Gratitude Series #54 – The Pick Game


Pick… burn down a temple OR marry XXX (this is usually someone you dislike), and have ten babies with this person, and serve him/her for the rest of your life? Pick if not you’ll get both! Yes this is just one of the many zany examples of the choices you may get in a pick game.

The pick game was invented by my dear Guru, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche but bear in mind it is not just another ordinary fun kind of game. It is actually quite profound and a very skilful game that Rinpoche ingeniously came up with to show us our mind. It took me awhile to figure out that this wasn’t just for laughs or our entertainment. It was Rinpoche’s clever way of making us realise what irks us; making us see within ourselves and our inner most attachments. It’s as if Rinpoche’s holding up a mirror in front of us, revealing to us our neurosis and then challenging us to decide the course of action we’d take. Which one will we pick… the selfish one of the selfless one? Usually when you’re on the spot and you’re being asked to pick, you wouldn’t realise this until after you’ve made your pick.

So depending on how strong one’s attachments are, how fixated we are with our preconceived ideas, we will react and pick what we perceive is right at that moment. As if it was real, some may even take a really long time to decide, but even that shows us how we think, our attached we are, our mind set, what we’re capable of doing or sacrificing. Also by playing this pick game Rinpoche gets to gauge our mind. Like any good doctor would do, checking the patient before prescribing the best antidote to help heal him/her.

Uncanny as it may seem, this simple and fun game helps us learn more about ourselves and others. It’s amazing because even if you’re not the one playing, by just by witnessing the game and the choices that’s been put out, you’ll notice your own thoughts and emotions. It could be insecurities of being part of the pick choices, or worried that you’ll be picked to play next game. These thoughts are enough for you to discover some truth about your own self. One thing’s for sure, we all have an ego and I realise what a big one I have just by watching the game and how others pick lol. I didn’t even need to play the game to learn something because I’ll be thinking what my choice would be if Rinpoche asked me. Truth be told that our fears and limitations are created by ourselves due to our own fat ego – not wanting to be rejected, not wanting to look bad, to lose face, to be wronged, basically it’s all to protect a non-existing self-cherishing ego.

This pick game has been played by Rinpoche since the time I first met Rinpoche in 2000 right up till today, and it has never fail in making people laugh at themselves while waking us up to think about the decision we make. It is a profound teaching about the choices we ‘pick’ on a daily basis and the consequences that comes along with it – good or bad. It teaches us to take responsibility for our actions and to be wise to make the right choices, at least ones with less or no negative karma.

Nothing Rinpoche does is ever random, even from such a simple game, we can learn Dharma. Even when Rinpoche jokes and the tease us, has a Dharma teaching, if we have the merits to realise it. It’s certainly a privileged to be able to participate and experience this game, definitely an unconventional creative method for us to learn. Rinpoche, thank you for always skilfully expounding the Dharma to benefit us… to help tame our difficult minds, and to give us wisdom from a simple ‘pick’ game.

Related Links:

  1. A game? Or is it?
  2. Question asked by Petunia
  3. Our Neurotic Mind
  4. Thoughts

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