The Joker

Life as a Card Game Versus Label Liberation and the State of Joker

LoserWinnerIf life is like a card game, where the “winners” need the “losers” and the “losers” need the “winners” for their identity, what do we do with the Joker? In some games we discard the Joker as being worthless. In other games we hold on to the Joker as the most valuable card in the deck.

For those who have been highly valued, even idolized, the challenge is for such “winners” to take the leap and move beyond ego-driven power games, to be able to consider that everyone, in essence, is of equal value. For those who have experienced being devalued or degraded to the point of being a family scapegoat or social untouchable, an equal challenge applies. “Losers” are invited to discover their true equal value.

Understanding how some of us are labeled “down and out” and others “up and in”, fine tunes us to empathize with everyone. When we have had such a realization and know full-heartedly that we are each the Joker in life’s card game, with 52 cards within, suddenly all sorts of mysteries are clarified. Just like the court-jesting fool of the past, we see through the power-plays of those still stuck in the card game. Knowing we all share the potential to experience wholeness, we learn to have compassion for those of us who still fear the initial death-like symptoms of laying all one’s cards on the table, and find ourselves beyond “bluffing”, beyond all polarities and therefore “out of the game.”

How do we acquire a magic carpet that will carry us out of the card game to a place of liberation?

Believe in the possibility of liberating yourself. Then make three wishes. The first wish is: “wake me up from the spell,” that is, the hypnotic trance that every human being has been subjected to through the labels, the intergenerational scripting and programming. We have to snap our fingers and instead of forgetting anything, tell ourselves that we will remember everything. The second wish is to enroll ourselves in a “stop acting” class so that we can become the very same authentic person with everyone. To do this, we need to seek out role models of authenticity. Then we need the courage to overcome our jealousy and envy of them. Once we stop competitive measuring, authenticity and spontaneity rubs off on us. The third wish is to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to everyone, no matter what age, gender, ethnicity, politics or religion.

What happens when we see beyond the card game?

Like Rip van Winkle and Sleeping Beauty, we wake up. Like Humpty-Dumpty after the fall, we connect the dots and put all the pieces of our life’s puzzle back together again. We have an epiphany, a paradigm shift. We step back from both sides of the coin. We move beyond comedy and tragedy. Like a jazz musician, we practice improvising, and through such practice, we become “perfectly” accepting of our imperfections. Soon we realize our three wishes have come true.

What is life like from the state of Joker?

The Joker CardAfter we are propelled out of the card game, we are not bothered by the fact that we have become “invisible” to the players who are still stuck in the game, huffing, puffing and bluffing, desperately clinging to their hand for their identity, an identity based on being programmed from infancy to be the opposite of someone else. From the state of Joker, we have passed through the eye of a needle, and know that we were only able to do so, by overcoming the fear of being unmasked, naked. For the Emperor to admit to not wearing clothes, he must transcend his ego enough to acknowledge others as equals.

Once we know we are a Joker with 52 cards within, how can we not recognize that everyone is a Joker, too? By candidly laying all our cards on the table, and admitting our hidden sides, such as anger, hurt, jealousy and envy of others, or secret tenderness for that matter, we discover that the moment we do so, magically we transcend all blocks. We see the folly of the trap of being a prisoner to our calculating, taximeter-like minds, that compulsively measure, compare and compete with everyone. No longer chained to the teeter-totter of polarities, from the state of joker we realize that we have been turned into symbols who can only “love” to the degree we “hate” another. Liberated from dichotomies, we appreciate the words of the Sixth Chinese Patriarch:

When love and hate are absent
the way is clear and undisguised,
but make one distinction
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

  • From the state of Joker, we understand the inductions that turn us into pawns and that provoke wars, prejudice, generation gaps, violence and alienation. We have quieted the “cassettes” in our heads that had been filling us with programmed expectations passed down, generation to generation.
  • From the state of Joker, we see that how we treat others is a reflection of how we perceive ourselves.
  • From the state of Joker, having dissolved a “public” and “private” split, by no longer wearing any mask, by not having the need to bluff, we are free to define ourselves beyond “winning,” “losing,” or any other labels.
  • From the state of Joker, our taximeter thinking becomes background, instead of foreground, so that we may experience shalom, the state of grace, salaam, peace.

Read the Joker’s letter to the Queen, by Justin Thomas

Having had a paradigm shift, we discover life off the teeter-totter of “winners” versus “losers.” We no longer desperately cling to one label or another for acceptance. We have moved beyond seeing ourselves and others as “lucky” or “unlucky” or any other pair of opposites. Not being overwhelmed or hypnotized by words or labels or symbols any more, we observe the behavior of others who are still prisoners of the alphabet. We understand that all human hurt and anger, all suffering, be it at home, at school, at work, or anywhere else, is created by our having been force-fed words, which transform into all those labels and symbols that we learn to eat, out of habit, and hopefully eventually vomit out. Once we “stop acting,” and therefore end acting out an imposed identity based on labels, and find the courage to risk making “fools” of ourselves, we discover another meaning of rebirth. We become comfortable with “slowly” experiencing “instant” enlightenment. Beyond all words, we are not only process, energy, change, but poetry, art, dance…

“A startling and original point of view… Justin is providence.”

–Federico Fellini,
film director

“Justin’s given a lot of thought to many things. We should all be Driven Sane with Label Liberation.”

–Jackie Mason,