August 2013

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Fellowship of Friends

The Master Game

Esoteric traditions speak about the idea of an existing higher entity or force, which controls and rules the past as well as the future-a timeless creator. As such our lives are given and taken by him, and whatever he may be, he wrote the story of our existence from A to Z and so all which has happened or is to happen is already known somewhere.

"The chess master says nothing, other than moving the silent chess piece." Rumi

Since this idea creates the main paradox between man's free will and his possibility of action, naturally all traditions try to explain it in different ways. One of my favourites is the Jewish tradition that compares human destiny to a game of chess. Life is compared to a game of chess between the average person and a master player, only in this case the latter is trying to teach us something and make us evolve. Going deeper they say, while we can move our pieces around the board, it is actually the master player that controls and manipulates our moves and the entire game. It is the master who leads us where he wants us to be.

"Remember that you are an actor in a drama, of such kind as the author pleases to make it.
If short, of a short one; if long, of a long one.
If it be his pleasure you should act a poor man, a cripple, a governor, or a private person,
see that you act it naturally. For this is your business, to act well the character assigned you;
to choose it is another's."
Epictetus

Looking into another esoteric explanation, we see our presence on earth as a performance on stage. An actor receives a written play in which all is determined from the very first moment, and what is left to the actor is to use his mind and learn the words which will allow him to make play his role. However, if it is true that the actor cannot really choose his role, what is the significance of the player or the chess move?

"The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."
Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Our past has already happened, and what is left is only what we can learn from it. Our future is unknown and can only be estimated from the experience we gain from our past. This experience will determine our next move on the chess board, probably to where the master had already made sure we would be. So it seems the only thing left for us is that present moment where we actually touch the chess piece and move it. At that moment, at this moment in the present, we are masters of our own play, so naturally how we play has great importance.

Ancient myths and fairytales portray the events in the hero's life. We watch those characters change and grow as they pass through both difficult and cheerful events, till all finally fulfil their given destiny. By the end of the story we can see that none of their experiences could have been any different, that each trial was a necessary part of their journey, and that every event had to be lived through for them to reach their 'happily ever after'. In our personal story, if we pay attention to it, we can see how whatever we go through prepares us for the future as well, even if it is hard to see it while we are having the experience.

Taking this view helps us find meaning in existence, it is comforting in a way that we know there is a greater plan for us, but it may also seem as though we are taking the easy way out. Another look into this will however, allow us to observe that choosing this view takes us to a place where we are more aware of our life. By making more efforts to be aware of the things happening around us and within us, we become a conscious actor in the play of our life.

Our days are composed of single words and letters which create the small moments of life. Our mind is working continuously to learn all that is happening in order to make the best decisions and moves it can come up with. We see however, that what makes one action different than another is the quality of attention brought to the act itself. When our mind joins our heart, and both work together to their full, we can experience our life with presence. Watching the chess game from the outside, simply accepting it for what it is; one of our best teaching tools. This tool, this play, is designed especially for us, and as such we can be grateful for it and accept it whole heartedly.

Bringing awareness to simple moments sparks something divine and timeless. Then this timeless higher mind and heart observes how we, as the player, advance from one scene to the other, eventually creating a timeless performance, and by this transcending our own story.

"When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!" Lewis Carroll

Ron M.



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