Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Tetris of the Mind

The Tetris of the Mind

Most of us at one time or another would have played the game called Tetris before. Tetris is one of the most popular and successful computer games. Simple yet engaging, not to mention addictive, it has been ported to almost every computing platform that's available out there--from cellphones, Gameboy machines to applet versions, played directly from the browser.

The game allows the player to control the orientation and the fall of various blocks built from a random mosaic of squares dropping down from the top of the screen. The object is to manipulate their fall so that their square protrusions align neatly in a row when they reach the "ground"; and when they do, you are rewarded with a burst of flash and sound--kerrush!--the row collapses and disappears from the screen. If you don't get them aligned, these random blocks stack up very fast until they touch the "sky"--and game is over.

You often see people absorbed in the game as if they are in a trance. Everytime they get a row or rows aligned--kerrush!--the player experiences a kind of digital ecstasy. It may seem like a mindless game but there is actually a deep-rooted reason why our minds latch on to it so instinctively.

Even though I personally don't play computer games very much, I see Tetris as a good metaphor of the mind. The blocks that drop from the sky are like our sensory input or information we receive from the external world. Sometimes by chance when certain facts fit together, we get an "aha" feeling--everything immediately clicks, a realization"sinks in", the veil of ignorance is suddenly cast away and you get a flash of illumination. It's a great feeling--like an orgasm of the mind.

That's how I see intellectual and spiritual insights. Sometimes the things around us don't seem to make sense very much; but as you keep on experiencing and engaging with the world, continuing to read, observe, meditate and reflect, one day they will all "align in a row"; and kerrush! you'll get that eureka moment. And often the experience changes the way you view the world.

Everytime that happens, your internal wiring changes--a mental transformation occurs. That is the essence of all insights. Whether they belong to the mundane intellectual plane or to the spiritual one, our mind progresses through these occasional steps of illumination. But unfortunately, a lot of people get one kerrush! and they run about shouting about their experience and stop playing the game altogether.

You will never know when the next insight will come. It's never game over. In Tetris, every row of blocks that align disappears from the screen--the entire structure collapses neatly downwards.The more insights you get, the simpler your world suddenly becomes--and you realize how brilliantly elegant nature is and you stand in complete awe of its grandeur.

That's how I view my world--it's a game of Tetris. One never finishes playing the game; and oh, how I live for those kerrrush! moments.

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