Life is a game but Human life is not. We invent games, we dictate their rules and objectives. In a game of chess there are good moves, bad moves, and within the game, a definite point to playing, namely to win, just as within the wider context of life there is a point to playing chess.
This is the secret – you must remember, you can’t make a mistake.
Now that’s a very difficult thing to do. Because from childhood up we have had to conform to a certain social game. And if you are going to conform to this game you can make mistakes or not make mistakes. And so, this thing has gone into us all the time, ‘You must do the right thing! There’s certain conduct appropriate here. There’s certain conduct appropriate there.’ And that sticks in us. And gives us a double Self all our lives long because we never grow up.
Do you realize that the whole of life plays a game? Which is a childhood game. You got three kinds of people: Top people, Middle people, and Bottom people.
And there can’t be any middle people unless there are bottom people and top people. And there can’t be any top people unless there are middle and bottom people and so it goes. And everybody is trying to be in the top set. Well if they are going to be there then there’s gotta be people in the bottom set.
And there are people who do the ‘right’ thing and people who do the ‘wrong’ thing. Here in Sausalito we have this very yery plainly, there are the ‘right’ people, the nice people who live up on the hill. Then there are the ‘nasty’ people who live right here on the waterfront and they grow beards and they wear blue jeans and they smoke marijuana. And whereas the people on the top of the hill drive Cadillacs and have wall-to-wall carpeting and nicely mowed lawns and their particular kind of poison is alcohol.
Now, the people who live on the top of the hill know that they are nice people; but they wouldn’t know that they were nice people unless they had some nasty people to compare themselves with.
Every In-group requires an Out-group. Whereas the nasty people, think they are the real far-out people, whereas those people those hillbillies are squares. And they wouldn’t be able to feel far-out unless there were squares.
See, these things simply go together. But when that is not seen, we play the games of ‘getting on top of things’, all the time. And so we are in a constant state of competition. As to – if it’s not ‘I’m stronger than you’ it’s ‘I’m wiser than you. I’m more loving than you. I’m more tolerant than you. I’m more sophisticated than you.’ It doesn’t matter what it is, but this constant competition is going on.
In terms of that competition we can of course lose place and in that sense make mistakes. But what a Zen student is, is a person who is not involved in the status game. That’s the real meaning of a monk. He is not ‘Keeping up with the Jones’. And to be a Master he must get to a certain point where he’s not trying to be a Master.
The whole idea of your being better than anybody else simply doesn’t make any sense at all. It is totally meaningless. Because you see, everybody manifesting the marvel of the universe in the same way as the stars do. And the water and the winds and the animals.
And you see them all as being in their right places and not being able really, to make mistakes although they may think they are making mistakes or not making mistakes. And playing all these competitive games. But that’s their game!
Now, I only say if that game begins to bore you, and it begins to trouble you and give you ulcers and all kinds of things, then you raise the problem of getting out of it and therefore you start to get interested in things like Zen. That is simply a symptom of your growing in a certain direction.
Where you are tired of playing a certain kind of game. You are as naturally flowing in another direction as if a tree were putting out a new branch.