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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

Cosmic Hide and Seek—We’re It!

Zimmer gives an example from the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, which speaks to the playful nature of the Goddess’s maya and why she lets so few of us realize this play:


Sri Ramakrishna: The Divine Mother is always sportive and playful. This universe is Her play. She is self-willed and must always have Her own way. She is full of bliss. She gives freedom to one out of a hundred thousand

A Brahmo Devotee: But, sir, if She likes She can give freedom to all. Why then has She kept us bound to the world?

Sri Ramakrishna: That is Her will. She wants to continue playing with Her created beings. In a game of hide and seek the running about soon stops if in the beginning all the players touch the ‘granny.’ If all touch Her, then how can the game go on? That displeases Her. Her pleasure is in continuing the game.

It is as if the Divine Mother said to the human mind in confidence, with a sign from Her eye, ‘Go and enjoy the world.’ How can one blame the mind? The mind can disentangle itself from worldliness, if through Her grace, She makes it turn toward Herself.” (Zimmer 1989, pp. 566-567)

D. L. Miller (1970) similarly tells us, that “the world in short, is the play of god” (p. 100). What we take to be reality is maya, the divine power of illusion, the trick of god, master magician who likes to play hide and seek. D.L. Miller cites Alan Watts who, using a masculine gender further explains, giving a slightly different spin:


But because there is nothing outside God, he has no one but himself to play with. But he gets over this difficulty by pretending that he is not himself. This is his way of hiding from himself. He pretends that he is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way he has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear.

Now when god plays hide and pretends that he is you and I. He does it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. But that’s the whole fun of it—just what he wanted to do. He doesn’t want to find himself too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are god in disguise, pretending not to be himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single self—the god who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever. (p. 100)

This cosmic game of hide and seek is a bit like the earliest of children’s games, peek-a-boo, or the similar game that Freud’s grandson used to play, Fort-Da, in that the hiding makes the game all the more fun. This is where the veiling aspect of maya comes in. However, it is not all fun and games, and sometimes things can get extremely complex, as we will see later when we examine the eternal return and revisit the Fort-Da game there.



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