Angry Birds: The Buddhist Sport

Like most of you, I’m a busy person keeping busy with many things in life that make life busy. (I’m not completely sold on this ‘busy‘ concept. My friend Kneale once said: “busy is a victim word.” I dig.)

The other night, I thought I would take a break from all of this busy-ness to have a quick go at Angry Birds (you may have heard of this little game). As haute mode as I am, I’m still working on the Hanukkah Holiday edition. Rocketed to Level Six!

Whilst failing brilliantly at every attempt to destroy those monstrous green pigs, it occurred to me that Angry Birds may be the closest to Buddhism that many of us ever get…

Buddhism is based on a simple concept (and the concept is all that is simple about it :-)): attaching oneself to the impermanence of the now (people, cars, dishwashers, and your favourite Jimmy Choos) is pretty much a waste of precious energy. All this attachment causes insufferable suffering and, through enlightenment, one is released from this suffering. Karma plays a part as well; as most of us understand it, Karma is an idea around cause and effect. What you do now plays a role in determining your future fate. It’s not quite as simple as ‘if I let that car in front of me during rush hour today, I’ll get bumped to first class on my flight to Cleveland next Tuesday’. It’s more like – if you achieve a certain level of enlightenment in this life, you won’t come back as a water buffalo dragging plows through the muck on your next go around. A bit of the ‘if onlys’.

You know those times in your life when you say to yourself, “Rats, I should have said…” or “Phooey, if only I had done…”? (I’m probably the only person who actually says Rats and Phooey but you take my point). Someone throws a quip at you and the brilliant & witty retort springs to your lips … six minutes later in the elevator? Yeah, those times.

Buddhism teaches mindfulness. Being aware in the moment. Karma (in the moment) teaches awareness of knowledge. “I’ve been here before – I know how to do this, how to react, how to act – because I’ve already learned it”. We all have this knowledge – using it is the challenge.

Ok. So … Angry Birds? Angry Birds is one of the best places to get your ‘mulligan’ (my golfing friends tell me that’s a ‘do over’). Where else can you start, every time, with identical circumstances and identical opportunities and learn from every single attempt until you get it right and win? Yes, the Toucans are useless but if you try often enough, you’ll eventually learn their strengths. (And if anyone knows them, please share. Scott probably knows.)

Perhaps we can take a lesson from those Angry Birds. Maybe circumstances don’t change all that much. It’s possible that life is a series of mulligans – we are often in circumstances that are familiar and from which we’ve previously learned. It’s about taking the time to be aware, be in the moment, and improve on each step we take. Breathe -> think -> act.

Now … Level Seven awaits!

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