Take one method and play with it for at least 3 days. If it gives you a certain feeling of affinity, if it gives you a certain feeling of well-being, if it gives you a certain feeling that this is for you, then be serious about it.
Osho, The Book of Secrets, Ch 1
With these words, Osho encourages us to explore the 112 meditation techniques from The Book of Secrets. The blog post below is part of a series of chats with people, who travelled the path with one of the meditations for a longer period of time. The person telling the fourth story spent years deeply involved with the Book of Secrets. He was one of the designers of the 2-volume edition with the 112 cards.
Once the design of the Book of Secrets was complete and finally published, I wanted to find out which sutra would be the one for me. I took half a day to really give myself time to feel into all the cards. Following Osho’s guidance, I started with reading the sutras on the 112 cards and chose 21. Then I selected 7 of these, and out of the 7 finally 3. One sutra spoke to me strongly: Gracious one, play. The universe is an empty shell wherein your mind frolics infinitely.
I knew it well, because it was one of the cards I had designed.
This technique is about life, your attitude to life. I’ve been always interested in playfulness. Being playful means that you just enjoy the present activity and you are not focusing on the end result. Really, this meditation can be used for everything: for work, for relating, for self-love, for difficult situations, for cooking, for painting, for everything. Instead of approaching life looking for achievement, you hand it over to existence. And it doesn’t stop at any point in life; it is an ongoing quest.
Here is a story. I am an artist and I was earning my living with selling the paintings. I remember standing in front of a large finished painting and asking my wife: “What do you think?” She replied that she was missing the element of playfulness in it. I could see that she was right, but what to do now? In order to bypass my controlling mind, I took the brush into my non-dominant hand, closed my eyes and continued painting. Over the finished painting! My mind was screaming that I would destroy it, that I should stop. When I opened my eyes, I could see that the missing ingredient of freedom and playfulness was right there – on the canvas.
My experience with playfulness is such, that there is always an element of courage and risk involved. In this serious world approaching things playfully you can easily be judged a fool or a bit stupid.
Just simple acts like walking from A to B. Mostly we are busy thinking and focusing about getting to the final destination fast. Or you can bring in a tiny unexpected element – a little skip, a twirl – that makes you smile and celebrates the moment. This is my quest and challenge every day; it never stops. Usually, we think that play has to do with board games and card games, football, performing or dancing. The attitude of playfulness, however, can infuse any action or situation. It means that I have a choice: I can be serious, burdened, worried about the end result or easy and relaxed enjoying the process. This is particularly interesting in situations that are difficult to deal with like physical pain, fear, or sickness – even facing death. The sutra tells me that I can be playful even then.
I just want to be clear: being playful goes deep. It is not just acting like a child. It means connecting with the source of creativity, allowing it, stepping out of the way. It means taking a risk. You might appear ridiculous or strange to others. You drop the idea of the result, the purpose. It takes courage. At the moment, I am faced with the prospect of a major knee reconstruction on a leg that already had an operation years ago. This brings up fears. The thought of possibly being wheelchair-bound is scary. How will I deal with the pain and discomfort associated with it? Situations like this are the real test. How does the message of play fit into this scenario?
Even though I have a natural tendency to be playful, I would have never thought that play could be a meditation. In my mind, meditation was something serious, where people were sitting or fasting. It had some element of hardship and austerity, which gave it an aura of respectability. In contrast, play was – well, just play. Something you do in your free time. The message of this sutra Gracious one, play has been a wonderful gift in my life. It has stayed with me all these years and I am still exploring the boundaries of it. I never felt that I needed anything else. This doesn’t mean that I’m against silent sitting! I sit silently regularly, and this can be playful too.
You can find Osho’s commentary on this meditation in chapter 79 of The Book of Secrets.