Lila as inquiry


Stories are really questions about the world, which means they are an invitation for inquiry.

The story of lila, of God playing hide and seek with itself, is just such a story, as Alan Watts so elegantly shows in this talk on Hinduism.

:: each dream a full life, what content would I choose? ::

Just as a thought experiment, say that each night I dreamt a full human life, from birth to death, in great detail. And say I could choose the content of these dreams, with no limitations.

What would I do?

Maybe we would start with a few months of dreams that fulfills all our most immediate desires. Then, it may get a little boring, so why not add some drama? And to spice it up, why not forget within the dream that it is a dream? And to really make it juicy, why not take it to an extreme?

:: each day the same day, how would I want to live it? ::

I just watched Groundhog Day for the first time (better late than never), and that story too is really a question for ourselves, an invitation to inquiry. If I lived the same day over and over, how would I live that day? How would I, eventually, want to live that day?

I may get afraid. Then angry and frustrated. Then try to find a way out. Then get nihilistic and live without regards for others. Then manipulate to get what I want. And then see that none of those are really doing it for me. I may give up, and in that giving up, find some peace with what is. And maybe even love for what is, trying to make the best out of it, live that day in a way that is more meaningful and nurturing for me.


:: tracing desires back, what do I find? ::

And then there are other types of inquiries, such as the one recommended by Adyashanti. Take any desire, especially the ones that seem the most petty and unenlightened, ask yourself what you hope to get from it, and follow that chain all the way back until you can’t go any further.

For me, I find that I end up in the same place, no matter which desire I start with. I want happiness, and freedom from suffering.

With the lila inquiry, we may see that what we want is how life already is. Our conscious view and what is become a little more closely aligned.

The Groundhog Day inquiry may help us see how we really want to live life, after we have worn out most of the surface confusion.

The chain of wants inquiry helps us to see what we really want, and that it is pure innocence. Nothing to try to push away, although we may reconsider our strategies sometimes.

And inquiries themselves have their own set of questions. What happens when I look with sincerity? When I take time to feel into the questions and what comes up for me around it? When I ask the question, and wait for the answer to surface on its own? Am I OK with answers that don’t fit my expectations, including the ones created by the examples above?

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