The Four Noble Truths about WoW

As both my second 31 Day Challenge – writing a List Post – and as a response to Larísa’s wonderful declaration against the doom and gloom of the WoW community, I present you with the central beliefs of Buddhist teachings.  In a way, this is also an homage to the lovely Bre and her final post at GLDC.

(Awesome, I just realized I sorta did Day #3 as well: Promote a Blog Post [or two!].  Go me!)

Ahem, anyways, to provide a better understanding of this post, I must provide a bit of background information to the Buddha himself, and how he came to realize these four truths of life, as believed by practitioners of Buddhism.  During his life, he wandered the land, pondering the nature of life and attempting to discover the secret to pure happiness and enlightenment.  These are his teachings, and how I believe pertains to WoW today.

The First Truth:  To Live is to Suffer

Humans, by nature, are a suffering species.  From the moment we are born, we are set to die.  Even in birth itself, individuals suffer.  Through disease, sorrow, death, lamentation, and despair, humans are meant to suffer.  Through acknowledgement of that we suffer for, we understand the opposite of suffering as well.  Joy, comfort, and ease are examples of this.  However, these forms of happiness are impermanent, as mentioned by Bre in her post.  These things we feel happy for are merely transient, and we suffer when they are gone.

Look back and wonder about that close friend you made in your guild, or that wonderful blogger that packed his or her bags after years of faithful service to the community.  How did you feel?  I’m sure that many of you were in despair when it had happened, for our nature is to grieve for the loss of those that we hold dear to our hearts.  We as WoW players suffer in-game as well, through the anxiety of progression, the isolation of being unable to find PuGs, and perhaps most prevalently, the grinding nature of the game itself, demanding our valuable time and energy, potentially spent elsewhere.

The Second Truth: The Origin of Suffering Lies in Attachment

The origin of our suffering lies in attachment to things that are impermanent, or not long for this world.  To quote Breana:

“You start with a grain of sand, you then put another and another, building an intricate pattern, bit by bit until you have something that looks like this:

Mandala_gross

Now take your hand, place it a corner and with a firm, decisive stroke, run your hand across it.

Gone.

That is impermanence. Everything, regardless of how beautiful, or how much work you put into it, is subject to change, and that change can mean an end.”

I marvel at the beautiful words with which she wrote.  Like all things in this world, she is also gone.  And it doesn’t just stop in-game.  Many of those we love are also gone.  Phaelia, BRK, amongst the forefront of this shock of realizing only the temporary nature of things we attach ourselves to in-game.  Think of your first guild.  It was your first guild for a reason, and I’m sure that it is your guild no longer.  Now think of your current guild, what makes you think that this guild is the be-all and end-all of your days of playing WoW?  Drama, ultimately ensues, and can wear away the mightiest of guilds like wind blowing away the sand of the largest dunes in the Sahara.

The Third Truth: The Cessation of Suffering is Attainable

The reason why we suffer is because we are attached to things that are impermanent, not meant for this world.  The ultimate way to cease our suffering is to simply give up our attachment to these things that make us happy (and ultimately in the end, sad).  The term nirodha describes the unmaking of our sensual cravings for things and our ultimate attachment to them.  We must free ourselves from attachment in order to cease that which makes us suffer.

There is no greater difficulty to understanding nirodha than that of understanding our attachment to the game.  One could think that to free ourselves from WoW is to give it up altogether.  That is not the way.  Having done so myself for fourty days, I have understood this quite well.  The true way of freeing one’s self from the sufferings of Warcraft is to obtain nirvanha, the ultimate freedom from worry, attachment, worry, and all means of suffering.

The Fourth Truth: The The Path Towards the Cessation of Suffering is Through the Middle Way

The path to nirvanha is a long, arduous, gradual path.  And to Buddhists, this path is called the Eightfold Path: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.  These eight behaviours fall under three main aspects that one must obtain to live rightly; wisdom, conduct, and concentration.  To learn about the world, to act accordingly, and to focus on the path towards enlightenment is the way of the Buddha, and to follow this middle way is to become truly enlightened.

In WoW, it is very much possible that those who unknowingly seek to end their in-game suffering follow these guidelines to life.  Those who blog about WoW are those who have the wisdom to teach others as well as learn from them.  Larísa is a spokeswoman for such wisdom, as the majority of teachings at the PPI help us become baby steps closer to that freedom.  It is without surprise then, that she has persevered through this recent hardship that has wrought the blogging community as a whole.

Those who act well in the game and outside of it are also capable of finding the good in the game, and ultimately in themselves.  Brigwyn of the Hunting Lodge is a shining example of right conduct, raising money for children through his charity online auction.  But not just Briggy, take a look at the donors who have contributed items to that charity.  Each and every last one of them are probably living a great life, both in and out of the game.

One who has followed the right mindfulness is Euripedes of Critical QQ.  A former forums troll, he has taken his talent for creating the right words and put it into a blog teaching mages how to be mages.  Amongst posts of wisdom, he has stories relating to his life, sharing the very fabrics of his livelihood.  Unsurprisingly, he didn’t quit the blog when he was faced with the troubles of impernanence in the game.  Truly someone with the right concentration.

Conclusion

Those, my friends, are the 4 noble truths set forth by the Buddha, applied to the WoW gaming and blogging community.  If you wish to learn more about buddhism and its teachings, check out the article on Wikipedia.  It may not be reputed as the most reliable of information sites, but it is the most accessible, and is generally accurate about widely studied topics such as Buddhism.

If you wish to learn more about the world of warcraft (and by this I mean topics that extend beyond that of gear stats and boss strats), then look no further than the blogs make up this fine community.  It is a living, breathing entity, and for every big red kitty and tree that leaves, there’s a kitten and sproutling just waiting to take their place.  It’s a wonderful thing, and I am deeply honoured to be a part of it.

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4 thoughts on “The Four Noble Truths about WoW

  1. Oh what a beautifully well put post! I was delighted to read it. Especially the second point about letting things go is spot on. It was Bre that showed me the connection between my sandcastle view on WoW and the buddism philosophy. You explained it a bit further. Thank you.

    I must say that I don’t quite recognize myself as being a wise person – on the contrary, I feel rather confused and lost in life. But maybe that’s a sign of some kind of insight?
    Anyway I feel honored.

  2. I hadn’t ever thought of it that way, but I agree with your post wholeheartedly with one provision. My first guild IS my current guild. Not all of the membership remains the same, but I believe we are as strong as we are because we are based on a real life friendship.

    It does boggle my mind how people get so attached or possessive of temporary virtual “stuff” that will be obsolete probably sooner rather than later.

  3. @Larisa: You certainly do have your pearls of wisdom, especially when it comes to the analogies that relate to real life. I, amongst many, appreciate such analogies.

    @Gnomer: It’s very easy to emphasize the negative feelings we tend to have towards games, or take things negatively when things happen. But fortunately, the blogosphere is filled with amazing people, and it’s up to the individual to find out, and for the authors themselves to raise that individual’s awareness of them. That is what I believe is the true purpose of Challenge #3.

    @Fish: I apologize for making such a rash generalization. I should have said that “most likely” it is the case. People like you are indeed lucky to be able to experience a guild like that. Such things are a rarity in this game.

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