inner world, a vast and complex territory about which men know very little. The aim of the game is true awakening, full development of the powers latent in man. The game can be played only by people whose observations of themselves and others have led them to a certain conclusion, namely, that man’s ordinary state of consciousness, his so-called waking state, is not the highest level of consciousness of which he is capable. In fact, this state is so far from real awakening that it could appropriately be called a form of somnambulism, a condition of “waking sleep”. 
Once a person has reached this conclusion, he is no longer able to sleep comfortably. A new appetite develops within him, the hunger for real awakening, for full consciousness. He realizes that he know only a tiny fraction of what he could see, hear and know, that he lives in the poorest, shabbiest of the rooms in his inner dwelling, and that he could enter the rooms, beautiful and filled with treasures, the windows of which look out on eternity and infinity. 
The player lives today in a culture that is more or less totally opposed to the aims he has set himself, that does not recognize the existence of the Master Game, and regards players of this game as slightly mad. The player thus confronts great opposition from the culture in which he lives and must strive with forces which tend to bring his game to a halt before it has even started. Only by finding a teacher and becoming part of the group of pupils that that teacher has collected about him can the player find encouragement and support. Otherwise he simply forgets his aim, or wanders off down some side road and loses himself. 
Here it is sufficient to say that the Master Game can NEVER be made easy to play. It demands all that a man has, all his feelings, all his thought, his entire resources, physical and spiritual. If he tries to play it in a halfhearted way or tries to get results by unlawful means he runs the risk of destroying his own potential. For this reason it is better no to embark on the game than to play halfheartedly.
-Robert DeRopp

Apr 5, 2016

The Ultimate Teacher

When Lee Atwater conducted dirty trick politics to denounce the Democratic Party, he reveled in slander and controversy. When he came down with brain cancer, he realized the meanness that he had inflicted on many good people. To his credit, he recanted his stories and apologized to many of those whose lives and careers he had damaged. 
I had my own reckoning with Death a little over a decade ago. I chose to ignore a growing lump in my neck for a couple of years until it suddenly began growing quickly and spreading through my lymph glands. I lived a healthy life, so I assumed that no such thing could ever happen to me. My physicians noted that my positive attitude was a form of denial. 
Cancer doesn’t have anything to teach except how to endure unbearable pain. But as my body shrank from malnutrition, I met the real teacher—the one that some call the Grim Reaper. 
I conducted a few projects with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross some years ago. In her famous book On Death and Dying she identified stages of dying as denial, anger, bargaining, and acceptance. It was one thing to hear about them as a healthy young man, sitting through the deaths of others, and another thing altogether to watch my own life dissolving through those conditions. 
When death appears imminent, the mind ultimately accepts the end of every belief, idea, opinion, and attitude. First you get an inkling of how much you don’t know, and you begin to fathom how much you will never know. As a young psychologist, I figured that I had figured out a lot of things. That was an illusion. 
When I pulled through, I had a new way of viewing life. I loved sweeter and I cared more deeply for each moment and each person I met. My friends and family didn’t cotton to the new me, but it wasn’t like I had a choice. When you finally see, you can’t shake the vision or pretend to be anything or anyone--at least that how it went for me. Now I live with a certain appreciation for the randomness and marvelousness of this planet that we share. 
Tim McGraw sings a lovely song about a man who was diagnosed with a deadly disease. His protagonist then went skydiving, Rocky Mountain climbing, and became the friend a friend would like to have. He learned to forgive, to live deeper and love sweeter. The lyrics end with this sentence “I hope some day you get the chance to live like your were dying.” 
That is my sentiment exactly.

Jan 12, 2016

Chimps to Chumps to Champs

In the delightful comedy Big Bang Theory, the Sheldon character tries to explain how important it is for him to meet Steven Hawking: “Imagine that you lived on a planet populated by dogs in which you were the only human. And then you heard about another human. Wouldn’t you want to meet him?” When his associate takes offense, he reframes his dilemma: “Imagine that you lived on a planet populated by chimps…. 
A few eons ago humans and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor. As some archeologists imagine it, an especially intelligent female, often labeled Eve, split from her primate tribe to form a small community of extremely clever members that preferred to walk upright and to communicate abstract concepts by means of a rudimentary language. She and her contemporaries developed oily skin that enabled them to live near the sea, a super large brain, and an opposable thumb that made it possible to handle complex tools. Her offspring ultimately evolved into the modern humans we know today. 
So let’s imagine that a few Eves, along with their Adams, are beginning to branch off from the family tree. They would probably be brilliant individuals, prone to exploring complex realities and to gather in tribes and organizations that were less prone to aggressive dominance. Their gentle natures would enable them to work and play together in highly sophisticated games designed to create astonishing new toys and tools. 
As the pace of change picks up, tough-guy warlords would reluctantly begin to hand over the reins of leadership to their brilliant cousins. All of society would benefit from the algorithms of this elite troupe. There would likely be friction and a certain amount of violence as the humans opposed to change and transformation would fight desperately to maintain their grip on power. Therefore, the new species would gather in elite business communities and accept a variety of labels to make them less threatening to the masses. 
Imagine that some of these new players would focus on mechanical technology or new forms of science, while others would gravitate to finer systems of leadership through collaboration. They would enjoy discovering advanced systems of human dynamics that would both baffle and benefit all of society. You could easily see how weapons would become obsolete and how vast capital, human, and natural resources would be allocated to eradicate slavery, war and incarceration. 
You can allow your imagination to run free, envisioning all sorts of new productive enterprises and harmonious partnerships. Within a couple of generations the rough and tumble humans would begin to emulate their brilliant cousins, transforming the values and dissipative structures that would evolve even faster than the humans that created them. 
Perhaps this is only fantasy. Or perhaps there are invisible changes that are already rocking our industrial, educational, and social conventions. It would be my pleasure to hear from you and to contemplate your observations related to this topic.