The Karmapa Lama is “the only senior Buddhist leader recognized by Beijing, the Tibetans and India.” He’s also a 24 year old who likes hip-hop and violent video games. Recently, he gave an interview in the Times of India. It’s an interesting reflection of the ways Buddhism continues to adapt to the times.
He also speaks a bit about tensions between Tibet and China, but more or less just echoes the Dalai Lama’s policy. No surprises there. What is a bit of a surprise is his attitude about video games:
Is that why you play war games on your play station because many might say it’s inappropriate for a Buddhist monk dedicated to peace to play war games?
Well, I view video games as something of an emotional therapy, a mundane level of emotional therapy for me. We all have emotions whether we’re Buddhist practitioners or not, all of us have emotions, happy emotions, sad emotions, displeased emotions and we need to figure out a way to deal with them when they arise.
So, for me sometimes it can be a relief, a kind of decompression to just play some video games. If I’m having some negative thoughts or negative feelings, video games are one way in which I can release that energy in the context of the illusion of the game. I feel better afterwards.
The aggression that comes out in the video game satiates whatever desire I might have to express that feeling. For me, that’s very skilful because when I do that I don’t have to go and hit anyone over the head.
But shouldn’t meditation take care of that?
No, video games are just a skilful method.
His comments on the India vs. China tension are also interesting if, again, not surprising:
Obviously I can’t speak from the perspective of a politician who is active in these communications. Obviously the government of each country has its own interests in the ongoing conversation. They are doing what they can to advance their own interests. I’m not able to comment on what those interests might be. But if I were to make some observations and guesses from my own vantage point, it seems to me that the Chinese government is acting somewhat deliberately in attempts to slightly irritate the government of India.
Because of this the neighbourly relationship has suffered a little bit. India has always been a relatively peaceful country, a country that has always had a reasonably good record of valuing peace, India does not seem interested in pursuing any type of conflict, however, India is on the rise in the world and perhaps the Chinese government feels some type of impulse to blunt this rise somehow. Perhaps that is what is causing some of the things we see today.
Tangentially relevant to this blog’s area of focus? Yup. But still interesting, no?