Two-Level Game

When man awakes to the most obvious fact, that his innermost being is identical with the outer world, he adds a paradox to his existence. If he is verily all THAT, who or what is this “self” that seems so real and different from “other”? In trying to cope with this paradox the first reflex of almost all “awakened” one’s is to opt to replace their identification with “self” with an identification with THAT (thereby categorically discrediting the usual sense of self as unreal). In this phase, when one has tasted “heaven” earth seems as far away than ever and not a desireable place to return to. On the other hand, however, as the usual sense of self does not vanish and one does not miraculously dissolve into THAT, this bias creates confusion and therefore a sense of division and lack. This is the time, thus, when one needs to be introduced to the two level game.

For the sake of illustration let’s call level one the identification with “self” and level two the identification with THAT. Playing only at level one results in a life spiced with anxiety and fear about one’s existence (and obviously with their derivatives like sadness, restlessness, ambition, passion, etc). The more you get into level one, the more existence feels like a roller-coaster. Given its main motivator is fear (and its little brother desire), level one is active by nature. It’s quite a ride. It can be overwhelming, it’s messy but its juicy.
Playing only at level two leads to a somewhat watered down life of indifference with its derivatives sobriety and calmness. The more you get into level two the more passive and geological (as opposed to biological) existence will feel like. For those with (too) intense level one experiences, level two sounds like the perfect refuge (and I strongly suspect that the trying to cop-out from level one is the main reason for level two seeking in spiritual circles).
Give that each level lacks aspects of what the other level offers, the trick of the human game is to play at both levels at the same time. But how to?

As hinted at already, the answer lies in what one identifies himself with. This is where paradoxical thinking is needed. If we can think of ourselves as both humans and THAT we are there already. The spiritual traditions of the East did (and still do) a good job in creating images that can hold this paradox together. I like to think that we are all THAT (or “God”) deliberatly disguised as human beings for the sake of going through the motions of life. Level one means we forgot the THAT (“God”) part. Level two means we reject the human part. To be a whole (“holy”) human being who wants to live as much as it does not care to die, we need to play at both levels. When the levels meet (or in Hindu terminology when the lower three chakras and the upper three chakras are open simultaneously) then, in a sort of alchemistic symbiosis, another level opens (the middle or heart chakra) and with it clarity, equinamity, gratitude, serenity and compassion. These are the secret ingredients to an interesting ride (which per definition never is, and never ought to be, a smooth ride!) whereby life is lived for life’s sake, simply to maximize the joy of being alive.

To play at both levels is forever a balancing act: with the head in the clouds and the feet on the ground. Sometimes it is necessary to stick our heads a bit more often into the clouds, then again comes the time to ground ourselves a bit more. For balancing is like dancing, it knows no final resting place.



8 Comments on “Two-Level Game”

  1. happy ;) says:

    Very nice and clear said ….also I believe that for the balance is needed beside the thinking, connect with our inner “voice” and follow what brings us more joy in life, being ourselves without judging us or anything that happen, without expectations. Is another balance, between the mind and soul, but yes the balance is the key.


    AlwaysLIVEBLISS notices that my femininity characteristically enjoys bumpy places today as tomorrows do not seem to be quite as resolute. Resplendent sHe
    AND Thanks, NAMASTE

  3. You said it, “to play at both levels is forever a balancing act”. And that can be a problem, as when juggling one thing against another, intentionally or self-consciously, whereby thinking is involved. It could also amount to ‘eating the cake and have it too’. Why not just abstain from all identifications and attachments, and take all that comes in stride, whether pleasurable or otherwise? That would be more simple.

    However, there is something I really liked in this post (as well as much else) “I like to think that we are all THAT (or “God”) deliberatly disguised as human beings for the sake of going through the motions of life”. Thank you.

    • Thank you for commenting. Balancing is never a conscious or intentional act. If I TRY to balance, I fall, just as if I try too hard to walk, I stumble. Along the same lines I could argue that if I try to abstain from all identification (as you suggest) I am as lost in a mental world as ever, because what is identification but a mental construct? All teachings are pointers, never truths in itself. What I tried to convey wrapped up in symbolic image is that balancing means playing with the gravity of life (not trying to play). If I understood you correctly, I think there our symbolic language meets.

  4. Crystal says:

    Lovely pointers. I especially like your emphasis on the importance of paradoxical thinking. For me the most important thing is not to “identify with THAT” but to realize that there is no-thing that is actually doing the identifying. Yes, you recognize your true nature (THAT) and you simultaneously realize that there is no you in the first place. And conscious inquiry into what it is that does all of this realizing is .. well, a wordlessly beautiful thingless thing 😉

    I’m not sure that “balancing act” is the most useful metaphor.. it implies that balance is possible, or that it’s even something to aspire to – and I’m not sure that’s the case. I prefer thinking of it as a flow. Everything is just flowing.

    I think the most essential teaching is that there is basically nothing “you” can do. There’s no need to identify with this or that. And whenever the need arises to identify in any particular way, you will..

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