Have you gone out to play?

June 17, 2019

 

In her 1999 book, Deep Play, Diane Ackerman explores the role, lessons and mysteries of deep play, a numinous state of engagement that takes us out of our self. Whether it's being in the zone during a game of basketball where every move seems connected to everyone else's move or beholding the Grand Canyon, this sense of deep play is profound, even sacred, while at the same time, of course, eminently personal.

 

In one section, she cites the German theologian, philosopher and historian of comparative religion, Rudolf Otto. Here's what she wrote:

 

There are also natural wonders, sacred because they magnetize people, wrench from them profound feelings of awe and fright. What is sacred goes far beyond the religious. Rudolf Otto laments that we now use the words "holy" and "sacred" in an entirely different way from our ancestors. For us, those words mean something like "good" or "virtuous," implying religiosity and a moral code. Otto argues that, originally, what was truly sacred contained darkness as well as light, fear as well as wonder, and was not religious, but the powerful emanation one experiences at special sites. Such places trigger in us an altered state of awareness, a shift in consciousness to a profound sense of spirituality, excitation and emotional intensity. One's senses work better; the world looks clearer, crisper, more detailed. One feels a part of a larger whole. Deep play happens....The idea of the holy existed long before religions were founded. It is an innate response to the simultaneously mysterious, startling, immense, overpowering, aweful, and majestic universe.

 

Yes. Awe-ful. May your week ahead include the numinous, the supernatural, the playful. 

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