as an atheist, i'd always imagined i'm not a religious individual at all. but as i observe religious people around me (even the born again rabidly religious variety) i realize the truth might not be as i imagine it to be.
the Oxford English Dictionary defines religiosity as: "Religiousness; religious feeling or belief. Affected or excessive religiousness".
i'm less concerned about religious orientation but deeply curious about the degrees of involvement or commitment. tho there is a lack of agreement on what criteria would constitute religiosity, it can be measured at the levels of both individuals or groups.
when i ask people if they're religious, their reply whether affirmative or negative, is based on the frequency of visits to their respective religious institutions.
temples as playgrounds
in India, there are current attempts to restore and rebuild ancient temples to their past glory. i wonder tho if it's enough to simply reopen them as places of worship alone.
as a child growing up, i refused to enter temples as i didn't fancy the idea of having to follow rules and observe piety. after being admonished for climbing the temple Nandi, i decided i'm not going to as place they won't let me play in. yes, five year old minds can be rather decisive.
but today as i imagine what temples might have been, i see them as playgrounds for the community to congregate. what is spirituality if not for uplifting one's spirit? i'd like to see dancers, musicians, artists, sculptors come together to celebrate consciousness and creativity.
in the public eye
over the years we've grown to romanticize the lonesome writer, the locked up philosopher, the reticent painter to the extent where we don't recognize any other kind.
the seesaw has tilted or should i say toppled to the other extreme where everyone is creating for public endorsement, desperately seeking likes and comments.
how might we find a harmonious balance of artist and patron interaction? enter the playground as a space for divinity and devotion, while also offering the public a way to participate in the process of creativity.
friction free or feral
civilized society is a walled garden, not a wild forest. so censorship and freedom of expression is always going to be a delicate tight rope for artists to walk on.
the onus lies on both artists and patrons to play with the potential of passionate expression to both uplift and/or oppress. the state or the system will no doubt seek to chaperone but rules boundaries alone do not ensure the oversight of wisdom.
...all men who deliberate upon difficult questions had best be devoid of hatred, friendship, anger, and pity. When those feelings stand in the way, the mind cannot at all easily discern the truth, and no one has ever served at the same time his passions and his best interests. When you apply your intellect, it prevails,; if passion takes control, it is master, whereas the mind is entirely impotent.
from Sallust, War with Catiline
so we play between the polarities in the playground of public perception and seek to expand it's edges and our own minds in the process.
devotion to divinity
the divine is beyond deities and disciplines of any kind. when we wake up every day to play, we may begin with determination but that soon gives way to devotion beyond the mundane.
while the artist as a player creates his own temple as a space to play freely in, how might we also expand this private space into a public playground where others may be transformed by the power of individual devotion?
as we move into an uncertain future, we will need such spaces that bring together impassioned players beyond the closed cults and communities of the past. every one of which have had their relevance in times past, but if we're to walk into the future together, my bet is on playgrounds as temples.
playgrounds not libraries
educational institutions offer playgrounds as a mere respite from the rigors of study, but that's a gross underestimation of what they're capable of. we're mistaking trees for the forest if we imagine curriculum based study as the only way to learn. if anything curiosity driven exploration is the way forward.
in a time of increasing innovation across fields, it's vital to understand how playgrounds not libraries are the research laboratories for future minds to incubate in. if only we'd encourage for irreverent inquiry into the unknown besides established routes thru the known.
so if you're playing with passion and diving deep into your favored rabbit hole, you might be more religious than you give yourself credit for. you'll find the divine in the depths of your own devotion, in the playground of your choice. enjoy the game!