Cooperative games aren’t spiritual activities. On the other hand, playing together in a mutually respectful and supporting way helps us feel connected and appreciate one another. This way of interacting opens the heart and nurtures love. So in a broad sense, cooperative games actually do link to spirituality if we construe spirituality in a super broad sense as the recognition of Love as a powerful Universal force that makes good things happen.
Here at CooperativeGames.com, the mission is to provide resources for cooperative play for everyone and especially for schools. So it’s appropriate to keep the discussion in secular terms. The spiritually inclined can see Spirit in cooperative play, but there’s no need to focus on that here. Cooperative play works magic whatever you believe about the ultimate nature of the Universe.
But today I am going to make an exception. I wanted to open a new subject for all those who might be interested in this idea. I wonder if there is a genre of cooperative games which we could call “Spiritual Cooperative Games”. I know lots of people who do Spirituality who like to play with prayer, blessings, their relationship with a Higher Power, etc. As I look at all this, I think some of these play forms are cooperative games played on the spiritual level.
For example, consider this spiritual practice, offered by Jerry, a Unity minister. Jerry shared this practice which works like a cooperative game you play within yourself. He discussed this in the context of a talk he gave on the subject of giving and receiving. Let’s start with the premise that you feel a lack of something in your life. Given this you might pray that the Higher Power gives it to you. Or in a totally secular vein you might try to fill your need by pulling on the levers you can identify in the world. You seek no help from a Higher Power at all. But there is a third way to address your need. This method uses the spiritual power of giving to get what you need. This method makes you feel great right away, and it’s great for others around you, and–if you believe in a spiritual order to things–you’ll probably agree that this method would provide to you what you need in the end since it’s based on well recognized spiritual principles. This method for addressing your own needs is the playful “From Bless to Bliss” method.
So to put this method in a true game format, Start Here… Step One: Begin with the understanding that giving and taking is a single reciprocal process (when it’s conducted on a spiritual level.) When you give, you receive. There’s a yin/yang to it, a natural flow. To receive we need to give, if we are going to be in balance with the Spiritual Universe. (Sure you can try to grab stuff for yourself from people and other resources in the external world, and this might even appear to work for a while, but this is not the Spiritual Path. The rewards will be narrow and have a shallowness to them and can even turn out to be destructive to yourself and others. This path is nothing like true heartful giving and taking which the Universe supports and which your soul really craves.) So in From Bless to Bliss, your goal is to get what you need using spiritual methods. The first rule is to accept that giving-and-receiving go together.
Here’s the second rule of From Bless to Bliss: Give First. Granted, giving and receiving do go together. But to start the cycle, you have to consciously give first to get the ball rolling.
Now, here’s the third rule of the game. There’s a trick here. The trick is that giving in order to experience receiving is not true giving. That is, when you give because you want something in return, you haven’t gotten to the spiritual level of really caring for another. Hmmm…how can you ever give to others as a spiritual practice to bring more into your own life, when giving with the hope you will be helped in turn means you are not really giving in the first place? It’s a Catch-22. How can you transcend your own self focus? So here’s the third step of the game, according to Jerry. This is the way out of the Catch 22. Send a sincere wish to the Universe to help someone else you know who is in need. And to really lift and shift your energy, bless that person with the wish they will receive MORE than what they want. For example, suppose your brother Jim is depressed and longs for more joy in life. Take a moment to spiritually focus, shift the focus to your heart. Feel your breath moving through your heart. Now bless Jim with your hope he will experience something even better than joy. Say to yourself something like “I bless Jim with ecstasy”. So in this moment, you get out of your own agenda and you really bless Jim in a living, sincere, non-self-interested way. Thus, you’ve started the cycle of giving. You’re playing the giving-receiving game with the Universe and all humankind. You’re playing From Bless to Bliss. Ahhh…
I have tried this game and I really like the way it feels. And it makes sense to me that playing this little game starts a flow of good energy. The Universe being what it is, the good karma will come back to you and satisfy all your true needs in the end when you practice caring for others as well as for yourself.
Spiritual cooperative games…let’s play! Thanks for the inspiration Jerry!