spiritual

The Soul Game

[This is a chapter from a currently-unpublished book I’m writing on meditation and mindfulness.]

As a spiritual being, one possible way to think of life here on Earth is as a “game” that serves as a training ground for the soul. It’s a game like other games, so it has many levels, and they get harder and harder as you progress. So in this case, the better you become at the game of spirituality — the Soul Game — the harder the levels become.

To help set some rules for the game, let’s say that it has fifty levels. The first time you play the game you’re born here on Earth in Level 1. Hopefully you score some points and move up, so maybe by the time it’s “game over” for your first lifetime, you’ve passed Level 9 and you’re playing on Level 10. Maybe you get a brief break in between lifetimes, but the next time you’re born you start right where you left off, at Level 10.

This brings me to a very important rule: Once you start playing the Soul Game, you’re strapped in for eternity. (That was clearly mentioned on page 52 of the End User License Agreement.) Once you’re in the game there are only two ways out:

Creating a prayer that has meaning to me

Once upon a time I lived in Alabama and had a 52-mile daily drive to work at a NASA facility in Mississippi, which gave me a lot of time to think. At one point on the trip you pass eight churches in ten miles — a friend referred to that stretch as “The highway to heaven” — and seeing weddings, funerals, and other gatherings at those churches led me to think about life, death, and spirituality.

I was very aware that I was a spiritual being since I was 16, but despite that I never cared for a religious framework; every church I’d ever been to seemed superficial compared to what I had experienced. That being said, I always thought prayer was a good thing — it helped to create a proper state of mind — so I tried to come up my own prayer, something I could believe in.

One idea I came up with was to write some sort of prayer that would honor the ancestors that led to my life on Earth. But, I thought, a problem with this approach was that my ancestors weren’t all that honorable. My mom is probably the nicest person in the world, so there was no problem there, but without getting into details, my dad, my grandparents, aunts and uncles ... there weren’t many people I was concerned about honoring.

A tale of two stories

A couple of stories are bouncing around in my head, so I thought I’d write them down to get them out of there.

In story #1, I was meditating a few nights ago when “Boom!” I was standing in the house I grew up in. I always wanted to go back there to see what it was like with an older set of eyes, so I took my time in walking around, looking at and touching everything. Eventually I walked downstairs, and when I got there a young version of my mom came out of her bedroom and seem concerned about something. Then she looked at me and said, “Money is important, isn’t it?” I replied, “I suppose so,” and then she kept walking around with that concerned look, and then the scene ended just as fast as it began and I was back in the darkness of meditation.

In story #2, my family was at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, and I probably wasn’t a teenager yet, maybe thirteen years old at the most. I think I went to get a drink of water, and when I turned around an older hippie girl was standing there. She leaned down and pinned a little fake red flower on my shirt and said something spiritual, which I thought was cool. Then she asked if could give her some money. I didn’t have any money, and when I told her that, she ripped the flower off my shirt and stomped away much less peacefully. I remember thinking that her behavior wasn’t correct, and I suspect that incident made me mistrust religious people for quite some time.

(From a Facebook post from May, 2018.)

Ram Dass on spirituality and meditation

“I view spiritual practice as the freeing of awareness from identification with anything ... One of the ways to do that is, for example, to pick an object of concentration and focus on that, and let everything else come and go. So let’s say I’m gonna follow my breath, rising and falling, rising and falling. Now my awareness can feel that muscle going up and down, that’s really where the focus is.”

The Lone Zen Master

I’ll be joining a new yoga class soon, and I was just thinking about what I might say, or not say, to the other students in the class about the things I’ve experienced when practicing yoga very seriously. In an open discussion during a previous yoga class I told other students that I was able to feel various things when we did the “corpse pose” at the end of the session. I didn’t go into great detail, but I did tell them that I could feel my blood flowing in my body, how I could feel “vibration” sensations on my skin, and a few other things.

Tina Turner performing the Peace Mantra

This is a video of Tina Turner — yes, that Tina Turner — and a bunch of young people performing the “Peace Mantra.” Great to hear her voice again, great video.

(If you happen to know my mom, you’ll notice that there’s a young girl near the end of the video that looks like her.)