And the Earth Lila Oscar Goes To

(Published in The Speaking Tree column of the Times of India on March 13, 2024)

What if an actor won an Oscar only based on the character he portrays and not the quality of his acting? Won’t that be unfair?

Our lives in this physical world are a lila, play, in the mind of Brahmn. As William Shakespeare says in As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances.” Some people are born into royalty, huge fortunes, fame, power and the like. Suppose only they were entitled to win the spiritual Oscar at the award ceremony when they returned to the higher realms after their sojourn on Planet Earth. That will not be right. Every actor should be in the race to win the Earth Lila Oscar.

The Earth life experience has been crafted like a grand lila. Maya, the veil of delusion, has been put over our conscious minds so that we temporarily forget about our true identity as spiritual beings and focus on our human experience.

This experience need not be about status, power, money, or fame. We do not have to be a king, queen, president, business magnate, or superstar to win our Earth Lila Oscar. We must perform our roles to the best of our abilities.

Yes, we should try to improve our lives, financially, socially, but more essential is to focus on the journey and not the destination. Irrespective of our roles, we need to pay heed to the small, daily things we do or say, and practice compassion, empathy, and kindness in our interactions with our fellow beings. A kind word, a helpful deed, a warm smile can have a ripple effect and increase the positive, spiritual vibes in our world.

Each one of us is an atman, soul, a small but significant part of Parmatman, Supreme Soul, Brahmn. And Brahmn is experiencing everything through us. Therefore, everything we say or do in life should be for and on behalf of Brahmn. And, as everyone is a part of Brahmn, what we do or say to others, it is being said and done to God.
Spiritual growth and the Earth Lila Oscar come when we are able to use every opportunity to further the positive vibrations of love and compassion in the universe. Because everything matters.

“As long as we confuse the myriad forms of the divine lila with reality, without perceiving the unity of Brahmn underlying all these forms, we are under the spell of maya…In the Hindu view of nature, then, all forms are relative, fluid, and ever-changing maya, conjured up by the great magician of the divine play. The world of maya changes continuously, because the divine lila is a rhythmic, dynamic play,” writes Fritjof Capra in The Tao of Physics.

When Krishn tells Arjun in the Gita to perform his duty and fight with the Kauravs, he reiterates how we are the indestructible and immortal atman. He describes how we come again and again to the Earth and other realms and must keep doing our karma without worrying about the fruit.

So, keep at it and perform the role well, because it is all a play in the mind of Brahmn. And like any great character from the movies, we too will face challenges, but that is the essence of a good story.