Earthbound Teaches Meditation and Emptiness
The classic game for Super Nintendo teaches us an important lesson about Nirvana and spirituality.
Recently I got myself a Raspberry Pi Super Nintendo emulator. Now I can simply download any classic game and play at will.
Right now I’m in the middle of playing Earthbound and now I know why every “classic game everybody should play” always has Earthbound on them.
Dungeon after dungeon the game unfolds revealing a psychedelic side which does in fact feel like an expansion of the psyche and a journey of self-exploration.
If you never played it, I think it’s worth taking your time.
Today I want to talk about a super short part of the game. A 2-minute scene that I felt that revealed an accurate illustration of meditation and understanding emptiness.
This game has reference to magic truffles, LSD, and many psychedelic drugs.
The game does feels like a psychedelic journey. All the enemies feel like a certain aspect of a trip. Like when we are tripping in the park and someone comes and interfere in the experience in a negative way:
There’s even a part that’s called the Moonside. This represents a journey in the dark part of our consciousness, the part of ourselves that we ignore or hide.
As the game goes we meet a woman who makes cakes.
We eat a magic cake, implied to be a hash cake.
The game shows the effects of the cake really quickly like a LSD trip that just started and the character falls asleep having a vivid lucid dream.
In the count of monte cristo there’s a similar scene where the characters eat a hash cake after dinner and they fall asleep and during this sleep they have a super vivid trippy dream.
The MU — Learning to Meditate
In this dream, we control another character who never appeared before. He is called the “Prince of the crown”.
The Crown is a reference to the crown chakra. This is to say that this character is a humanoid representation of the highest level of mind of the main character: Ness.
The Prince of the Crown needs to undergo his final test to finish his training. He needs to master Mu.
Mu is a concept kinda similar to Nirvana. It can be understood as void or emptiness.
This is the place of Mu.
Those who train here must first clear everything from their minds.
If you can make your mind blank and learn the true meaning of Mu you’ll pass through.
Mu is Mu…
Mu is Mu. Emptiness can only be described by itself or the absence of anything else, which is itself. The first challenge is to know how to let the mind blank.
Our prince of the crown goes up the ropes and starts his exercise of meditation. Soon a voice comes from far away and tries to get his attention. You have to resist and not touch the controller, or the training will be interrupted.
Much like when we meditate and there’s this verbalization tempting our attention and focus. The first step to achieve emptiness is to successfully ignore this little voice.
Then, the mind chances activity. At this stage of the meditation trance, the body and mind become numb and a new communication starts.
It’s our connection with our ancestors that is our heritage from ages and ages of evolution.
This mental voice seems to threaten us and for some, it can be scary. Sometimes during meditation, I jerk myself out of trance because I suddenly become alarmed by the numbness of my body.
First I’ll break your legs.
You will lose use of them.
Do you accept?
Next, I’ll take your arms.
Do you accept?
Now I’ll cut your ears off
You do not mind my taking your hearing away, do you?
Do you accept?
Now, Prince, no legs no arms, and no sounds. By floating words through the air, I must ask you…
If you did guided meditation, then you know what this refers to. During a meditation trance, there’s a point in which your entire perception of self is numb and all verbalization seems to spark out of nowhere and float in the middle of the mind.
You don’t really recognize your body. You know that if you move you break the spell and you will be able to feel your legs and arms again, but you don’t want this yet, you are on a mental journey.
After this point, even the mind disappears.
Do you care if I take your eyes?
Do you want to live in eternal darkness?
Do you accept this?
Master, now I can only communicate directly with your mind.
Your mind is all you have left.
In the end, I will take your mind, though you probably don’t want to allow that, do you?
Are you sad, are you lonely?
If you lose your mind, you also lose any feelings of sadness.
Know that I’ll take your mind. Know that I’ll possess it.
Of course, we must be aware of our imminent doom. There’s no sadness or nothing, as all is Mu when our mind is consumed by emptiness. But each thing on their own time.
I found this was a fantastic way to illustrate states of trance.
The first step is to at least try and empty the mind.
After we must learn how to ignore little voices that call us to “survival” mode.
Then we must give up body sensations and let the mind be.
As we connect with the roots of the mind we get a glimpse of Mu. But we are still limited by our current state and can’t quite get to full Mu. Maybe later in the game, I’ll see.
In samurai culture, emptiness is very important.
For example, Musashi in his Book of Five Rings has an entire chapter (one of the five rings) that talks about Shadow. Meaning, the Mu aspect of everything. He believed that this was the right state of mind to win battles.
“In emptiness, there is good but no evil. Wisdom exists, logic exists, the Way exists, the mind is empty.”
Another martial arts master, who wrote The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War, Yagyu Munero also wrote an entire chapter to talk about Emptiness and regarded it as the most important aspect of martial arts.
“Emptiness is the eye of Buddhism. There is a distinction between false emptiness and real emptiness. False emptiness is a simile for nothingness. Real emptiness is genuine emptiness, which is emptiness of mind. Although the mind is like empty space, being formless, the one mind is the master of the body, so the performance of all actions is in the mind. “ Yagyu Munero