Why? Simply Be-Cause. Alan Watts on “The Playful Universe”

“Existence, the physical universe, is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t have a destination that it ought to arrive at.” (Alan Watts).  Enjoy the short video.

In our endless quests for causes and reasons, it’s delightful to remember that however you look at it, the Universe didn’t “have to” become itself.  In that sense, it is like play: Be-coming simply Be-cause.  Pure delight.


casey, michelle, leif

The trouble with words like ‘divine’ and ‘play’…

How often do you let a deep sense of delight guide how you live your life?

One of the challenges with the work I do is that it often involves using “trigger” words -words that trigger past pain or conjure assumptions in ways that don’t end up serving either of us.

On that note, my most recent series of retreats about ‘Divine Play’ could be considered a double whammy!  Any ‘spiritual’ language is often going to quickly summon fierce inner guard dogs. And ‘play’ for many people, well, it’s just not something to take ‘seriously’. 🙂

Yet if you read on for a few more paragraphs, you might discover a possibility that could alter your life. Let me share what I’m really trying to say. Try to listen a little deeper behind the words…

On ‘Play’
When one has an attitude of play -of curiosity, exploration, creative experimentation, following delight, connecting with others, etc. -fresh life-altering discoveries can be made and our best ‘work’ is often done. Play is how we grew up and actually how we keep growing up. And, as plenty of research is now showing, it’s also how we stay young at heart, healthy and vitalized.

On ‘Divine’
While words will always fall short, especially in this domain, we all hold something as sacred, as special, as central to what makes “Life” most Alive. Whether one is most comfortable calling it a mystery, Love, God, the laws of the Universe, our heart of hearts, family, nature, Source, Spirit, etc., this central core is what I mean by ‘Divine’ and keep us all on the same playing field.

On ‘Lila/Divine Play’
If the most delightful and effective way to grow is through play, and if the Divine is that which we consider most makes our lives worth living, most delight-full, what would happen if you allowed yourself to fully integrate the two, not letting any fears, judgments, ego or other challenges get in the way?

My hope is that you already have plenty of support, environments, communities and opportunities where that is happening. If not, I strongly encourage you to seek it out. Seek out friendships, groups, classes, events, communities that are full of respect, mutual appreciation, and that allow you to playfully explore and grow into that which makes you feel fully alive, connected, creative and divinely delighted. As a participant from last weekend’s Lila Retreat said -“I realized that these aspects are what make life worth living.” (More Lila stories can be found here)

So, come join us for a Lila Retreat this fall or sometime next year…it’ll be an experience you never forget. We just finished our Seattle retreat and, reading the testimonials, it was a huge success. Feel free to call us about setting up a Lila retreat in your area or for your group. (206-428-7626)

Current Open Retreats:

Portland: THIS SATURDAY, Nov 9th, 10-5

Port Townsend: Nov 16th, 10-5

Whidbey Island, WA: WEEKEND RETREAT, Feb 28th-Mar 2nd, 2014

With Lila-Love,


Nachmanovitch on Lila, a Divine Play


“There is an old Sanskrit word, Lila (Leela), which means play. Richer than our word, it means divine play, the play of creation and destruction and re-creation, the folding and unfolding of the cosmos. Lila, free and deep, is both delight and enjoyment of this moment, and the play of God. It also means love. Lila may be the simplest thing there is—spontaneous, childish, disarming. But as we grow and experience the complexities of life, it may also be the most difficult and hard won achievement imaginable, and it’s coming to fruition is a kind of homecoming to our true selves.”


Free Play on Amazon


“Everyone Believes in God”…Triggered yet? ;)

“I believe that everyone believes in God.”

Did that get your goat, or at least your attention? Let me explain why I said it, what I mean and how it might be a true and helpful concept to consider.

Of course it all depends on what one means by a word like “God”. Since there are probably as many definitions as there are people, let me play with one possibility.

Imagine it to simply mean “That which a person imagines* to be most central.”

*Note: (I chose the word ‘imagines’ not to imply ‘fantasy’, but rather as a more flexible/playful/evolving word than ‘believes’ which tends to imply fixed mental certainty, etc.)

Now, by that definition/description, wouldn’t any of the below fit?

  • -The Laws of Science
  • -A Relational Deity or collection of gods
  • -Consciousness
  • -A Mysterious Force
  • -One’s Self, Higher Self, Unconscious, Etc.
  • -Source
  • -Spirit
  • -Love
  • -Nature
  • -The Universe, Everything
  • -Dharma /Brahman
  • -Mind/Doubt/Rationality
  • -Etc.

