It seems the player can never leave the game

Let us imagine sometime in the future there is a simulation/ virtual reality game that is so real that on a certain level it’s hard to distinguish it from everyday reality. As with all such games, no matter how real, we can always pull the plug and get out of the game. What Buddhism has done, and I include Zen, is reveal that our very human existence is not unlike a modern-day simulation/virtual reality game.

But there is a critical difference between the two. The player of the VR game is always outside of the game. But we humans are embodied in the game and cannot find an escape. To help us survive this catastrophic predicament we have an imagination, but no way to transcend it. It is still part of the game.

This can only mean one thing, we are doomed to play the game again and again. We are a player trapped in the game of samsara. And like a line from the Eagles song, Hotel California, “You can check-out any time you like but you can never leave!”

Our death is the check-out. The player leaves the avatar body and enters the womb of some creature or stays in a kind of heaven or hell for a certain amount of time. But the player can never leave the game. But emancipation (vimukti) is always possible but seldom actualized except in the case of Buddhas.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

The Zennist

Author of The Zennist blog since 2007.