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Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Game of Snakes and Arrows is On Again

Thanks to the great art of Rush, Snakes and Arrows is seeing the light once again. You probably played "Chutes and Ladders" in the dim and distant past (that is, in your early childhood), and that modern game is the watered down British version of the ancient Indus Valley Hindu-Buddhist game (or maybe "ungame") of Snakes and Arrows. "Chutes and Ladders" was sometimes called "Snakes and Ladders", in fact. But, you know, those Victorian Christian Brits weren't going to allow snakes to figure so prominently in someone's destiny, even though they were still an undeservedly negative symbol.

In the game of Snakes & Arrows, the player rolls a single die. This die roll is supposed to be influenced by the roller's personal energy that has been brought about as the consequences of said die roller's sum total of actions and deeds in the present as well as in past lives. The purpose of the game is not really to "win" but to come to a window on self-awareness or self-fulfillment. If you know where you are then you know where you are going or can begin going to. Arrows take you higher, while the Snakes bring you down. The structure of the game is such that it is meant to mirror the path of obstacles and insights that one encounters on the road of self-development.

Like the stock market on the way to bringing investors profits, the soul experiences highs and lows, ups and downs on the way to "self-actualization". The repeated encounters with arrows here and snakes there eventually let the player see through his own illusions about himself or his take on the world around him (always intertwined) and come to know how to act with dharma, or the principal of actively doing what is right (right as in correct and as in ethical). It is very interesting that to the Hindus, who directly preceded the Buddhists and out of whom the Buddhists emerged, Dharma is the body of written works of correct teachings, while to the later Buddhists it is the principal of correct action. I guess correct teachings bring about correct actions, huh?

If you know the dharma, then you have achieved self-actualization. What other Heaven could you really desire or need?

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