The past several days an old feeling has arisen that I haven't had since I was young. I've always had an interest in fantasy and scifi even to this day. In my youth though I would spend hours immersed in fantasy worlds, not only reading stories but in D&D creating characters, stories and whole worlds. Anyway I'm feeling that same sort of desire to stick my head in rule books or a fantasy video game in the same way and spend all my free time somewhere else. I can imagine being immersed and enjoying myself. However, my time in spiritual practice has taught me that there is no real happiness involved within, only a greater desire for more. So I don't really want to get involved again.
What I'm really wondering though is if this is a passing feeling brought up by some external factors or if I've peeled back some layers and am touching some sort of deep feeling. The difference being the former will pass on its own without having to pay it much mind. While the latter involves some deeper searching and sitting to fully see it and be able to let it go. I'm hoping there might be some insight that can be shared as to how I can tell the difference.
I can imagine being immersed and enjoying myself. However, my time in spiritual practice has taught me that there is no real happiness involved within, only a greater desire for more. So I don't really want to get involved again.
The problem is that the activity is indeed "enjoyable" and the drawbacks are not enough to give it up. Feels better than being "bored". You don't get to uproot desire/greed until you are advanced in your practice(non-returner).
No easy answers I'm afraid.
From one zafu...
The idea that anything is strictly external or internal is just an insecure ego habitually dividing up everything between an imaginary self and everything else. (at least on my mat)
From the perspective of practice, there is no real inside that is separated from what's outside or vice versa.
We either have habituated responses to phenomena that provide momentum to our identity with its selective storyline about its own fiefdom that we inevitably suffer with or to the degree that we stop editing our habituated responses to phenomena, is the degree to which we allow for an equal degree of awakening from that dreamscape and suffering's cause .
Step one. Address this feeling by facing it directly. Do so while also giving equal attention to all your other sense gates. Do so without trying to acquire anything in that process. Do this where ever you are. If you can allow it to arise without grasping after it, or trying to get away from it, or attempting to ignore it.....then what you formally feared was an obstacle becomes the teaching that you needed.
Tsk, tsk. You used to be human?
Once upon a time ... roll 8 sided dice
You take out your longsword +3 vorpal blade and use it to slice yourself free...
I have the same thing from time to time, I also used to play D&D and read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy in my teens... it’s like something exuberant, youthful and playful rears it’s head when the urge strikes me. I’ve thought about creating a D&D campaign based on the Dharma, which would be kind of fun.
I see it as something relatively harmless, much like wanting to reread a favourite book or wanting to visit a bookstore to browse. Which is why I embrace it as a fun and enjoyable part of my past, without giving it too much weight as a craving.
But your experience may be different, you may wish to examine it meditatively. I would do so with care and love and respect, because it’s a happy part of your childhood. You may find that life is currently difficult enough that you want to revisit those good times, and that that is why the urge is manifesting.
I play some fantasy video games including ones based on DnD. You don't want to get consumed and spending too much time on such things. But I don't think it is any worse than reading fiction. I believe you can do study and meditation but still do things that are joyful in their own right yet not related to the dharma.
Maybe I'm an addict. I don't seem to be able to do this sort of thing "a little bit".
Maybe. May be knot.
What would @person Wizard do?
You find a recipe book. Do you cook your former self or do they cook you? Role the bones ...
@person I've been reading a book about working with patients or friends with dementia and it talks about the relationship both parties having needs. So a different situation than with video games because it's a relationship between two people. But maybe the idea of addressing needs is pertinent. In the book was an example (not related to dementia) of a mother who smoked cigarettes while raising three children including one with a handicap. She thought that the cigarettes were the need but really it was a need for peace, quiet, getting space outdoors.
So with this technique it's important to identify the human need underneath a particular way of attaining that need. And that there could be many many ways to satisfy our needs if we get creative.
So like you say it could be a passing feeling. Like I have dreams sometimes of trying to obtain pot or alcohol and I haven't used those in a long time. I think these are just kind of random feelings that would pass away. But I think to myself that maybe I have a longing to have a sense of euphoria that I can meet a different way. Or maybe thinking to myself I cannot really think of a substitute to those substances but even though I cannot meet that need exactly it feels good to understand why I would wish to even though I'm going to choose to keep my life without those substances.
