September 20, 2009

The Karmapa on Hip-Hop & Video War Games: : "The aggression that comes out in the video game satiates whatever desire I might have to express that feeling."

James Shaheen

karmapa, tricycle, video games, buddhism, buddha

Video game site points us to an interview with Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa (the one recognized by the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government), who enjoys hip-hop and considers video war games a kind of "emotional therapy":

I believe you like to listen to hip-hop on your ipod. Who are your favourite artistes?

I can't think of any specific artists 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.

A few weeks back, I wrote about Cursed Mountain, a Tibetan Buddhist inspired video game. I don't know if he has stumbled upon it yet.

You can read the full Times of India interview with the 17th Karmapa here.

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patrickwayne's picture

I rather let my kids play some puzzle and new physics games, I don't know what will the RPG games is adaptive to every kids, so I prefer them playing web flash games at

Tricycle's picture

[...] to the protagonists meditative practice or upbringing (remember Kung Fu?). Video games, too: I posted about the Karmapa’s use of violent video games as “emotional therapy” and plenty [...]

kobeli's picture

Air Jordan 6 Rings

Namkhah's picture

N Levine: Perhaps so, but he did visit America, Buddh Gaya and several places within India. The multi-trillionaire Communist Chinese junta has long arms, there is constant pressure on the government of India to restrict his freedom but ultimately we expect that he will prove irrepressible. It is vital for the lineage that tulkus receive proper training in the entire curriculum. Situ Rinpoche is also restricted travel wise, if he leaves India, he may not be allowed back in.

The Irreverent Buddhist's picture

I used an online Gangster Game to do the same thing. But upon closer inspection I discovered in the long run this only encourages unwholesome states of mind and was ego re-inforcing. So now I don't. I also don't hit people.

N Levine's picture

From the age of 14 since he escaped to India His Holiness the Karmapa has been lving in two rooms at the top of Gyuto Monastery, a Gelugpa monastery used by Gelugpa monks. Frequently he has no access to the shrine room and must give blessings from a small waiting room. He does not have a private bathroom. He has to get permission to go anywhere, even to Dharmsala a few miles away. He has recently been denied permission to go to the Kullu valley, to Dharmsala to see the Dalai Lama, and has never been allowed to go to Sherabling where Tai Situ, his guru, lives. He is more of a prisoner now than he ever was in Tibet. Is it surprising he has a skilful way of dealing with aggression?

Hugh Croft's picture

I'm surprised at this - sounds like encouraging anger and hatred - even if remaining mindful during the game. Enlighten me.

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