The Game of Life

Originally printed in the May - June 2003 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Bland, Betty. "The Game of Life." Quest  91.3 (MAY - JUNE 2003):82- 83.


By Betty Bland, National President

Theosophical Society - Betty Bland served as President of the Theosophical Society in America and made many important and lasting contributions to the growth and legacy of the TSA. UNCERTAINTY IS ONE OF THE GREATEST OBSTACLES with which we human beings have to contend. Indeed, as I write this, war is raging in Iraq, with no certainty of out come and with pain on every side. Such imminent danger increases the difficulty of dealing with the unpredictable. So perhaps it is useful to explore how we might cope with uncertainty.

For those who enjoy sports contests and even for those who enjoy playing games of various sorts, part of the enjoyment is the edge of not knowing who will win. The contest keeps us fascinated just like a good mystery story in which we try to out guess the creative genius of the author. In these cases we consider the excitement pleasurable because the stakes are not so high although some sports fans seem to lose sight of that fact.

But if the outcome of the game affects us personally, then our anxiety level rises.This is one of the reasons that Tiger Woods has become such a folk hero. When his income and his reputation are riding on a single golf swing, he can often achieve a meditative calmness that allows him to perform to perfection. And even at those times when he is off his game, he still seems to maintain a degree of coolness envied by most golfers. He has a certain assurance, as if he realizes that indeed it is only a game.

The stakes grow even higher when our own safety is at risk, or the safety of loved ones,or of our country, or even our way of life. And yet, if we believe the Theosophical ideas of karma and the Divine Plan, then all of life is a kind of game, as our inner essence (or higher self) wends its way on the pilgrim journey of return to our source.

Whenever we find ourselves in trying circumstances, we can realize that we have been presented with an opportunity. We are being tested and trained to strengthen our resolve and to focus solely on our spiritual essence our one true Self. In her small book Practical Occultism, Madam Blavatsky wrote:

The "God" in us—that is to say, the Spirit of Love and Truth, Justice and Wisdom, Goodness and Power—should be our only true and permanent Love, our only reliance in everything, our only Faith, which, standing firm as a rock, can for ever be trusted;our only Hope, which will never fail us if all other things perish.

For most of us, this spiritual essence may seem impossible to reach, but it is attainable and worth all the effort it takes. To seek it, we have to begin where we are. All life is our classroom; our friends and enemies alike are our teachers; books and fellow student pilgrims support our study. Seeking this inner knowing with an open heart will bring us into contact with the mentors we need.

Perhaps a good beginning, in addition to daily meditation, would be to try regularly to remember who we truly are. When we are so reminded, we can better play the game of life and walk with certainty in the face of uncertainty. A helpful practice is to use bells assignals to recall us to our origins and reason for being. Whenever a bell sounds a distant chime, a clock, or even an inner ringing, repeat quietly the saying from the Buddhist contemplative tradition: "Listen, listen, listen to the wondrous sound of the bell. It calls me back to my one true Self."

Whatever troubles axe in the outer world, within that Self in each of us is a calm assurance. Whenever we access that center of certainty, endurance, and peace, we make it more available to both ourselves and others. May we all find that peace and may it abide in all beings. Shanti.