In the ancient Sanskrit language of India, the word leila means "divine play." The spirit of this word is that the divine universe is engaging in a playful game. The divine source, which is un-manifest, becomes manifest through an infinite number of playful creative moments. The many, manifest creations - like us - grow and learn and become aware of the divine source. This divine game - creation and awareness - underlies all that happens, all that we experience.
We are invited to play hide-and-seek with God! Join the fun.
I like this word leila, because it reminds us not to take our spiritual practice too seriously. The game is meant to be fun, and our life experience is meant to be joyful. When you join the game (the word join contains the word joy), you experience divine grace. The ancient Sanskrit word for join is yug, which is also the root of the modern word yoga. Our yoga practice is a path to join leila, to engage in divine playfulness. The product of our practice is joy.
Here's a metaphor I like to use in my practice. I call it "turning the camera around." Most of the time, our awareness is on the manifest world. We experience the perceptions of the senses as processed by the physical body. We act and interact with the world around us as we live our lives. And we discern, describe and use thought to decide how we want our world to be. We use the five gifts. In a meditation practice, we can bring stillness to our experience, and grow in awareness. We begin to see all that is, within the light of divine consciousness. We see ourselves, each of us, as a unique, divine creation - a sunbeam that emanates from the source, filling our world with light. This awareness allows us to experience the world as it truly is, a divine manifestation.
An yet, even this awareness is limited. We see all, in the light of the divine source, yet we continue to use the light to experience the manifest world. It is as if we have a camera, and we look one way only - at the manifest world. The sunbeam illuminates the world, for our lens to see. But, what would we see if we turn the camera around?
Well, at first we'd be dazzled by the light. We'd realize that the divine source is not hiding itself very well; rather, our uni-directional view obscures the sun. We'd get to say to God, "ahah! I found you!" And then, we get to play the game again, in each moment, forever. What fun!
Here's a meditation you can use:
Begin by sitting well and let yourself be still. Become aware of the gift of the physical body. Notice the structures and form of the body. Be grateful for this gift. Spend a few minutes in gratitude, aware of the gift of the physical body.
Become aware of the gift of life. Even as your body is still, notice the movements - the breath, the heartbeat, the blood circulating in your arteries and veins. Feel the pulsing life energy within and around your body. Be grateful for this gift. Spend a few minutes in gratitude, aware of the gift of life.
Become aware of the gift of thought. Notice how a thought will emerge in the mind-space, then move on, like clouds moving across the sky. Don't try to resist or change the thought that appears, and don't allow yourself to become lost in thought. Simply observe. Be grateful for this gift. Spend a few minutes in gratitude, aware of the gift of thought.
Become aware that you are the pure awareness that is aware of the gifts you've been given. You are the experience of "I am", that which experiences this moment. You are the sunbeam that illuminates the physical body, the life, and the thought. Be the light. Be grateful for this gift of pure awareness. Spend a few minutes in gratitude, as the gift of pure awareness.
You are the sunbeam that illuminates the gift of the physical body, the gift of life, the gift of thought, the gift of pure awareness. Now, turn the camera around, and see the sun. Be aware of the divine source. Bathe in the light, the grace, the joy and the love of the divine.
Let yourself play. Leila. Join the game.