On the surface, the world may appear to have many challenges and it’s easy to get distracted or even overwhelmed by them. However, whenever we allow ourselves to play, we slip beyond everyday limitations and into a realm of infinite possibilities, joy and love. Play should be an essential part of everyone’s life, because the real reason that we’re here is to play. Let’s go back in time. Actually, let’s go back to before time, before space, before everything.
According to the Vedic Aitareya Upanishad, before the creation of our universe, there was only the Self, “Nothing else whatsoever winked.” There was a Oneness, holding everything in pure, silent, unbounded potential. The Self desired for creation, but as it is complete within itself, it has no desires as we would understand them. Therefore, the whole manifest creation is the play of the Self.
The Universe at Play
See if you can imagine being before creation, just resting in eternal silence as the Self. Nothing exists, the Self moves within itself, the universe begins to manifest, and the great play of life begins. The whole universe emerges to be fun, to be playful. Imagine those first moments of creation, the laughter, the joy, the bliss, vibrating and echoing out to become mountains, trees, rivers, birds, animals, humans and all of creation. Imagine everything and everyone in the whole world playing and laughing together. This was our universe before we started taking everything seriously, before we mistakenly saw things as separate, before we forgot who we truly are - the Self playing.
However, underneath all the seriousness, the drama, the confusion and chaos of our daily lives, the playing still continues. It always has and always will, it is the constant unfoldment of creation. We just need to stop, be very quiet and still, and listen. Step out of the noise and you’ll hear the flowers laughing, feel the playfulness in a summer breeze, see the smile in a rainbow, laugh with the Divine telling jokes. The whole universe is the divine play of consciousness, the Lila. Join in the fun and games or continue struggling, it’s a choice.
Our spiritual practices are the path back to Reality but have to be filled with joyful playfulness. We can only reach the goal of enlightenment by lightening up. There’s a story about what happens when we die physically and arrive at the gates of paradise. There the angel of paradise will greet us holding a scale. On one side of the scale is a feather. The angel will reach into our chest and take our heart, placing it on the other side of the scale. If our heart is heavier than the feather, the angel will sigh sadly and send us back to be reincarnated on earth, as we still have lessons to learn. If, however, our heart is lighter than the feather, the angel smiles and welcomes us through the gates of paradise and into all the joy and bliss that lie beyond.
Infinite Possibilities for Joy
But we don’t have to wait until paradise to enjoy the bliss, why not have it here, right now? When you were a child, did you enjoy playing hide and seek? Well, this happens to be the play of creation. Everything we experience through our senses is the Self hiding in different disguises, waiting to be discovered. Our role in the game of life is to enjoy the outer costumes, but recognize the same divinity is concealed beneath each one. To remember that every moment contains infinite possibilities for joy. To break free from the prison of self-inflicted limitations. The angel of paradise is watching us with its head in its hands thinking, this was supposed to be so much fun, just look what they’ve done with it. We each have a joyful, creative, playful person hidden deep within us. Isn’t it time to let it out? Time to start having fun again!
We were born with infinite possibilities. Do you remember when you were a child, how you thought you could do anything? Well, you still can. It is said that God is simple, everything else is complex. Children live close to God’s simplicity, clear, loving, spontaneous, infinitely flexible and ready each moment to wonder and accept a miracle. During my time working for Chopra, I have had many people share their life’s challenges with me. While I always try to be sympathetic and offer advice, I often ask them what they do for fun. You’d be amazed at how many times I’m answered with a blank stare as if I’m speaking a foreign language. What do you do for fun? How often do you find yourself smiling for no particular reason? Do you laugh at yourself or sometimes walk around singing or whistling? In one of his songs, Paul Simon sang, “I’ve got nothing to do today but smile”. Maybe you can’t always be that carefree but please, learn to lighten up.
A Fulfilled Life
When we play, we step out of our usual reality and lose ourselves in a fantasy world of roles we create. The original role for humanity was one of playful joy, love, peace and harmony. Unfortunately, we stepped out of that role and became lost in a melodramatic rollercoaster of good and bad scenes, which we have sadly taken to be true. Our job now is to awaken from this dream and realize that we are the Self, the role-player within all these roles. We can enjoy this creation but know that it is not real. To discover the Real, we must go beyond the unreal. The spiritual teacher Mother Meera said, “When you know you are eternal you can play your true role in time. When you know you are Divine you can become completely human. When you know you are one with God you are free to become absolutely yourself.” A fulfilled life is a divine life, where we live in the eternal freedom of knowing who we truly are, fully embracing our role in creation.
In his song Imagine, John Lennon asked us to imagine a world with no separation, no hunger or greed. A world where everyone lives in peace, harmony, equality and oneness. In other words, imagine an enlightened world, imagine the world that the Self is longing to show us. We use our imagination multiple times every day. When you plan your day, you are actually using your imagination, visualizing how you are going to do each task. When you give directions to someone, you see the route in your imagination. When you prepare a meal, you plan it first in your imagination. The whole universe is the Self displaying itself in infinite ways. As part of creation, we too are part of the Self, creating and co-creating with everything around us. Imagination is the first step in the creative process. Why not imagine that perfect, enlightened world and then create it.
The true universe is a cosmic dance with everything flowing harmoniously in tune with a divine melody. Unfortunately, we’ve become tone deaf, and show up wearing hiking boots, clumping around and stepping on everyone’s toes. The Sufi Poet Rumi said, “Those seen dancing were thought to be mad by those who couldn’t hear the music”. It’s time to hear the music and join the dance of life, the wondrous play of creation.