When I was a young child, one of the games I used to enjoy playing was a board game called Snakes and Ladders. It’s actually still available to this day. It consists of a board with horizontal squares numbered 1 to 100; beginning in the bottom left corner. The objective of the game is very simple: A player wins by being the first to land his/her gamepiece at the square marked 100. Players take turns rolling a die and advance their gamepiece accordingly. If players land on a ladder, they can scoot upward; conversely, if they land on a snake they must slither downward. So, what’s the point?
What I didn’t realize until recently is that this simple game is based on an ancient board game from India called Moksha Patam. Moksha, for those who may be unfamiliar with the term, means to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death. This occurs through enlightenment; a term which refers to the recognition of True Self (which is Spirit) and, thus, the falsity of the conceptual person. The game was originally intended to help teach basic lessons regarding morality and how to better live with one another. The ladder represents our noble qualities–such as love, compassion, kindness, generosity, and empathy. The snake represents our ignoble instincts–such as lust, greed, anger, selfishness, and hatred.
On a human–grown up–level, we can still learn many valuable lessons through analogy of our life and the game of Snakes and Ladders. It reminds us to be aware, especially with regard to our thoughts, speech, and actions; for these are building our character and, thus, creating our destiny. If we allow our life to be driven by our little egoic “i,” we are certain to lose; for a self-centered cannot help anyone win. Such will be a shallow life, to say the least; one lacking the depth and richness that ultimately makes life worth living. To truly win, we are wise to apply ourselves to helping others climb their way to success. In effect we, thereby, become the ladder for their ascension and let our life stand humbly in the background. Sweet idea, isn’t it? Even better lived.
Dare to dream (and care for one another).
With heartfelt regards,
Copyright © – 2020–R. Arthur Russell
P.S. If you’d like to view my latest book (This Taste of Flesh and Bones–released September 8, 2020) please press here. Thanks for reading!