In pretend-play, we can imagine ourself as a single-character hero besieged by an army of one-dimensional villains. When we get tired of winning all the time, we might begin to explore our own character, perhaps sending in some tougher foes. Maybe this time our hero struggles to win or maybe loses a few, only to come back more powerful than ever. Eventually, we might even start exploring the depths of our opponents. Maybe they had reasons to attack, maybe they had their own struggles. Perhaps we might begin to see commonality, teaming up to defeat an even greater enemy. Or maybe we’ll see the futility in fighting and begin to construct a grand society.
As we move along a spiritual path, it’s said that we eventually drop the extreme focus we have on ourself. Instead of only seeing the lone protagonist, we start seeing beyond. Instead of seeing those we interact with as pure good or pure evil, we see nuance. During this time, we believe ourself to be a lone actor playing as a single character. As we move along the path, we notice there’s too much synchrony, things fit together too well to be the random interaction of independent characters. We realize that there must be an omniscient narrator holding the story together.
Then as we proceed further, we come to the understanding that we are the omniscient narrator, or at least some facet of a greater being. At this point we realize the story-like nature of existence with its plethora of story arcs. As we proceed on the spiritual path, the story that surrounds becomes more natural to act within. Whereas we used to fight against the plot, we now flow, appreciating the play. What’s more, the drama we witness lessens to match our gentling temperament. Other characters become multidimensional while adding flavor to the narrative.
When we play pretend, we usually know it’s just for fun. Taking things too seriously is the best way to spoil that fun. Likewise, when we take life too seriously, we spoil our fun. The spiritual path is no grander thing than this: to realize the lighthearted nature of existence. And once aware, we’re to play out our role, enjoying the entire experience.