What Is The Glass Bead Game?

Drugs. Dreams. Discussion. 

The three most salient methods for raising one’s consciousness; propelling forward an understanding of the “outside” world and providing each participant with a fresh new outlook on life.

The Glass Bead Game is an exercise in consciousness, examining the whole of existence. Played singularly, in pairs, or in groups, the Glass Bead Game is a discussion-based system in which one party poses a question to another, which then must be answered to greater and greater degrees of consciousness. During each round, an escalating series of questions is proposed about life. Aimed at not only enriching the understanding of each individual player, the Game may also be written down in order to preserve and enhance the understanding of those eager enough to review its progression. It is advisable, however, that the Glass Bead Game be played with those of greater to equal caliber than oneself, so as to continue one’s elevation towards learning.

Players of the Glass Bead Game are amongst the most specialized-elite, found either by merit of their own skill set, or promoted through examination from their school teachers. Once selected, each player is invited to join a specialty school and henceforth be instructed in the ways of art, music, culture, philosophy, mathematics and - most importantly - meditation. It is assumed that meditation is the highest degree of exercise and training, as meditation affords one the clarity necessary to bring about true answers during the proceedings of the Game. 

At the beginning of the Game, a two-sided theme or topic is thrown out to each opposing player. Rhythmically, and most commonly likened to the development of music, the theme is then examined back and forth by both parties until one party has come to a stand-still. In this way, one player would stimulate the consciousness of the other player, in hopes of not only winning the game, but growing the universal understanding of life as a whole. The aforementioned stand-still is not necessarily a signaling that the game has come to an end; so long as the contested party is able to devise a significant enough answer before an allotted period of 24-hours. In this manner, the game may be paused for the duration of one-day, allowing the opposing team or player ample opportunity to come up with a satisfactory rebuttal to the question in play. Based on a points system to determine a definitive winner, the Glass Bead Game is set to last for a maximum of 10 festival days.

Unfortunately, as with all things in life, a downside does come about from the playing the Game. Vanity, self-advancement, and a seeking of power over others are all enticing factors set to tempt each player, due to the high-level of consciousness that is cultivated either in training or during the Game. Additionally, although an analysis of the abstract may be seen as a great way to develop the building blocks necessary in progressing one’s consciousness, one may also come to see that the Game presents an unrealistic representation of life. As well, one may also come to find that, through extensive meditation and playing of the Game, one may begin to experience a sense of numbness towards all supposed-realities of life; thereby making the whole of attachment and socialization appear meaningless. 

By expanding oneself too far beyond the attached-realities of life, one may eventually become self-alienating. Thus, the most important practice of the Game is figuring out how to bring each of the derived concepts out into the “real” world; taking what one knows about un-attached reality and merging it with the attached.

At the highest level of achievement in the Game, the Magister Ludi, one can even see that he, over time, starts looking to seek refuge from the Game; finding that the realities and conclusions drawn about regarding truth have become meaningless in a world filled with peril. It may be true that the expansion and exploration of consciousness is highly important towards the progression of society; however, these significant truths become insignificant when placed next the realities of war, famine, and chaos. Thus, the Game, and its expansion of consciousness, is only fit for times of peace and prosperity; ensuring that the elevation of consciousness does not come into conflict with the “real” importance of life --- that it is to be lived.

In the end, the Magister Ludi himself, after having finally left the Order and the Game, finds that even he is unable to escape the drawings of attached-reality, as, he too, enjoys, but eventually finds his own downfall in his attachments. Pride being the egoic impulse that had decidedly ended the life of the Magister.

In the context of yoga, the Glass Bead Game is a method or means for expanding one’s understanding via an expansion of the fourth kosha, vijnanamaya kosha. Through ample discussion, one is able to transform their own understanding of the illusions of reality and formulate a unique perspective and “way of conduct” for living within an attached-reality that perpetuates suffering. While in a state of discussion, each player will begin to develop a bond between one another, as its education is aimed towards traversing the infinite landscape of discovery, demystification, and ultimately, enlightenment; from which your partner becomes your chief ally against suffering.