Inquiring Minds Want to Know:Is it Just One Big Divine Oops?
Just what is the nature of this play? Did the Divine know what it was doing? Could this all be one horrible mistake? As we have just seen and will see again when we discuss paradox and Shiva’s dice game, play is tricky at times. Surprises and unintended consequences can and do occur, which makes the Divine play all the more fun. But it does lead one to ask: Just how much control does Absolute Consciousness have over the whole process of creation? In many Trickster tales, as Hyde (1998) tells us in Trickster Makes the World, the trickster god often ends up getting tricked himself. Think Wile Coyote (who is a modern version of a famous American Indian Tricksters, the Coyote).
At times and in certain myths, the Absolute seems to be in Absolute Control, but often, this is not the case. It seems that while the basic parameters of creation have been set, the final exact or specific outcome is not known and remains unpredictable, even for the Divine, and thus is ultimately beyond control—leaving openings for surprises. Grof (1998a) compares this idea to a chess game or kaleidoscope, where their inventor could see the general outline or considerations and some, but not all of the possible combinations or moves that would arise.
Although we will talk more about kaleidoscopes later on, interestingly Grof (1998a) mentions that psychedelic sessions often contain kaleidoscopic imagery, especially at the initial stages or at lower doses. I, too, have experienced this, where for the bulk of a holotropic inner journey I experienced myself as different parts of kaleidoscopic imagery on a roller coaster of sorts. I would be part of a pattern, spin out to the edge of the pattern, and then come back down into another pattern where the colors and background were totally different. The experience was full movement and different patterns constellated all around me and I was a part of them all. Interestingly this occurred in September of 2002, while I was developing my dissertation, before I had even written my concept paper.
In “Through a Looking-Glass: The World as Enigma,” in a section entitled “Through a Looking Glass: Kaleidoscopic Vision,” D.L. Miller (1988), discusses “spiegelspiel,” Heidegger’s idea of mirroring that does not portray a representational likeness:
Such mirroring is the "play" whereby the plenitude of Being manifests itself, without objectivizing itself, in the things of the world . . . the mirror-play of the world is the round dance of appropriating . . . the round dance is the ring that joins while it plays as mirroring . . . . Like the twinkling of a star, or mirror, the kaleidoscopic round dance of the mirror-play transforms perspective imaginally. The twinkle changes things. For how can there be divisive dualisms—heaven over against hell, divine over against humans, male over against female, reality over against representations—where there is a twinkle in the perspectival eye, a riffling-ruffling-rippling (rhipo) perspective of the human and the cosmic, when everything is a mirror: mirrors mirroring mirrors, up and down and in and out. And everything is a mirror when it is reflected upon, for in the reflections the world twinkles back at us. (pp. 399-402)
D.L. Miller (1970) also wrote one of the classic works in the field of play Gods and Games, and it is to Gods and Games that we will turn next.