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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Way of Grace

Laugh, Play, Celebrate

Spiritual life means having fun, being really happy -- to smile from the core of your heart.

Laughter and play may be considered unnecessary for spiritual growth. In some strict spiritual settings humor may even be shunned or discouraged.

But a spiritual life is not a dry life. On the contrary, laughter bursts forth naturally from those who are growing in divine love. Everywhere the celebration of life is felt.

The Master has a unique ability to bring out profound wisdom in such a playful and sometimes mischievous manner. Often he is the instigator of practical jokes. People's shoes have "walked off all by themselves." Audiences have been shot with a huge water gun. There was a time course participants were dir-ected to gather their belongings and reassemble in a different building, only to return to their original hall. Once again settled and comfortable they were told to move a third time! Similar things happen on courses that are beyond imagination.

These pranks can really "push your buttons." "How disorganized this course is!" some complain. But behind these escapades there is a purpose. They help us realize that life is just a game that can never touch or disturb the deepest level of who we are. When we learn to handle such small inconveniences without losing our smile, we have taken a big step towards happiness in all of life.

People often take spirituality so seriously, or conversely, make games into war. Then all the charm of life is lost. Great teachers of all cultures have taught that one must become like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven -- simple, natural, playful, innocent. Enlightenment is living life playfully in the present moment.

Usually play is something we do for relaxation -- a time when we "get away from it all" and enjoy ourselves. But when we can see our whole life as a game, we relax and enjoy each day without becoming so somber. Whether working, driving, shopping, visiting friends, taking a walk or just doing nothing, the joy and peace remains, independent of anything external. We become free.

This is the art of living -- when our periodic fun times become a lasting experience of joy. When the present is lived so fully that we stop clinging to the past and worrying about the future. When we can laugh from the depths of our being. When each day is a celebration.

One smile
enough to blow away years of misery.
One smile
and I melt at your feet.
One smile
and my heart bursts with fullness
One smile
and I feel so near to you.
One smile
and all I can do
is thank you.
One smile
and I know I'm
taken care of.
One smile...!
-- Daren Black

The Master is a paradox of knowledge and playfulness, of intelligence and innocence. He is "all-knowing" and he is "not knowing," simultaneously.

He can discern the secret thoughts of any person or see what is happening at any distance in the world. Yet he may be found looking everywhere for his keys. This behavior bewilders newcomers at first.

The Master laughs and explains that all of life is a game. If you knew everything beforehand, would you want to play? It is ignorance of the outcome that makes any game charming and sincere. From this angle, even ignorance has its value in life. It brings honesty into your play.

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