“Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.”
British philosopher Alan Watts says that, in our modern society we make an extremely rigid division between work and play. We are supposed to work in order to earn enough money to give you sufficient leisure time for something entirely different called having fun or play. Can we be completely engaged with what we are doing in the here and now. Instead of calling it work, can we realise this as play? In the Hindu philosophy the whole creation is regarded as Vishnu lila – the play of Vishnu, the creator. Lila means dance or play, from which we get the word lilt. Hinduism also considers the world an illusion. In Latin the root of the word illusion is ludere – to play.
According to Watts, the art to washing dishes is that, you only have to wash one at a time. If you are doing it day after day, you may have in your mind’s eye an enormous stack of filthy dishes which you washed in the years past and an enormous stack of dishes which you will wash in the future. But if you bring in your mind the state of reality which is only now, this is where we are, this is only now. You only have to wash one dish. This is the only dish you will ever have to wash right now. Just this one. You wouldn’t stew over it. Because in reality the past is over and the future has not occurred yet. There is only now. So when we wash, instead of focussing on the stain that we want to remove, can we make a dance of it, with rinsing movement going, then you place it on the rack and take the next one and you got this rhythm going. This mundane work becomes play.
“You need not worry about your worries. Just be. Do not try to be quiet; do not make ‘being quiet’ into a task to be performed. Don’t be restless about ‘being quiet’, miserable about ‘being happy’. Just be aware that you are and remain aware – don’t say: ‘yes, I am; what next?’ There is no ‘next’ in ‘I am’. It is a timeless state.”