So if you cannot get immersed in a fantasy world of your creation maybe you can try and think about what you like about being immersed like that. And maybe understand it or possibly even you can meet that need in a way or small way that doesn't sacrifice your skillful happiness or practice of Buddhism? Or maybe just understanding it will feel better even if you choose to avoid immersing and devoting so much time?
My winter work schedule tends to be slower so I'm confronting some level of boredom and this was a way I would spend time in the past.
I've been considering joining a climbing gym for the next couple months, another enjoyment of mine from my youth. That strikes me as being a more wholesome activity.
After a while in practice, its nigh impossible to find anyone who isn't addicted to something. The luckiest addicts are the ones whose form of addiction happens to be both commonplace and socially acceptable. In todays world, a photon addiction would be a good example of this. Don't believe me....Just imagine how many of the worlds population would get twisted out of shape if every source of light on every screen stopped working for a week.
If you are wondering if a photon addiction happens to be your Achilles heal, just watch how you react when someone deliberately interrupts or limits you when you're amidst this particular indulgence.
If you see that your internal reaction to it being interrupted is one of annoyance then then you can add photon addiction to that list of what primarily limits your spiritual freedom.
If your addiction turned out to not be related to a sight based stimulation, then it will be something related to sound or scent or taste or feelings or a particular mentality. While most folks will have also have secondary addictions, there is usually one which is our first "go to position" whenever we are unable to fully accept exactly where we are.
The most reliable solution that I have found with my own photon addiction simply depends on my moment to moment awareness to not empower my visual inputs into dominating over what I am also hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling or thinking.
I think of an addiction as that inherent imbalance in the data feeds from what my eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind receives and a lack of addiction is where all the data feeds are being given equal air time.
The downside of viewing it this way is understanding that you maybe always be susceptible to this particular sirens call.
The upside of viewing it this way is that it entirely makes you responsible in each moment for whether you will continue being subject to it or not.
It’s not so bad... it’s still creative activity, which is better than being addicted to something like alcohol. Perhaps your mind needs to let off some steam away from the Dharma.
It strikes me @person that this is a rather similar urge to what I was describing here
I ended up coming to the conclusion that the world is a more magical place than I have been giving it credit for, for a long time. That science had come pretty close to killing my sense of the mysterious or the magical.
Somebody needs to read more Carl Sagan.
@Person I've found I have to ask myself that question when I get too into Star Trek.
Carl Sagan is great...
I came across a DnD group who live streams their sessions called Critical Role. The ones posted on You Tube have several million views and their first campaign is being made into an animated series.
It's been fun to watch, they seem like well adjusted people. Not the sweaty, repressed nerds I'm used to associating table top gaming with.
There's a gaming store near me, I'm thinking of going in and wasting some money on some of the rule books and seeing if they have any gaming groups I could try out.
I don't know if I'm scratching an itch, feeding a beast or filling a need for connection with people that share some of my interests. I haven't had much luck feeling at home with Buddhist groups. No offense to anyone here but they seem to be made up mainly of hippies and progressive, urban, professionals (puppies). One on one I can get along with most people, but in groups I just don't feel at home.
But I don't know if this is really me anymore and it feels sort of like a solely self centered pursuit. Spending my mental energies on learning about the real world of ideas and developing my own sovereignty, rather than a fictional one, feels like developing and acquiring a set of tools that can be used to direct the flow of the world around me in a more wholesome, positive direction. Sort of a LARPer (live action role playing) magician.
I did that a while ago, I used Meetup (an app for finding and meeting groups of people with similar interests) to find some local adult role-playing gamers, and spent a very pleasant couple of afternoons playing some loose adventures. It was good fun, but it ended up being in Amsterdam, which is 45 minutes away by train. I wish you a lot of fun with it.
I did some online role playing where you decide your actions in text on a forum and roll dice with a tool so it's not cheated. The problem was every single time half or all of the people would bail out on the game usually because they were students and needed to study. But had a little fun making a character and playing at least until the game ended when everyone bailed out.
There isn't any in person gaming at the game store right now with covid. There does seem to be some online opportunities.
