The Game

An excerpt from "Journey of Your Soul"

The Tao plays on the seven planes of being. The physical plane is the first. Since the Tao is whole, in and of itself, it must have a playground that is not complete so it can have the opportunity to do something. What is whole is in a state of equilibrium; it takes imbalance or incompleteness for there to be movement. For example, when you walk, you are off balance, falling forward, much of the time; when you are sitting, you are in balance.

The point of playing a game is not to complete it as quickly as possible. If that were your attitude, you would not begin it in the first place. You play because you want to play. While it would be a bit much if the game never ended, you enjoy its duration. In fact, without an end, it would have no shape, so it would not be a game.

As part of the Tao, we are all playing a vast game, and smaller games within the game. Each has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You could say that the smallest game on the physical plane is a single day. There are various larger games that can take any number of day-long games to play. You could see every lifetime as a single game as well it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Some feel that the end comes too quickly. If you are playing “The Price Is Right” and the bell rings before you win the trip to Hawaii, that is the game! If you were always sure how the game would turn out, you would have no motivation to play it. But there is always another game.

You choose the rules and parameters of the games you play. This universe is a playing board, containing infinite smaller boards, and all the beings of the Tao who play on it agree to its parameters. Those who play on earth help create its parameters and agree to play within them. The game is not always easy, but it is ultimately fair, in spite of apparent unfairness along the way, because everyone is playing by the same rules.

The object of the largest game is total wholeness. Everyone will, at the end of it, reach this goal. In other words, every­one will be completely reabsorbed back into the Tao when he finishes the game. If you were to reach the goal now, you would miss most of the game.

Each of the smaller games within the larger game has its own object. For example, in every lifetime you set a life task or goal and see if you can achieve it, or how much of it you can achieve. You are not, in any of these games, competing against anyone. The whole idea of competition in this regard is illogical. The Tao is ultimate wholeness. As part of the Tao, you are part of what is whole; you are in the universe “pretending” that you are not whole so you can have new experiences and expand your wholeness. But since you are part of perfect wholeness, how could there be competition? How can you compete when there is really only one thing?

Here is an apparent paradox. You are individual. You have a separate physical body, yet what really divides you from others? Can you really be divided from others? Could you exist without the presence of other human beings? Where does the skin of your body end and the air next to it begin? There is no space between the skin and the air. The most external molecule of your skin is adjacent to a molecule of air. On the molecular level, their forms are only slightly different; they are made from the same elemental substance, expressed a little differently. It is rather like one color in a rainbow being adjacent to the next. If you move your awareness away from your skin through the molecules of air, you find the Tao in a slightly dif­ferent shape again when you encounter another person more skin molecules. Conveniently for you, the air molecules are transparent and lightweight. This allows the game piece that is your body to have flexibility of movement, which makes the game more fun on this planet.

The movement of your game piece moves the air and affects the other game pieces, and vice versa-in other words, you affect others, and they affect you. However, you are not in competition with anyone. During the game of life on the physical plane, you may think it is about “me against them,” or “our team versus theirs.” Apparent competition can sometimes challenge you to play your best, but when the game is over, everyone goes back to the same locker room.

You do not need competition with others to challenge you. You can “compete against yourself,” as they say, which is not really competition, because when you win, nothing loses; it is seeking the highest possible attainment, or perfection, for its own sake. It is not a contradiction to seek perfection without being a perfectionist, without trying to have total perfection now. As with wholeness, total perfection exists only in the Tao, but the goal of perfection can motivate you to play the game as well as you can.

Many people play the game unconsciously. Let’s say that you are competing in the Olympics in track. Track is a good example, because it is an individual sport and is not actually competitive, except in scoring the activities are not in opposition to other players. In any case, you are not going to do the pole vault as well as you otherwise would if you are drunk. You might learn some things about it from attempting it drunk, but you are likely to ram into the crossbar. That is rather like playing the game unconsciously, without having your full faculties of alertness available. Often people’s goal is to sleep as peacefully through the game as possible, occasionally using external substances to that end. Those who rock the boat are not usually welcome, because it makes too much noise when people are trying to sleep!

However, more and more people are realizing that they are playing a game. When that occurs, two things happen. One is that you play the game more seriously. The other is that you take the game less seriously: it matters, but it does not. This perspective allows you to gain detachment and the ability to accept things as they are. You cannot do anything about the present score of the game that is the way things are but you can play your best game now. No one other than you is keeping score, but there are times when the game seems to be going better than others. There are days when you feel well and there are days when you do not. There are days when you win the lottery and days when you lose your job, but such events do not constitute winning or losing of themselves. Eventually, you win every game. How and when cannot be foretold, and even if it could be, we would not want to spoil it for you! But you cannot lose. There is nothing to lose you are already indivisible from the Tao; you are joined to all things. Winning a particular game is reawakening to that within a specific context through achieving understanding, joy, and love.

When you feel poorly in one way or another, you are being given information on how to play the game more skillfully. If you have pain, you are being told that you are not playing the game in such a way as to bring pleasure. The pain is important, but it is not the point; it is simply information. Let’s say that you are driving your car and you are not fully alert. You have an accident, and you are in the hospital as a result. Your pain gives you a vital piece of information. We do not make light of suffering, but if you felt euphoria instead, it would be confusing, wouldn’t it? It would be telling you that when you play the game less well, you feel wonderful. So pain is valuable from this standpoint. You might say it is the inner scorecard. You are not necessarily playing the game poorly if you are experiencing pain; in fact, sometimes pain increases when you are healing because buried problems come to the surface. But pain does give you information that, by its very nature, helps you be aware of how you can improve your game. Its presence tells you of disharmony. When you increase harmony, you ultimately reduce pain, which shows you that you are moving in the right direction. So the more you accept pain, the more quickly you benefit from it.

If the Tao is complete, why does it want to play the game?

Completeness and incompleteness are two ends of one stick. Let’s say that you build models and you have completed one. You might call that completeness perfection. All the pieces are now together and you know everything you want to know about it from having gone through the process of constructing it. You may then wish to embark on a new model, something different that teaches you things you could not have learned from the previous model. The new model is incomplete, not whole, but as you work on it, it is moving toward completion or perfection. Every time you complete a new model, you have expanded yourself.

The Tao is the part of all of us that has assimilated the lessons of the previous model, you might say. It is whole and complete of itself. But there are an infinite number of new models to build, and each one is potentially more sophisticated than the last. All your experiences are new ones for the Tao. Their exact conditions have never existed before and never will again.

The completeness of the Tao is one end of the stick; the in­completeness of the universe is the other. Together they balance one another and allow for orderly progression. Everything springs from the Tao. If the Tao were not complete, there would be no stable foundation from which the incompleteness of the universe could spring, ultimately bringing a larger completeness. It is like a gymnast having an internal state of balance, allowing him to be unbalanced externally and bring new movement into that balance.

You are a dynamic part of the Tao. You are responsible for the Tao’s expansion. You are not an imperfect little twerp crawling back to the Tao on your hands and knees, hoping that when you get there, the Wizard will open the door and let you in. You are the means by which the All extends its completeness. New games allow for new understandings and different types of creativity. The Tao is the creator. Any artist seeks new forms of self-expression. If this is true of an individual, how much truer is it of the core creator? Being the All That Is without an opportunity to express itself would be like being a king with no kingdom; he would just sit in his castle. It would be boring for the Tao to stay the same for eternity. The universe is the way the Tao expresses itself and thereby avoids the boredom of “early retirement.”

All things have consciousness, and all consciousness is expanding, even the consciousness of a blade of grass. By being what it is, it is becoming more. At some point, it can express itself in larger ways, in slightly more sophisticated forms.

Virtually all people are at least partly asleep, functional but not fully aware. Awakening sleeping aspects of yourself is part of the game you are playing now. Living life while not fully awake is rather like trying to do the pole vault drunk, or with your legs tied together, which would be quite a challenge. If you can do anything at all with your legs tied together, you would be able to do much more once you untie your legs. Sometimes athletes train in this way: they limit themselves to make themselves stronger. Actors do a similar exercise when they place marbles in their mouths and learn to speak beautifully with that limitation. When they remove the marbles, it seems much easier to speak with excellent diction.

Illusion and false personality are what cause consciousness to sleep. They function like marbles in the mouth for the actor and ropes around the legs for the pole vaulter they make it harder to play the game. But the process of experiencing and then lessening and removing them strengthens the ability to play the game. The ultimate object of the game is agape [see Glossary], or unconditional love. Playing the game expands the Tao, which is love, by giving it more opportunities for self-discovery. Encasing yourself in greed, stubbornness, or another fear-based pattern, and getting out of it, like Houdini get­ting out of a box at the bottom of a pool, gives you more con­sciousness of agape because you have vividly experienced what it is not. Expansion occurs through actions motivated by love, but the experience of being motivated by fear is not wasted-it contributes to your knowledge of love. You experience as much fear as you need to in order to see it clearly and awaken to love. Once you “get it,” you tran­scend the polarity of love and fear; nei­ther is an issue. You develop the capacity to simply be.

The game we play on the causal plane is not mostly about polarities such as love and fear, or positive and negative. We have already played that game, and have integrated both positive and negative into our consciousness. We therefore transcend polarities and almost completely experience the essence of things. You usually do not complete lessons about polarities on the physical plane. You continue them through the upper astral, where a new game begins. You could not begin a new game if you had not played the previous one.

Although the Tao has no beginning or ending as you think of them, you could say that in the beginning, the Tao built and completed one model. By now, it has completed several models. This universe is its current project. The Tao may later decide to do something other than building models. What that might be is be­yond our ability to conceive, but it is the nature of a creator to create. How can a creator not create? To create is its very nature. At our core, we are each a part of the creator. We are also part of the creation. The part of us that is part of the creation is the new part that is incomplete. It is becoming complete through the creator part of us playing the game.

Everything you create teaches you something about yourself, because a part of you that was previously merely potential is now reality, and you can see it. It is not merely a possibility or even a probability it is there. When it is complete to your satisfaction, you can move on and create something else, building on your previous creation.

In playing the game, you draw from an infinite pool of possibilities. The way you play the game impacts which of those possibilities become probabilities, and which of those probabilities become realities. If the game you are playing is not as much fun at the moment as you would like, bear in mind that it keeps moving and changing. As you play the game the best you can now, you increase your pleasure and joy. When you play the game well, it feels good. Good feelings are not always immediate upon having played a good game, but they are inevitable. The better you get at the game, the more fun you have. This is partly why it pays to be on a true spiritual path; it helps you learn the rules of the game.

So have fun. Enjoy the game!

About Shepherd Hoodwin

Shepherd has been channeling since 1986. He also does intuitive readings, mediumship, past-life regression, healing, counseling, and channeling coaching, where he teaches others to channel. He has conducted workshops on the Michael teachings throughout the United States. His other books include Enlightenment for Nitwits, Loving from Your Soul: Creating Powerful Relationships, Meditations for Self-Discovery, Opening to Healing, Growing Through Joy, Being in the World, and more to come.

Visit his website at

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