From a philosophical point of view looking at human lifetime, it is really a short game. The reason we don’t notice the game nature of life is probably because this game is mixed with many illusions and the misperception of our five senses. A number of these illusions and misperceptions have been discussed in my book “The Two Worlds”; the illusions of senses such as sight, touch and the illusion of passage of time. An example of these misperceptions was given as the visual solidity of the objects, while according to physics, everything in our physical world is almost completely empty or a vacuum. We know that the building block of everything in our world is tiny particles known as atoms. And according to physical structure of atoms, they preserve a relatively vastly space in them, way more than 99.99%. This is the truth of physical objects in the nature however we do not clearly perceive this truth, due to the limitation of our senses. We do not notice the emptiness of physical world, because our eyes can only detect the reflection of visible light which cannot penetrate the atoms in the surfaces of objects. We all know that X-Ray can penetrate the atoms of the softer tissues and be reflected by the surface of bones. That is because the bones are made of calcium atoms with much denser nucleus.
Our sense of touch also is limited by the electrons at the surface of our body which repel the electrons at the surfaces of other physical objects. There are more to the types of limitations and misperceptions of human’s senses, but these two examples would suffice at this stage. All these misperceptions and illusions can be interpreted as the tricks of a game. The terms “play, game, illusions” all etymologically share the same origin. “Play and Game in Latin would translate to ludum, ludre and lusio from which illusion is sourced from. The nature or should we say the beauty of any game or play is to trick the player by adding illusion to it.
With so many misperception and illusions in the world and human’s life, it proves that life is a game and we are playing in it and it seems that the universe is playing with us. It seems that other forms of life such as plants and animals are also playing the game of life, but perhaps they are more aware of the game, and it seems that they suffer from misperceptions and illusions less than us, humans. For example, they are totally timeless. The illusory dimensions of time in form of past and future has no place in their natural way of life, and as a matter of fact they seem to be enjoying the game too, without any negative thoughts and emotions; stress, anxiety, worry, anger, craving, greed etc. There are many philosophers and men of wisdom who have talked about the game nature of life. Alan Watts has extensively mentioned about illusions, misperceptions and the game of life in his teachings. Here is a quartet from Omar Khayyam.
We are chess pieces and the universe, is the player
We play on the checkerboard of life for a while
On its blacks and whites as our days and nights
We return to the chess box, whether played as kings or knights
~ Omar Khayyam Poetry,
slightly modified to cross the cultural borders
Attar of Nishabur also mentions about the illusions, misperception and the game nature of life in the following couplet:
Since I am in a virtual world,
It is hard to find the truth of the story
The poet of the 11th century Sanai Ghaznavi has a similar assertion in the following piece:
In this unreal world,
The life will end in the body of man,
without finally arriving at the truth.
It also seems that the universe or even the Creator are looking at us in this game and enjoying us playing the game. For example, when human invents electrical light as a model of natural light, or the airplane as a model of bird, the universe and the Creator of nature will be pleased with our endeavor. The regrowth of plants in the spring after a winter period of hiding in the soil, seems like a play of hide and seek in this intelligent and conscious universe. (In another blog I will talk about the intelligence and consciousness of the universe or even our planet earth as live organisms. Here is how Rumi observes the playfulness of the plants and trees:
Assume not that trees go asleep in the winter,
Their roots drink wine secretly
and play hide and seek with their Creator.
But in any case, there is no problem in the universal game at all. It is the way it is, we do not know why, and this secret, like many other universal secrets, remains concealed for now. The problem though is that we as humans mostly are unaware of such game. We play in it, without knowing that we are. We are so submerged in the play, as sometimes the competent actors of theater are without knowing that they are playing, with this difference that human unawareness in the game of life is not competency of the player but ignorance; a degree of unconsciousness and sleepwalking that has no fruit except suffering. When this unawareness causes man to play unfair, in form of greed and selfishness he will cause suffering to his fellow man, and when causes him to play badly, the result is his own suffering; negative thoughts and emotion and missing the beauty of game. And this the scenario of suffering on the surface of the planet in form of wars, ethnical cleansing, inflicting suffering to other nations, pollution of the planet and so on.
In addition, the life being a game, it is incredibly short too. And we not being able to sense its shortness properly, is due to the illusion of time and the way we perceive it. Illusion of time will be elaborated with more detail in a separate blog as well it has been explained in my book The Two Worlds. But to talk briefly about it, the illusion of time is the way we record in our memory the changes in our environment. The universal flow causes the universal changes, such as change of seasons, changes in nature or even man-made changes in our environment. We observe this changes and record in our memory relative to other changes and not relative to passage of time unit at all. All the universal changes occur in the present moment and all the clock unit of seconds, have no choice but to unfold in the unique single eternal and unchangeable “Now”.
If we compare the average life time of a human with that of a butterfly, according to humanly definition we see a difference of about eighty years to one month respectively. It is also possible an intelligent form of life in another planet to have an average lifetime of 800 or eight years. This is human, his mind, the evolution process and his five senses that measures his lifetime with time unit. No other form of life on the planet is aware of the length or shortness of its lifetime. All other forms of life live in absolute timelessness and only participate in and enjoy the game of life. In addition, in the eye of the universe there is not much difference between the lifetime duration of a human and a butterfly, a bird or a leaf on a tree. To the universe as an intelligent organism, and due to its vastness, infinite dimensions both in terms of space and time, there is not much difference between the lifetime of a young person who dies accidentally at the age of twenty-five or that of another human who dies at the age of nighty. Such a difference only manifests itself to human. Although, the deaths at younger age appears to human as painful and unjust but to the eye of the universe it is neither, or at least not unjust, as it is not with a fallen leaf from a tree. And such a reality does not due to universal injustice, but to the humanly delusion and misperceptions of senses and illusion of time; and as a result, it is man that normally sees his lifetime as a reasonably long duration. Due to such misperception, time appears to pass slower. This sense of passage of time is not the same during the lifetime, as it is slower in the younger ages, it is faster after the midlife. If the perception of passage of time was not delusional, it must have been the same along the entire lifetime, and according to the precision of time units; seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and year; the duration of these units is unchangeable and in absolute precision; why they appear to us sometimes slower and but faster in other circumstances?
And finally, why life is a short game, or why life and existence should be in this manner, we really don’t know, and It remains a secret like many other universal secrets, but in any case, we have no choice but to accept it, as it is.
“Life is a big secret flowing in us”
To wrap up this discussion, we come to the conclusion that we humans, should be aware of the game nature of the life, its briefness, play it consciously, take advantage of and enjoy every minute of it. We should also play fairly so that we do not inflict suffering on self and our fellow humans.