The right relationship to have with existence
One of the interesting ideas I see pop up in a few traditions is the idea of a ‘playful universe’.
That’s not always how the idea is expressed, and it doesn’t mean you can’t also have a wrathful and angry God playing lord of the playground, but the idea is there. The universe is not inanimate and static. It is responsive and intelligent.
It’s an idea that’s picked up a bit of currency recently with the new age movement, though I think when you uproot that idea from a broad and deep spiritual traditions where it grew up, and run with it in isolation, it can end up a bit ‘ungrounded’.
For example, ‘focus passionately on what you want, and the playful universe will respond’ may be true. But it perhaps needs a disclaimer that says, ‘focusing passionately on what you want, without balancing it with compassion and concern for others, turns you into a selfish and miserable turd’.
(But no one wants to hear that. I can’t turn that into an Amazon best seller.)
But for me, I really like to focus on the ‘playful’ nature of existence. More than ‘responsive’ or more than ‘compassionate’. I like playful because it points to a particular kind of relationship.
That is, we have to be careful not to make our prayers too ‘transactional’. The universe is not a shop where we wander in and go, “ohh. I like that car. How many prayers is that?”
That’s not how the universe works, and I actually think it’s kind of insulting and disrespectful to approach it that way.
“Play” is a different matter. There is a playing field and a set of rules, but beyond that, it’s pure creativity.
The question is, where does your creativity and my creativity meet? This is a fun space to enter.
And we enter into it with a massively superior, practically infinite, intelligence.
Think about a mother playing with a child. She reads the child’s impulses, anticipates where the child is going, adds to it.
“Oh look, you put goggles on your teddy bear. And now look, he’s skiing.”
That intelligence knows you better than you know yourself. And it just wants to play with you.
So let yourself be seen. Let everything about you be out in the open and on display. There’s no hiding it anyway.
And then come humbly, the way a boy takes his bat and ball to his Dad and asks him to play.
And come ready to enter into relationship – a to and fro – a giving and receiving of energy.
A relationship in service to fun, and creativity and expression.
That’s what it feels like to me anyway.