I'm having sort of mixed feelings immersing myself. On the one hand its pleasantly engrossing and unexpectedly producing feelings of heartfulness and positivity in me. Perhaps reviving some old memories around it. On the other it feels fairly meaningless and fruitless. But on the third hand I engage in other meaningless and fruitless activities and I think that this is engaging more wholesome parts of my brain. Creativity and imagination vs the sort of dopamine reward center that much of video games activate. Or its a more engaged activity rather than the passivity of TV and movies.
It's interesting seeing how my mind engages with this. It's making me aware of ways that I've changed over the years. Spending time on forums and watching YouTube channels there is a big focus on optimizing characters and what the correct rules are to follow. I think that is where my interest was in the past, on the strategy game aspect of it. Now that all seems fairly boring to me, what grabs my interest and seems challenging to me is the role playing or character development aspect of the game. I imagine it's much like an actor or a writer would think about their characters, where do they come from? How did life experiences shape them and affect their attitudes today? Where are they going in the future?
I haven't actually gamed yet. I needed to get a webcam and microphone, those just arrived this week so we'll see how long it takes to overcome whatever hesitancy I have. There are more roleplaying focused groups. Many there seem to be theater types and I have no experience with that so I feel pretty out of my element thinking about joining there.
Maybe you could role play an esoteric satanist?
Tee hee. I iz bad ...
I should see if I can find a game where I can play a homebrewed character race of humanoid lobster.😀
You’d have to come up with a fairly esoteric backstory... perhaps he was descended from a lobster race who had been experimented upon by a wizard, and he had achieved sentience and telepathy.
There is some potential here. I can see a character arc along the lines of Edward Scissorhands. He doesn't fit in the world with only claws but eventually finds how his claws allows him to contribute in unique and unexpected ways.
Perhaps his greatest wish might be to have a human face, with which to speak and emote. His dark side might be a case of human envy, as with the wizard who uplifted him, and he struggles with concepts of love, being only recently sentient.
And then if the humanoid lobster character is played by a "power gamer" role player gamer then actually they have no interest in the psyche and motivations of this character but they only chose it for the minor bonus to armor rating and the claw attacks hehe. Power gamers are pretty common in role playing games and they sometimes contrast and have different motivations than the role players type players.
Yes indeed, power gamers have taken over the world, they try to analyse and optimise to the tiniest little detail all the aspects of play. That’s rampant in computer games too...
There is a large focus on character optimization, on sort of figuring out all the rules of the system and working them to their maximum advantage. Like I said earlier, I find that rather boring these days, it can be done and I will take some benefit from them. Its really a diverse sort of game though and how it is played really depends on what the people at any particular table want out of it. There is a segment of the community that is focused on role play and offer lots of practical tips to flesh out a personality and motivation as well as voice acting or how to play nice with others to help build a story collaboratively.
For example, to spice up our humanoid lobster character a simple technique would be to take some examples from someone in a movie or real life. Like we could lovingly take our own were-crustacean @lobster and say our fictional character, being new to the world of sentience, speaks mainly in colorful metaphors, vague riddles and abstractions. 🙂
Anyway, I've signed up for a single game this week. We'll see how it goes and if I'll feel like joining an ongoing weekly group.
We will of course expect a full report @person
@person said: ...Like we could lovingly take our own were-crustacean @lobster and say our fictional character, being new to the world of sentience, speaks mainly in colorful metaphors, vague riddles and abstractions.
Do it. Do it just for the helluv it...
... oh well
In the most recent edition the character classes all come with several subclass options, and there are a few designed to be peaceful. The "Oath of Redemption" Paladin vows to use violence as a last resort. The "Way of Mercy" Monk class, Cleric domains of peace or life, Druids have always been able to be played peacefully. Not as explicitly non violent are maybe the abjuration (protection spells) wizard, the bardic colleges of Creation or Eloquence, and the "Investigative" rogue (which is inspired by Sherlock Holmes or Patrick Jane).
There are enough classes to make a well balanced, yet peaceful party. It would still take a dungeon master to create a campaign suitable.
I just had the thought, what would Buddhist ethics be regarding some of the fantasy elements from the game, real and truly irredeemable evil exists in those worlds. Is killing a zombie or a demon alright?
