Reflections Our Propensity to Play
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Regular spiritual practice, which includes living a life in goodness (sattva), studying the Vedic scriptures, serving Deity forms of Krishna, chanting the maha-mantra and other prayers, associating with persons of similar interest and inviting saints to our home, help us be in a receptive mood to learn from every circumstance and person we encounter. Then, while living and working, we will be spiritually philosophical, and open to the lessons all around us, which bring the scriptures to life. This means that we become gradually awake and sensitive to the spiritual dimension. Although souls are covered by their material bodies and minds, they non-the-less still have certain tendencies that point to their eternal nature. Of late I have noted with interest the tendency of living beings to play.
Living in, and surrounded by forest, from our windows or by sitting outside, all kinds of living beings unknowingly share parts of their lives with us. Although it is the middle of winter, many birds and animals remain active. In Nature’s classroom, I have noticed what appears to be an innate propensity to play, and considered how this is connected to Krishna, and our nature as souls. Sitting in our sun room, my wife noticed the play of squirrels chasing one another by amazing acrobatic leaps from branch to branch. On another day, in the morning, I observed with fascination a large family of about twelve Blue jays, flying after each other in the air, onto trees, to the ground, and repeating the cycle, apparently exerting tremendous energy—it likely keeps them warm, yet I thought there must be more to it than that. Material functionality still points to a spiritual source. As if to put this all together for me, the local dogs, emerging from their evening rest, come together by happily wrestling, playfully chasing, and softly biting one another, oblivious to their surroundings.
Considering the play of animals and birds, and also thinking of playful dolphins, I reflected that as human beings, no one really likes to work all the time, and so, we try to make time for play, joking, and laughter. Who are the highest paid persons? In general, the entertainers, or those who play for a living, like athletes. In baseball, they don’t say, “Work ball,” they say, “Play ball.” Or musician’s “play” their instruments, and share their play with us by creating beautiful music and songs, by which various aspects of life are celebrated. Please also consider children’s propensity to play all day—is it only biology? Although we mature adults, eventually want the children to grow up, and give up their childish propensities, everyone wants to play. (Why is Peter Pan so appealing to adults and children alike—does this story tell us something about our soul’s desire?) Playing is considered part of joyfully life, as in the idea that all work and no play, is not a happy life.
If we study the Vedic devas, or empowered gods and goddesses, we see that they all have some function, or work in the maintenance of the world. Whether Indra, giving rain, Agni, fire, Vayu, air, Surya, the sun, Brahma, creating, or Shiva, destroying, they all have some function in practical necessities. While Lord Vishnu is the supreme maintainer, He non-the-less, does so by His energies, and isn’t directly in contact with matter—still, He is seen with a function in the world. Krishna, however, is simply playing in loving relationships, and by playing His flute, all living being dance in joyous celebration. Some wonder about this aspect of Krishna simply playing all the time—how could He be the all-powerful God?
In our experience, if we want to play, or take a vacation, we have to have some power, or money saved up, so we can take time off from work. So Krishna, having supreme and unlimited power and wealth, has no need to work, and can simply be on a permanent vacation of endless loving relationships. When Krishna comes to Earth, He does so partially to exhibit the Supreme Play of the Absolute, in order to attract us from the work of the world, to become attracted to spiritual loving relationships. Krishna is God, in his most intimate, loving aspect, who for loves sake, has hidden His Divinity to facilitate the highest love. If He exhibited Himself as the All-Powerful God, as He did to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita when he revealed His Universal Form, we would step back in awe and reverence, Om Namo Namaha, and thus loss all possibility of love. Krishna is the heart of Divinity, when He wants to be Himself and share love with those who love Him.
In this world we see that famous people don’t want to always be in the spotlight; they are burdened by the paparazzi who prevent them from relaxing, so they want to sneak out and not be recognized. This gives us some clue how the Supreme Person isn’t interested in the fanfare of being God, and is even bored by the official prayers of those souls who only want some of what He has (karmis), or want His knowledge (jnanis), or His power (yogis), or even to be Him, by merging into His effulgence or Brahman. As part of Him, we see that we are most interested in love and relationships, so this propensity is fully present in God, and in developed souls. And what do we like to do with our lovers or friends: play, celebrate, dance!
So Krishna is saying to us, that to realize our completeness and the perfection of our propensity to love, enjoy, and play: “Come to me, and surrender your material conceptions of life, work, and religion, and return to the land of love, celebration, faith, and play, My Supreme and spiritual abode.” No one can play and love better than Krishna and His devotees. So come on, let us take to devotional service, as the solution to our primal problem of separation from the Love and Player of the stings of our heart. Chant Hare Krishna and make that your celebration and play! Give, serve, love, play and pray to Krishna!
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare