Practice Pages - Meditation

Go Outside and Play

A playful approach to meditation
From The Radiance Sutras,
A new translation of the vijnana bhairava tantra
by Dr. Lorin Roche

Go outside and play. Walk, skip, run, be free-spirited and wander. Take a dog or child to the beach and let them lead you into play. Toss a frisbee or a ball, build a sandcastle. Talk to the sky and the trees, as if they are friends. Do a Sun Salutation in a playful mood and whisper Surya to the Sun as if it were your best buddy. When we lose ourselves in play, we become our essential self. In play, we step outside ordinary life, free ourselves from its rules and goals, and enter a magical world. 

Now go inside and play. Enter the world of meditation with a playful attitude. Immediately, you will feel a sense of freedom and naturalness. Treat all your thoughts as frisbees flying from one side of the lawn to the other. Listen to all your inner conversations as if they were the lines for characters in a play or TV show. When your to-do list comes to mind, see it through the eyes of a child: 1. Draw a picture. 2. Play with my toys. 3. Sing a song. 4. Eat. 5. Drink. 

A delightful word in Sanskrit is lila, (leela) which means play, sport, diversion, amusement, pastime, child's play, ease or facility in doing anything, grace, charm, beauty, elegance, loveliness. Lila also has the connotation, the implied additional meaning, that the universe is a divine play, and we are participating in its unfoldment. We are invited to join in the play, be in on the secret. Play is divine and the universe is a magic show put on for our entertainment.  

Just for today, treat the outer world and your inner world as a magic show. Consider this meditation from The Radiance Sutras:

Contemplate the entire universe 
As a magic show 
On the grandest scale imaginable.
Fabulous art, an immense painting in motion.

God is a magician whirling galaxies of fire,
Juggling atoms, planets, and us.
Everything, everything is fleeting.

Meditating on this magic,  
Great happiness rises in the heart.

indrajālamayaṁ viśvaṁ vyastaṁ vā citrakarmavat|
bhramad vā dhyāyataḥ sarvam paśyataśca sukhodgamaḥ || 102 ||

indra–jaala–mayam vishvam vyastam vaa chitra karmavat
bhramad vaa dhyaayatah sarvam pashyatash cha sukhah ud-gamah

indrajāla, the net of indra, a weapon employed by Arjuna, sham, illusion, delusion, magic, sorcery, juggle, the art of magic.
vishva - to pervade, whole, entire, universal, all-pervading, omnipresent
vyasta - dismembered, divided, reverse, confused, bewildered, inherent in or pervading all the parts of anything
citrakarman - any extraordinary act, wonderful deed, magic, painting, picture, working wonders, a magician
bhrama - wandering or roaming about, roving, rolling (as of the eyes), revolving, rotation, a whirling flame, a whirlpool, eddy, a spring, fountain, watercourse, a potter's wheel, a grindstone, a circle, giddiness, dizziness, confusion, perplexity, error, mistake (mistaking anything for); transient
dhyāyatah - meditating
sarva - whole, entire, all, every, of all sorts, manifold
pasyat - seeing, beholding
Sukha - having a good axle-hole, running swiftly or easily, pleasant, gentle, mild, happy, prosperous
udgam - to come forth, appear suddenly, become visible, to rise (as a star), ascend, start

This whole universe is magic. Matter and light are fountaining out of nothing. Whirling flames fill the sky. It is all a kind of juggling. The world we see is art, the most wonderful creation, creativity is overflowing everywhere. Our senses receive the energies streaming in from the world and arrange it onto the canvas of our perception. Everything is moving, revolving - every particle of existence is on the potter’s wheel. Meditating on this, happiness comes spontaneously forth. 

This sutra suggests innumerable doors into meditation - take your pick. You can perceive the world around you as a kind of magic show, or as art, or as play, and any combination of these. How do we get ourselves into the mood to perceive the universe - including the inner universe of our thoughts and emotions and sensations - as a magic show? Go see Cirque du Soleil, a movie, a play, the Venice Boardwalk, Burning Man, the Planetarium. Look at photos of galaxies and find movie clips where you seem to zoom through space.Then as soon as you can, meditate and memorize the feeling. Take that magical, bemused enchantment into your inner world and rest there, and be delighted. Feel the stars rising in your inner sky.

Meditation is a kind of transformational play, in which we play the human instrument - the heart and mind and body - and transcend what we know to create a higher state of attunement. This is suggested by the word tantri, which means “string of a lute, the strings of the heart, any tubular vessel of the body.” Meditation - when we find a style that suits our nature - can be a process of tuning the strings of the heart, tuning all the tubes and nerves of the body.

Some treat meditation as a form of work, and try to be perfect, and this leads to using too much effort and the wrong kind of effort. A cherished skill in yoga is laghuhasta - “light-handed, possessing skill in the hands,” an easy, effortless confidence - just barely giving directions. People are way too serious about mantras, for example. You can play with mantras, the sounds you listen to in meditation. Read a comic book and notice how the sound effects are like bija mantras: AIEEE and VROOOM and ZING and KRING. Listen to children expressing joy: WOW and WHEEE and YAAAAY! Little mantras everywhere, each with a personality, like cartoon characters, they sizzle and dance. Tune in and let natural mantras teach you. Notice that mantra-like sounds arise in you spontaneously when you are experiencing joy and feeling YES to something. 

Meditating playfully teaches us new ways to use our senses when we are at play in the world. Our perception opens to receive the many gifts of this bewildering magic show we call life.


A Child’s To Do List
Pasted Graphic
Source: BoingBoing (actual source debatable)

Hipster to DO List - Found in a hip San Francisco Bar
Busy hipsters have epic to-do lists
Pasted Graphic 1
Source: BoingBoing and MissionMission

Sanskrit transliteration phonetic: “indra–jaala–mayam vishvam vyastam . . .”
Done with Dr. John Casey

Sukha is a great word.

Here is the Monier-Williams definition


And from: A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: With References to the Best Editions of Sanskrit Authors and Etymologies and Comparisons of Cognate Words Chiefly in Greek, Latin, Gothic, and Anglo-Saxon (Google eBook) Longmans, Green, 1866 - 1145 pages:


sukhá--hasta [p= 1221,3] [L=245831]
having a soft or gentle hand