When people think of spiritual practice, playfulness is not usually the first word that comes to mind. We might think that dancing on a beach or rolling around in the grass is playful, but that a spiritual practice must be the opposite: serious. I often see many people who follow a spiritual practice become very serious. If you think or practice something slightly different than what they practice, they even can become offended or angry. In a way, instead of finding spaciousness and freedom in their practice, they have put themselves in yet another box, the spiritual box.
We might begin a spiritual practice to step out of the boxes we put ourselves in during our daily life. But often we just replace that tight box of our normal daily life with a new tight box of a spiritual practice. We trade one rigid, constricting way of being for another rigid, constricting way of being. And because we call the new way spiritual practice, we may tell ourselves and others that this is great, this is better, this is how and who we want to be in our practice and in our life.
But in reality we practice a spiritual practice to lay bare our innate light. Many different traditions use the metaphor of light: clear light, great bright light, inner light, and light of life, just to name a few. This light can not be boxed in; it is the light of spiritual freedom and playfulness.
Look outside and see how the natural light plays through the leaves of the tree, how it glitters on the waves in the lake and how it dances around the streets. This natural light touches everything with a playfulness and with equality. No distinctions are being made, no labels are being placed, no judgments are being made by this light. Even if a big storm is brewing, the light plays and dances around and within the storm, the light dances freely in a playful manner.
Thus, we can start to see if we are practicing our spiritual practice in the truest way by looking at ourselves and seeing if we are still in our tight box, or if have we stepped out of the box and are becoming more playful. Look at the Dalai Lama, Shunryu Suzuki, Thich Nhat Hanh, Daehaeng Kun Sunim, and Mingyur Rinpoche, who have laid bare their inner light. Deep spiritual practice has not made them sober or serious; their eyes have a perpetual twinkle. They are so playful and their playful light has touched thousands of people. Their teachings are full of laughter, playfulness, and direct non-complicated wisdom. Due to having laid bare their innate playful light, they teach in a playful, joyful, and light manner. Whether we imagine them, or ourselves, rolling around in the grass or sharing wisdom in a class, the light and playfulness can shine through.
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