Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | July 30, 2009

The Rules of the Game

So, I suppose what the philosopher is searching for is The Rules of the Game. It’s hard to play the game, let alone win if you don’t know what the rules are. So many of us accept blindly what we are told and play by a set of rules, that, for the most part, might be lopsided, stacked in a few people’s favor, fundamentally unfair, or just a generally load of horse manure.

I don’t like playing by the rules. I like being independent and free and self sufficient and making up my own rules. I guess that’s why I’m so attracted to the taoist way of life. Adapt, go with the flow, look for the synchronous, follow a set of rules concerning character and self development. I like to follow common sense, my common sense.

It’s also the crux of my search for the meaning of life. What are the rules? Are there rules. What’s the matrix we are operating under? I have to make my own assumptions and experience myself the efficacy of certain paradigms. I refuse to accept willingly certain worldly ways that say this is the way–this is the way to make a living, this is the way to get a job done, this is the kind of music/literature/art you should like/create, this is the way to marry and have children, this is the way to sell a shoe, this is the way to on and on and on and on. No, no, no, no, and no. I don’t want to do it your way. I want to do it my way.

Yes, I acquiesce to some rules. I drive within the speed limit, I play monopoly according to the rules, I don’t make up words at scrabble(my god some people are sticklers/anal retentive when it comes to the rules of the game–if you try to modify them in any way they are about to have a brain aneurysm. This is interesting because in work and in life, the people who are stuck on the rules never move forward, never solve problems, never create anything better, but man, can they staple paper onto paper in exact perfection) F the rules!

In a way, I like not knowing the rules because it means I don’t have to be accountable to them. I am accountable to myself, to my circle of people, to those counting on me, to the mission, if the mission is legitimate.

Perhaps the other thing about this is, that as we progres in the spiritual life, in the contemplative life, in the tai chi life, we begin to develop our intuitive sense, we begin to have mini enlightenments, and we can clearly see in our heart that they way people are operating is wrong, it’s not the way, it’s a big waste of time, it doesn’t make sense, but they have the power and the cache so they are in charge and most of the time, their way goes. Do you remember the movie Poseiden Adventure when everyone is trying to get to the top of the boat, not realizing that the freaking boat is upside down and they were only going deeper into the water, and only Gene Hackman had the intuitiveness to lead a few to the bottom of the boat, realizing the bottom of the boat was at the top of the ocean…



  1. I don’t think there are any rules– not of the sort you are talking about. Two important things in my life led me to this conclusion. I spent a few months in Africa when I was eighteen, and saw people cheerfully walk right over rules that no westerner would dream of violating. Many years later, I learned about Godel’s theorem. Oh, a friend of mine recommended that I read Abraham Kaplan’s Conduct of Inquiry, that book was pretty influential too.

    If there were rules, then life would simply be a matter of following them, and consciousness would not be required. I believe God wants us to be thinking, conscious beings, and also that the world he put us in a serious place. This is not a nursery; the stakes are high and the risks are real. We do not live with a nursery’s protections, but neither are we bound by its artificial limits. There are no rules.

    This requires that we stay on our toes.

    • Hey Brother,

      In a sense, I think you are right. From a taoist perspective, there are no rules, only a way, except for the artificial rules created by man, and I don’t think either of us dismiss them out of hand because we do need rudimentary rules to make society work and for the orderly enagaement of human beings to one another. It’s coming up with the right artificial rules and allowing enough freedom to individuals to make their own decisions, within certain moral boundaries, of course. From the christian perspective, we begin with a judaic perspective of lots of rules and laws, and then Jesus pretty much breaks it down to two, Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

      I’m working on a post right now on heuristics, a term I heard in the few weeks of graduate school I attended and didn’t have a clue what it meant, but it popped up in my wanderings on the web, so I’m trying to learn more. It applies more in this day and age to computer algorythms, but is a term also applied to philosophy and literature. So, I won’t talk about it here, but if you’ve heard the term and want to weigh in, I’d appreciate it.



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