A Monk’s Tale : Videogames are Cathartic

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llama Trinley Dorje is, by all accounts, your average 24 year old guy. He listens to hip-hop and plays videogames. He’s also the He’s also the Karmapa Lama, making him the only politically recognised senior Buddhist leader. So probably not your average 24 year old then. Unlike the rest of us, he dresses in red and gold robes and is a spiritual and political leader. Like us though, he plays videogames to ease his aggression and vent frustration.

In an interview with The Times of India, the Lama revealed that despite the apparent dichotomy, playing violent videogames is not at ends with the spiritual and philosophical tenets of Buddhism.

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.

When asked by the interviewer if his meditation should be capable of appeasing those negative feelings, the lama replied  “No, video games are just a skilful method.”

Take that, Jack Thompson!

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Last Updated: September 21, 2009

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