The Karmapa Lama, one of Buddhism’s top leaders, has stated that not only does he play violent video games, he also thinks they are as effective as meditation in freeing the mind of worldly passions.
He also professes a liking for hiphop, though is too coy to name specific artists…
The current Karmapa Lama, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, leads a major school of Buddhism, the Karma Kagyu school, and occupies an especially delicate diplomatic position as he is the only major Buddhist leader to receive recognition from China (whose control he escaped from), India (where he resides now) and the Tibetan people.
However, he is a young man of 24, and as such has picked up rather more of global contemporary culture than any of his forebears.
He explains in an interview:
Moving to other issues, I believe you like to listen to hip-hop on your ipod. Who are your favourite artistes?
I can’t think of any specific artistes right now, I basically listen to what ever comes my way, whatever sounds appealing. It’s important for me to stick to my traditional forms of art because I am a Tibetan Buddhist teacher wearing these robes. It’s important for me to maintain my cultural affiliations.
But from time to time I do enjoy listening to hip-hop because it has a very modern sound to it and even though I’m a Tibetan teacher representing these ancient teachings, I’m also a global citizen in the 21st century. Hip-hop perhaps is one way of me being a 21st-century person.
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.