Friday, January 29, 2010

Persona

There is an ancient Hindu myth in which the sustaining force in universe, or God as it is sometimes referred in the West, manifests all that is within universe in a dream. As God dreams, it projects tiny holographic specks of itself to materialize the physical universe. God assumes the roles of galaxies, stars, the planets… the myriad creatures of universe (such as you and me) and thus becomes completely immersed in strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. Since God is all there is within (& without) universe and since there is no “other” in which to play with, God plays this cosmic game of “hide & seek” with itself. Hence these adventures we call life, take the form of a great cosmic game or play within the dream of God.

In the heat of game-play within this ultimate (cosmic) RPG, God temporarily forgets its true nature of oneness. This forgetfulness seems to span the entire cycle of universe. Eventually, God awakens from the many dreams and fantasies and remembers its true identity, the one and eternal Self of the cosmos who is never born and never dies. Thus universe goes round… now advancing… now receding… for eternity

Leela is a concept within Hinduism, literally meaning "pastime", "sport" or "play". It is a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play by the divine absolute. We can apply this mythos to humanity’s many societies and cultures… past and present. We can understand our trials and tribulations as a kind of play or drama which is being acted out by the eternal Self of universe. God hides in the roles and personalities of separate entities. We… as the manifestation of those entities… seek.

The trick is that we, as autonomous expressions of the cosmic Self, have mistaken the mask of individuation for reality. The word “personality” comes from the Latin word “persona,” which originally referred to an actors mask. When we accept entry into the game and assume a mask (or masks) as a player, awareness of unity is lost in the fascination of game-play. This illusion of separateness is created by the veiling power of the cosmic Self. This veiling power is called Maya in the Hindu system.

It could be argued that the ultimate goal of the individual in this cosmic game is to awaken to understanding that all is one. All of our strange and wonderful adventures, all of our terrible and frightening experiences are in essence the seeking of the divine within us. We seek… in hopes of glimpsing God behind the curtain of maya and experiencing the epiphany of enlightenment... to remove our masks. We strive to call out: olly olly oxen free! …and end the game of hide and seek… and perhaps to go home, arm in arm, knowing that the game had ended well.

On the other hand, it may be that the essential value lay not in the end result but in the playing of the game. It may be that it is not the destination but the journey that is important. Awareness of unity is of consequence, but let us not forget the importance of the “play”. Our experience of individual autonomous consciousness is the fun, the wonder and perhaps the point of our existence. After all… if God wants us to be the “eyes of the world”… to be the perceptive organs of universe… to play out the adventure...who are we to second guess?

If this be the case, then may we wear our masks well, play the game to its fullest and in the end, may we go home arm in arm, knowing that the game had ended well.
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