Thursday, February 21, 2008

Video games, spiritual progress?

While in Boston and waiting for chinese food, I spotted an issue of "Kabbalah Today" (the link is to the exact issue I am talking about). I picked it up and decided it would be great reading for the car. Anyway, the front page article "Better than the virtual world" really caught my attention (that and "cracking the happiness code" but thats for a later post). According to the article entering the virtual world is infact a spiritual progress for mankind.

The article explains that people seek alternate realities due to their hard and wearisome lives. This is in a form a "Second Life." The article continues by saying how according to Kabbalah the "Second Life" is not coincidental to the realities of the world. It is because more and more people have access to more and more information, required for work, and very stressful to constantly keep attaining, the "Second Life" is a haven from all this. According to the Kabbalah (or atleast what the article says is Kabbalah), this "Second Life" is not a bad phenomena. Infact, this "Second Life" is actually not a bad "prelude" to the "next step" for humanity.

According to the article, the concept of the virtual world shows that people are becoming more aware of their unphysical selves. As in they are really recognizing their spiritual selves by participating in the virtual world. This participation shows that people are infact slowly progressing to a possible fully spiritual world. The virtual world allows us to be in contact with people from a totally different part of the world, something that is impossible to do in the non-virtual sense. The reason why this is a good prelude to the fully spiritual world, is because we will slowly realize that the virtual world is not enough to fulfill us spiritually anymore, and we will eventually seek a fully spiritual existence.

"Kabbalists explain that as soon as we commence on our spiritual path, we will discover an abundance of Light that shines brighter than any high-resolution hue. But this Light won’t flicker briefly on the computer screen and then disappear when you go back to “real life.” It will be Real Life—one that’s endlessly filled with the Light of eternity and perfection"

Honestly, this type of stuff makes me a bit skeptical. For two reasons, the first, is that many years ago when I was first introduced to the game Sims (awesome game !!) I was a little brat in class. I used to tell my teachers that "Sims teaches a good lesson. As a good Sim family creator, you only have the Sims best interest at heart, but sometimes the Sims don't listen to the commands you give them, and they end up throwing fits, and they find themselves smelly (peed in pants), dirty, unemployed and in a terrible fight with a spouse/girlfriend. However, if they just listened to my commandments, they'd be alot better off...Same with Jews and Hashem." And I would go on and on to waste class time, and to annoy my teachers (because that really is a wise ass type of thing to So, the reason this makes me skeptical, is because it reminds me very much of my own "struggle" for the approval of video games and such. While I did it to irritate teachers, its very possible these guys are doing it to irritate some rabbinic figure (either way, I love the argument).

The second thing that makes me skeptical of this article, is the exact same thing that makes me skeptical of the newspaper as a whole. I cannot figure out what "denomination" of Jewry these guys are standing from. They can be targetting converts from the Modonna fan club, or they can really be legit (after all, I did get this at a Glatt Kosher restuarant), but I cannot find out where this stuff is...I probably just didn't do a fabulous job searching.

Anyway, I find this type of stuff very interesting, so I thought I'd share. :)


The Babysitter said...

That's interesting. I'm not sure what I think about the virtual world yet, if it helps spiritually or not, cause I never thought of such a thing.

I was watching some sims youtube vids, their so cute, then I heard that there's a game of it. I would love to play it. But I don't have video games or any of that stuff.

frumskeptic said...

I played Sims on the computer. so for your bday u should totally go out and buy yourself the game (make sure its Sims 2) :). lol. however, do NOT under any circumstances buy it if you know you will be busy...cuz the game is super addictive. lol. :)

The Babysitter said...

o, cool, yay now I know what I want for my afikoman present! lol

Jessica said...

I fail to see the connection between the virtual world and the spiritual world, but an interesting article and blog post nonetheless.

Jessica said...

and by "blog", I meant "post".

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Thank you for telling us about that article, that's really a pretty deep idea to ponder. And one thing for sure; they're not speaking in defense of video games, they're saying that this and other forms of escapism can lead un-G-dly people to ponder their transcendental side a little more. But no one said video games are any good, quite the contrary; they substitute their crummy earthly lives for even more earthly lives.

[As an aside; my brother has been trying to get me to watch 'the Matrix' movie for years, and so I just watched it recently, and it's focus is mainly on this topic. I personally have always spent a lot of time thinking about this sort of stuff; existence, existentialism, what it means to exist, to attempt to escape from existence.

Torah for example; in the 'litvish' world Torah is sort of like a form of escapism. But it's an awkward form, being that it is really discussing the intricateness of reality. But that is not Torah (or all thoughtful-knowledge), the point is obviously to properly exist in, and embrace yet, the true nature, and earthiness of reality. It can perhaps be said that that is one great difference between our Jewish, and Jewish based (Christianity, Islam, Sikhism etc.) religions, and eastern religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc.)- their religions are about transcending reality, not living it. Which is why Western man has embraced them so in the past decades (because their lives suck)! I would conclude with; "that's why kabbala has it's source in the eastern religions and it was never a part of 'Talmudic' Judaism", but that's far from simple (far from true perhaps also), what I will say though, is- צריך עיון(more research needs to be done).]

Moshe said...

I think WOW is a lot better at preparing us for the next world, it has a lot more of "spiritual" things than Second Life. Flying versus spell-casting and enchanting, is that even a question?!