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  • Javier Romano

Dropping the Ballast

The concept of “losing” can be seen as a form of preparation for our future. Although it is almost automatically associated with something negative, it is actually happening continuously in everything from our biology, our own body, to the processes of nature in our human, animal, plant, and mineral habitat. The oft-quoted “nothing is lost, everything is transformed” can be rightly applied here.

But who and when did it say that “losing” was always a bad thing? In the balance of existence, of life, this belief has “seeped” into popular mythology, that one must always win and avoid losing.

If we are talking about material things, particularly goods and trade in goods, there are laws and rules that specify this and have their place and reason. We use common sense and our own and others’ experience to confirm the validity of this.

Yet we can see that the apparent solidity of these principles, and the way we try to hold on to this form of “security”, is very often thwarted by events that seem to contradict our assumptions. Natural catastrophes wipe away in seconds the possessions acquired over decades; an unforeseen illness wipes out in a few months the life — and with it the plans — of an ambitious industrialist; a pandemic brings an entire productive apparatus to a halt for months or years, and so on.

On a more internal level these “losses” also occur constantly, giving rise to the creation of new spaces, to cellular regeneration at microscopic levels, to the acquisition of deeper truths that would seem to oppose those we held until recently.

The Universe is rich and abundant and is full of Good, Beauty and Majesty. That is why it is called the All. But we do not experience it in its totality, our limited perception lets us see only a small part of this immeasurable Whole, more often than not making us see what seems to be missing. It only seems so, as we often extrapolate our personal shortcomings or those we see in others, to the magnanimous Universe, diminishing it unjustly. The Universe does not resent this, but continues to watch us with Love and Compassion, waiting for us to wake up and begin to see beyond our limited bubble of perception, commonly called “blindness”.

One of the many benefits of playing Quaternity is the gradual realisation that losing is a natural and necessary phenomenon for growth, for evolution. One cannot move forward without accepting loss, incorporating it with open acceptance.

This “losing” leads the mind to a very healthy form of “stupefaction”: it breaks down false certainties, —real obstacles and veils on our way to deep understanding. The very mechanics of the game puts you in front of a paradox that does not seem to have a solution. If we had not been wisely told that “the straight path is in the middle of the paradox”, it would seem a hopeless situation. Improving the ability to play it helps to eliminate many possible variables; there are mechanisms that become more familiar and certain things can become predictable and others can be avoided.

Notwithstanding this improvement, this progress in skill, the configuration of the game seems to be designed to produce, at least on one level, a kind of “bewilderment”.

I vividly remember countless moments where I was checkmated and left like astonished, not knowing what had happened, where the devastating impact came from. It could perhaps be compared to what a boxer would experience when receiving the final knock-out blow that makes him lose his stability and lucidity, a superior force that somehow “puts him in his place”.

The feeling of “where did this blow come from” is typical of Quaternity as it is not always possible to see what is happening on the board as a whole, especially when, usually towards the end of the game, the few remaining pieces are mixed up and scattered in such a seemingly “chaotic” way that it is difficult to see what is happening. Thus a checkmate can come very unexpectedly and from any side, without having had a chance to prepare for its arrival.

This not being able to see everything that is happening puts the mind “in its place”, its rightful place, of assuming and understanding its own limitation. It is perhaps appropriate here to make the distinction that this understanding happens to our left-brain hemisphere, not the right one, it happens to the “emissary” and not to the “master”, to use Iain McGilchrist's terms in his book “The Master and His Emissary”.

In this process of recognition, the “emissary” re-learns/remembers what he had temporarily forgotten: that he is merely an employee exercising a function in the service of the master, who, by definition, knows better and more completely.

With the practice of traditional chess and similar activities that stimulate mostly the rational function of the brain, the emissary needed to train and grow over a period of time. This had been a necessary development in response to an adaptation to the “new” function of the intellect, as this excerpt explains:


“...Certain promising races of pre-men became inexplicably extinct, and it has been ventured that this occurred because they were unable to adapt to the intellect — to them an incomprehensible and ungovernable experience. Similarly, a function that gives access to a four-dimensional world can be equally disastrous for a Modern Man based on the intellect”.

The People of the Secret. E. Scott


But with the advent of Quaternity also came the new challenge: to transcend the rational mentality and strive to access a higher and fuller form of cognition.

This “game” is not only an instrument to facilitate this new transition towards a change in the way we perceive reality, but it is also simply reflecting a large-scale event that is taking shape in our habitat and in the Cosmos itself. It is probably not the only instrument; the paths are apparently diverse but the goal is the same. Change will happen, for the alternative that remains is bleak and has to do with extinction or subservience to lower forces that do not wish this transition to take place.

There is difficulty in “releasing, letting go” of the old and accustomed “it doesn't make sense” mode. These parameters of thought keep us tied to a limited and obsolete perception. It is necessary to make certain kinds of subtle efforts, to persevere in those practices that can be useful to this vital opening.


“At every stage man has to abandon the safe, the reliable, and —for his present moment— the most advanced. At every stage he has to struggle with the negative force of inertia. He has to overcome a mental obstacle just as he once had to overcome biological obstacles. If he succeeds, he learns more, understands more, comes nearer to participation”.

The People of the Secret. E. Scott


So “losing” has a lot to do with getting rid of the old layers of rust that prevent one from “seeing” and knowing reality in its infinite manifestation.

It is the process of “undressing” in order to pierce the veils that separate us from the subtle realms within. The mind alone will not be able to understand Quaternity, the laws that operate in its structure, the plural dynamics that characterise it. The mind will have to place itself in its role of “emissary” and let the master (represented by the right hemisphere) take over the game, as was originally its function. In this way this game acts as a restorer of a function that is essential for the human being and his future development. This is no small thing.


“...Thus, we suggest that you use your non-literal mental apparatus and train yourself to become comfortable with illogical, irrational, or “absurd” paradigms or narratives of thought. This is how many “teaching stories” are presented in a seemingly illogical and/or irrational manner, so that they are not immediately picked up and assimilated by the dominant structure of your mental programming”.

Own your Sovereignty. K.S.Perl


This training involves a gradual access to a form of inner freedom, it is a working tool which, together with other inner practices, can help the activation and development of the inner organs of perception.

Let’s exercise, players, without being disheartened by “losses”. Let's imagine that these are like the ballast in a hot air balloon, the more we drop, the higher we can fly.

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