LIFE IS A DRAMATIC PLAY OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Life is a dramatic play of consciousness. If you understand that the spiritual experience is simply just being present within experience, you will see that performance and art re-creates the spiritual experience at it’s very core. To express shared emotions and experiences through imaginative play.
When we perform, or create art of any kind we are engaging with play. Just as children do when they perceive the world to be magic.
When we engage in play, we are liberated. We are liberated because we are having a creative experience with the awareness that we are not that experience.
There is a Sanskrit word for this: Lila (लीला).
This is roughly translated as ‘play’, ‘sport’ or ‘drama’. In Hinduism, it is a way of describing reality to be a form of ‘divine play’. Lila denotes a spontaneous, creative activity performed by the Brahman (the one, ultimate consciousness). The relationship between this ‘divine play’ and the consciousness of the Brahman is a large part of our journey on Earth.
We are the Brahman consciousness that engages with play. This consciousness connects with others through play, as we are all Brahman. This is how we form our relationships; we remember our deep union with one another as we identify shared experiences of ‘Lila’ that we connect to.
This is why an audience will all cheer together at the end of a play performed on stage. The audience know it to be pretend, but as a collective they celebrate the fact they went through a shared, cathartic experience together.
ART AND PERFORMANCE AS A SPIRITUAL ACT
I studied scriptwriting and performance at university. This was a huge part of my awakening. I got to explore the imagination and the seemingly unreal. Through performing myself, and also studying performance I got to explore the pretend as real. I got to observe a whole myriad of human emotions. Pain, jealously, yearning, love, loss, anger, frustration… and through this I realised that feelings are shared between us all. They are the dance that connects us together and pulls us apart. The only difference is the identity we mask them with. The story that guides these emotions and weaves them together.
The performer puts on an act, and performs it as if it were real. The only way to invoke the emotional power that audiences crave is to completely commit to the character. Despite this, the performer still knows that they are on a stage. I found awakening to be a lot like this. You must still ground yourself in the story, whilst holding the awareness that you are performing.
An actor on stage does not go round wondering why they are on stage.
NO NEED TO SEEK, THE POINT IS THE PLAY
When we come to this earth we go through an amnesia to the nature of our souls. This is what makes this human journey so exciting. Many go on a spiritual search. They call themselves seekers. But as soon as you start to seek, you miss the point.
You miss that the very point is the play itself. You cannot become closer to god by trying to escape your mundane experiences.
When I was a child I had a dream that I have never forgotten. I had gone to sleep crying that same night, praying to whatever God that might be out there for answers. My dream consisted of me talking to a giant head that I perceived to be God. I was very excited to be able to ask all sorts of questions, and felt a great sense of peace. However, this figure was just smiling at me and not really answering any of my questions. I looked round and saw a game of cricket happening behind me. This ‘God’ looked at me and told me that there was all time in the world to know the answers, but it was my time to play the game! God guided me over to the match and told me to just enjoy the game, because I’d been waiting to play for some time. God also told me that they’d be present the entire time.
This dream always stuck with me. It informed much of the philosophy that I live by now and made me see the importance of immersing yourself in play, rather than spending most of your time worrying about why you are playing.
THE MAGIC OF CHILDHOOD NEVER LEFT US
When we grow up we often feel like the magic of life has dissipated. That somehow we are wiser, and that we know so much more than our children. Playing becomes a pointless exercise. But what we forget, is that the magic never left us. Children create their own magic through the imagination of performance.
When a child is given a stick, and is told that it is a magic wand, they will prance about casting spells and feeling like they hold the magic of the entire universe in their hands. When their mother tells them it’s time to stop playing the child will put it back down into the earth, knowing it was a stick the entire time. But they will have completely convinced themselves whilst they were playing because they intuitively understand that it’s much more fun when you play with sincerity. As the actor must completely believe in his part to reach the ebb and flows of emotion that makes the whole experience satisfactory.
GIVE YOUR OWN LIFE MEANING
When you do this, you are indulging yourself in the very meaning behind your life; to be the one to give it meaning in the first place. To create. To express our shared emotional experience.
To present these shared emotions and say… hey! This is me!
To illustrate experiences you have, and give it a name… a colour… a shape. And in the end, still understand that it is an expression, and not a permanent identity that you are chained to.
LIFE IS A CREATIVE ACT
Ultimately, life is a creative act. There is no destination, or journey, just dramatic play. This has the same sentiment as performance, or any form of art. I like to describe it almost as a meta – acknowledgement of the souls journey.
“All the world’s a stage” – William Shakespeare.
This notion makes all art, performance and play self-contain a deep irony, treating reality as theatrical. We are constantly spontaneously improvising our lives and playing out roles. Art and performance just do this with self-awareness.