Not so easy to make that campaign and still provide a measure of challenge and excitement, the adrenaline in D&D mostly comes from situations of peril. I suppose you could make puzzles and some encounters meant to be solved by the player’s peaceful powers.
It would probably have to be a heavy role play campaign. Perhaps they could be aid workers and they'd have to resolve how to help people and fix the underlying problems. Like securing resources, negotiating resettlement, uncovering corruption.
Good idea. You could throw in a bit of private investigation à la Chinatown (which was all about water, a universal theme), and make it about a series of connected conundrums, each of which has different priorities and ways of resolving it. As you get deeper in you meet more intractable problems of the community... let it go, it’s Chinatown, jake.
Lots of inspiration you could draw from movies, although you’d have to be careful not to turn it into a pastiche where the sources are too easily recognised.
I asked about a pacifist campaign on a forum and a couple things stood out to me. One, maybe a different gaming system would work better, there are some that are more skills and role play based, even though it could be done D&D is fairly focused around combat.
Two, a question people asked was if non sentient creatures would be fair game for combat scenarios (certain undead, magical constructs like golems, plants, fungus or oozes that can be deadly.
I remember tinkering with a system called Ars Magica that was rather popular for a while, it was about magicians in the Middle Ages, it went really deep into history and what things were like back then. I designed quite a decent campaign, which I unfortunately never got to play with a group, fellow role-players being somewhat rare. But that system was much more about collaborative role playing than power gaming.
But I think non-sentient enemies would totally be fair game in a pacifist campaign. I once came across a Clockmaker class in an expansion module which was able to make advanced clockwork constructs. I think also you could structure some interesting play around the Planes and the meaning of death, and creatures from those kind of places who can be defeated but not really killed.
It was fun. It was a little awkward finding my feet, but I could relate to the people and the activity. At times I was into it and at other times I felt like I'm past this sort of make believe, kind of an eye rolling type of feeling or looking around to make sure no one is watching me do this.
I was actually kind of impressed with the online tools available now. The ability to make interactive maps that change with the characters, sound effects, music, character helpers all working pretty seamlessly.
I think I'll give it some more time. I appreciate the ability to socialize with like minded people over an activity we all enjoy. And as I talked about above the style of idle activity I feel is more creative and developing a character gives a fun incentive to better understand varied human psychology.
Maybe this is something for you, a VR-assisted take on D&D called Demeo…
I imagine this sort of thing will eventually make its way into the online tabletop gaming world. There is one VTT (virtual table top) that uses 3D images on top of a virtual table but apparently it is pretty difficult to use. Most of the VTTs in use are fairly simple graphically and instead focus on adaptability and creation for its users. The lighting moves with your characters tokens (they are in the lighted area just inside the cave) so you can only see the parts they would be able to see, so the shadowed area would actually be black.
But really what Demeo lacks is the human roleplaying element. That's what I've been enjoying the most. When you continue session after session with the same character you can develop a personality. For example I'm playing a barbarian, but he grew up as a street urchin, so he knows nothing about the tribal, nature aspect of barbarian tribes. There is a druid in the party and I've been playing he is learning things from him and turns to him to explain natural or unnatural phenomenon such as undead, I can also play up how unnerving they are to him. Or gaining the ability to speak to animals. None of that kind of stuff exists in the mechanics of video games. I enjoy the strategy of the combat aspect of the game but been there done that, it isn't that challenging or memorable.
One of my fellow players is playing a kobold, they're sort of less than a meter tall humanoid dragons, but very weak. In the game we're playing we encountered a young dragon, which was way too powerful for us. There were some newly arrived dragon cultists nearby, he convinced them that the dragon sent him to collect tribute. He then brought the tribute to the dragon asking him to move to a ruined castle nearby where goblins had kidnapped someone we needed to rescue. He got the dragon to agree if we cleared out the castle first and the kobold player recruited the cultists to help. In the end we got help with a difficult task and were able to acquire some of the dragon's treasure as a reward when we never could have otherwise. All this was possible because a player was creative and clever and the game was run by a human being who could process and adapt the game in this unexpected way. And there were lots of good jokes and laughs in the process.