Why is this important? Because if we all start with an equalizing “belief in God” then we can have a conversation about what that actually means; about our experience with that ‘Ultimate Reality’; about what we know and don’t know; about our wants and fears, joys and struggles, etc -rather than the usual binary or oversimplified categories like “Theistic”, “Athetistic”, etc.   I’m challenging the supposed atheists and agnostics to give their ‘gods’ more ‘praise’, and the ‘spiritual’ folks to be a little more down to earth.  Remember the HUM: HUMility. HUmor. HUMan. 

I’m not so much saying that everyone needs to change the language for what they hold as ‘most central’ to “God”, but rather I’m advocating for a humility that comes in recognizing that words are just words, just re-presentations (usually so inadequately) of larger realities  that we are all a part of.  Poetry, in this domain, ends up being more ‘accurate’, than any of our ologies or isms.

And if each of us really leveled the playing field, I think we would have less ‘triggers/reactions’ when we hear someone saying they believe in this or that…we could rather engage them on what their experience is, what the qualities, benefits, challenges, etc. are of holding their worldview.

Maybe, just maybe, we could even learn from and be enriched by each other.  Maybe the world could even become a little more peaceful.

I think there are some additional concepts that just about any worldview I can imagine we agree with as to the nature of God (or substitute your God/most central thing/idea/being(s)):

1. MYSTERIOUSNESS -not everything is yet known about our God, nor probably ever will be…the journey of discovery is part of the delight and we’d hope it lasts for as long as we are conscious.

2. KNOWABILITY -some things ARE known, experienced, describable. It’s less a question about the ‘truth’ of that knowledge (though exploring that is an important endeavor) and more about the validity/reality of each of our individual experiences & knowledge.

3. BIGGERNESS -it’s hard to find the best word here, so I’m opting for a bit of humor. Obviously, it’s not about ‘size’ per se, but the point is that there is “more than meets the i”, more than our individual consciousness, ego, identity and more than the rational mind can fully know or that words will ever be able to define or ‘capture’.

4. CONNECTION -whether your God is all things, is in you, outside of you, controlling you, partnering with you, indifferent to you or even ignoring you…there is still a ‘connection’ and thus ‘relatedness’. And unless you don’t believe that you are a you, a personal being, that means you could imagine having a relationship to that ‘God’ -just like you can to another person, animal, tree, stream or even law.

5. WORTHINESS -being the most central reality, I think it’s safe to say that we’d all agree our ‘God’ is worth appreciating, understanding, exploring, perhaps even adoring…dare I say “worship”? 😉

6. DEPENDENCY -as the central reality, can we not also all agree that whatever it is we call ‘Life’, how we get it and what sustains it and makes it most worthwhile to each of us, that it in some way ‘comes from’ this central Reality and thus we are also dependent on it?


Of course, I’d love to add LOVE, but I have a hunch that trying to describe the nature of that love would lead to all sorts of disagreements and debates, and I’m aiming for super core basics to imagine agreeing upon.
So, what do you think about the basic idea –could you say you “believe in God” if defined as I do and if it included those qualities? If not, I’d also love to hear what’s missing or that you couldn’t agree with.


Improvisation & Spirituality -an excellent 3 part series by Ted DesMaisons

For those interested in more deeply exploring the ‘applied improv’ aspect of the plerk (play/learn/work) that I do, I HIGHLY recommend the 3 part blog series by a friend and Applied Improvisation Network colleague,  Ted DesMaisons.    My favorite was the third part, but I’d recommend all!  Follow the jumps…

  1. Defining the Undefinable (Part 1 in a 3-part series on Improvisation and Spirituality)

  2. Paths in Parallel (Part 2 in a 3-part series on Improvisation and Spirituality)

  3. Calling Our World Into Being (Part 3 in a 3-part series on Improvisation and Spirituality)


You’ll find in the second part the following section…obviously related to Lila!


Divine Play

Many Hindus say the universe itself came into being through Lila, the divine’s creative play. Any improv troupe or scene ideally carries a bit of that lila as well—even when taking on a poignant or sensitive topic, there’s a buoyant sense of exploring the unknown. We go down paths we’ve never seen. We create obstacles for the fun of it. We get our heroes into trouble so they get the thrill of getting out of it. Good improvisation brings more joy, more vitality, more connection with others, and more intimacy. A healthy spiritual life engenders the same.

"Healing" by Autumn Skye Morrison.  Used with permission. See www.autumnskyemorrison.com for more beautiful images.

“Healing” by Autumn Skye Morrison. One way of picturing the universe glowing with a playful creativity.
Used by permission of the artist. See http://www.autumnskyemorrison.com for other similarly beautiful images.