The 27 Veils of Ignorance

I run a meetup group called “Healing Grace” for alternative and complimentary practitioners and I was asked why I had posted, as a recurring event, the Saturday GO academy I help run. “What does this have to do with healing?” I believe was the question. And at first it does seem strange, people are so used to thinking of GO as a martial strategy game that what gets lost is the origination of the game and its interplay with the healing and meditative arts.


Here is the post I wrote, much of the information is adapted from the introduction to Peter Shotwell’s book, “GO! More than a Game.”


“What does GO have to do with a healing group?


GO is surmised to have come into being during c.2000-1400 BC in China, it was seen as a living example of the earth-oriented feng shui and acupuncture theories that developed in that period. The play of stones was seen as collecting and blocking the forces of ch’I energy as they coursed over the earth shaped, square board.


As GO developed through history it also assumed the interpretation as an example of nature – the board a reflection of the heavens, with the stones as the sun, the moon and the stars, while the play of the game represented the rhythmic changes of the seasons. GO was later seen as a means of examining and manipulating the balances and imbalances of the ever changing Tao, and the primal Yin-Yang energies.


By 600-1200 AD, playing GO was seen as a virtue and a reflection of the greater powers of the universe. It became more than simply a lesson in the Way of the Tao, the game for Confucians became an expression of the One and for the Buddhists, a method to lift the ”Twenty-seven Veils of Ignorance” that prevented mankind from learning the Truth – on the board and in life.

For the Japanese, GO is a form of art and contemplation. One Japanese Noh poet wrote the following about the game:


When playing GO, resentments clear away

Thoughts become like the moon arising at night


There, on the beach of endless

Births and deaths

The GO stones become uncountable grains of sand


Even though the players struggle, their hearts

Remain gentle

In placing their stones down, their hands reveal benevolence


And as the pieces strike the board

The mantra Aum reverberates


Before their eyes rise boundaries of life

And death

And the pattern of Nirvana itself


The white and black stones become the colors of

Day and night

The star-points become the nine lights of heaven


The three hundred and sixty intersections

Render the numbers of the days of the year”






About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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