“My basic tenent, and I wont hide this from you, is that the universe is inherently playful…”
Alan Watts, in “Learning the Human Game”
Alan’s perspective here of the universe being inherently playful is contrasted in his presentation to the common perspective that lies underneath Western Culture and Christian Theology, which is that of the inherently serious nature of the Kosmos. The church must be free of laughter and must have order, God is a domineering Father figure who, contrary to his stated position on what is the best path, is judgmental, critical, and wrathful, punishing his students when they stray from the way that they should be acting. Seeing the universe as inherently playful draws a stark and perhaps enlivening contrast, as it illustrates a universe more aligned with the Hindu Archetype of Lila…
“Within monism, Lila is a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome
of creative play by the divine absolute (Brahman).” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lila
The notion of the universe as either inherently playful, as Alan Watts proposes, or as the outcome of creative play by the divine absolute, as Hindu Theology indicates, invites ones personal inquiry to the question of how me might see our endeavors and the investment of our creative energies as a matter of seriousness vs. a matter inherently infused with playfulness, with lightness, with a certain candor.
To contrast this in ones personal inquiry, one might look at the areas on ones personal inquiry that feel the most serious, and the spiritual seeker may ask him or herself what each area would look life if seen as inherently playful, and as the outcome of creative play by the divine absolute, of the numinescent realms of existence.
A practice for integrating this.
1) Describe the 5 areas of your personal inquiry that feel the most serious.
2) Describe how each of these areas would change if seen as inherently playful, or as the outcome of the creative play of the absolute, of the non physical spaciousness of existance.
Suggested reading: Alan Watts, “Learning the Human Game”
read on to see a sample of this practice completed by myself.
I’ll go first:
1) Breaking downward spirals in intimate relationships
If seen as inherently playful, I would laugh at my total contraction and intensity on this topic and invite myself to play really fully with these moments. I would invite, specifically, that when I judge a conversation to be a downward spiral, that I Identify the part of me that is feeling judgmental and I would express it non verbally, with interpretive body movements, and exaggerate it until I am on the ground laughing. I would invite my partner to play the muse, and to egg me on with statements like “Make that bigger!”, and “really go for it!”…
2) Trying to meditate when I really want to go into overdrive with seeking different circumstances in my life… to reaching outside of myself for solace through another human being.
If seen as inherently playful, I would pick up a microphone in these moments and set up a video that repeatedly invited me into a deeper and bigger expression of the seeking mind, and I would record poetry in the full expression of my seeking mind… the video, after saying “express from the voice of the seeking mind,” and “make that bigger” and “embody it” 5 times, would say, now express from the voice of the non-seeking mind… I would drop through the drama, into my truth, and the unexplainable perfection of that moment, and I would continue sharing poetry when and if something wanted to express itself through me in that moment.
3) The reason that I am without money and in debt constantly.
If seen as inherently playful, I would ask someone to stand in for the archetype of money, and I would have a clearing, but not before whining, complaining, and playing the victim for a couple of minutes. Then I would have an authentic clearing, just as I would with another human being. I would answer the questions…
1) what is the data 2) what is the judgment I am holding 3) what are the feelings I am nurturing 4) can I see this archetype as a mirror, and if so, what can I OWN about this, 5) am I willing to withdraw any of my judgments? 6) what do I want for the archetype of money? 7) what do I want for myself in this relationship?
4) the reason I give up early on difficult undertakings
If seen as inherently playful, I would write a guitar song, freely and fully expressing the part of me that wants to give up when faced with difficulty, and fully exaggerating that part of myself. Then, I would record it with video to have as a reference to laugh at the absolute ridiculousness of my ego when I want to give up, and finally I would complete this by fully and openly embracing, allowing, accepting, and loving the part of me that wants to give up in the face of adversity and difficulty.
5) Why I seem to value the opinions of others more then I value my own opinions about my worth, my value, my gifts, my validity and my direction in life.
If seen as an outcome of the creative play of the absolute, I would take this as a divine comedy. I would create a plot line and make a movie about my life journey and I would over exaggerate the part of me that values other peoples opinions more then I value my own. I would look deeply at this comedy through the lens of Zen Buddhism, Tantric Yogic Philosophy, and Living Systems Theory, and would have characters that represent those perspectives appear synchronisitically in my characters life… each reflecting the perspectives that they represent. My seeking of thier approval would be met with alternative perspectives, leading to fundamental insights, and through the plot I would awaken to an integral worldview… This would make the divine comedy of my life a catalyst for insight for others.
Wow! That practice was incredibly liberating for me. I am on the verge of tears at present, with how available my gifts are in this life. The plot of that movie would let me use the turbulence of my “seriousness” as a vehicle to help others… Thank You, Thank you, Thank you to Alan Watts, to Hindu Mythology, and to the inspiration that I receive from preparing for my Masters Degree at JFK