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Some notes on 'The Master Game' - from a book of that name by Robert de Ropp (1968) - quotes are both direct and paraphrased:

'…It has been stated by Thomas Szasz that what people really need and demand from life is not wealth, comfort or esteem but GAMES WORTH PLAYING. He who cannot find a game worth playing is apt to fall prey to accidie - a paralysis of the will, a failure of the appetite, a condition of generalised boredom, total disenchantment: "…how weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!" Such a state of mind, Szasz tells us, is a prelude to what is loosely called "mental illness," which, though Szasz defines this illness as a myth, nevertheless fills half the beds in hospitals and makes multitudes of people a burden to themselves and society.'

'Seek, above all, for a game worth playing. Such is the advice of the oracle to modern man. Having found the game, play it with intensity - play it as if your life and sanity depended on it. (They do depend on it.) Follow the example of the French existentialists and flourish a banner bearing the word "engagement". Though nothing means
anything and all roads are marked "NO EXIT," yet move as if your movements had some purpose. If life does not seem to offer a game worth playing, then invent one. For it must be clear, even to the most clouded intelligence, that any game is better than no game.'

A description of what constitutes a game follows, then a categorisation of the two divergent kinds of game, defined as Object games and Meta games. Which of these suits you, depends on the type of person you are and on your level of inner development. Object games are those played for the attainment of material things, primarily money and what it can buy. Meta games are played for intangibles such as knowledge or "salvation of the soul". In our culture, object games predominate. In earlier cultures it was meta games. To players of meta games, object games seem shallow and futile, while to players of object games, meta games seem fuzzy and ill-defined. The whole human population can be divided roughly into these two groups of players, the Prosperos and the Calibans. The two have never understood one another, and probably never will. They are, psychologically speaking, different species of Man and their conflicts throughout the ages have added greatly to the sum of human misery.


Master game - awakening
Religion game - salvation
Science game - knowledge
Art game - beauty


Hog in trough - wealth
Cock on Dunghill - fame
Moloch game - glory or victory

All this presents yet another angle on our situation in the world - one that, whether it previously occurred to us or not, we all surely recognise. I discovered this 250-page book back in the mid eighties and found it impressive, especially the opening chapter, the beginning of which I've summarised above. It seems to explain so much. But what can we learn from it - if, that is, we accept its premise, the principles it asserts, and the implications?

Having read, and understood (at least on the surface) 'The Master Game', however, I don't altogether subscribe to its philosophy - though I do acknowledge that it may well be entirely positive and beneficial in every way. My own make-up, background and experience - which is predominately western - doesn't allow me to easily acclimatise to either its analyses or proposals. It presents a powerful argument though, and one that can't be refuted.

For instance, to take something topical, here's what it says of the Moloch Game:

"This is the deadliest of all games, played for glory or victory by various grades of professional mankillers [who] regard such killing as credible provided those they kill favour a different religion or political system and can thus be collectively referred to as 'the enemy'. Moloch Game is a purely human game. Other mammals, though they fight with members of their own species, observe a certain moderation and rarely fight to the death. But the players of the Moloch Game have no moderation. Lured on by some glittering dream of glory or power, they kill with boundless enthusiasm, destroying whole cities, devastating whole countries. The game is played so passionately and with such abandon that nothing, neither pity, decency, sympathy or even common sense, is allowed to interfere with the destructive orgy. As devotees of the god Moloch sacrificed their children to the idol, so the players of the Moloch Game sacrifice the lives of thousands of young men in the name of some glittering abstraction (formerly 'glory', now more generally 'defence')… But so great is the power wielded by the players of this game, exerted through various forms of coercion and blackmail, that the thousands of young men involved make little protest. They 'go to their graves like beds,' not daring to expose the emptiness of the glittering words on which the Moloch Game is based…. Players of the Moloch Game may wade in blood up to the ears only to find that the victory or glory for which they sacrificed a million lives are empty words, like richly bedizened whores who lure…. So warped, however, are the standards by which men measure criminality that players of these games (wealth, and victory) are more apt to be regarded as 'pillars of society' than dangerous lunatics who should be exiled to remote islands where they can do no harm to themselves or others."

Well, I guess that says enough.

As I've quoted elsewhere, it has been shown that one in twenty of humankind belong to the dominant type. Since the world is overwhelmingly controlled by this 5%, this means that through their material wealth they must have blinded, bribed and otherwise tricked many others into adopting their standpoint. This is evident from the fact that the majority live on less than a dollar a day while the few who profit from them own billions of dollars. The world seems to tremble under the weight of it. But if everyone recognised their authentic selves, and altered their game according to their true type, then the hospitals would be half empty, wars would be impossible, pollution would plummet - many more of us would savour and treasure those precious moments and artifacts that make life truly worthwhile - and the world would cease to tremble: reprieved, hopefully, from an otherwise imminent Armageddon.

But alas, that is a dream. The reality is that people are more closely related in their behaviour to ostriches and lemmings than they would like to believe - and the world therefore avalanches towards oblivion (at least, oblivion so far as humans are concerned, and probably most other mammals too).

Another aspect of the problem is that those who do play the wrong game, and thereby betray their nature, must inevitably suffer - as would anyone acting out-of-step with their authentic selves and conscience. Probably their lives are obscurely permeated with a sense of something missing, something wrong, of some mysterious un-fulfilment, of at best a vague perplexing futility. If there's any truth in this, and if we do seek contentment, then maybe we should first ensure we are playing the correct game. Which is yours?
(Mine's Idling!)

And Another Thing….>>