The joyful dance of life.

Jay Mavani
3 min readJul 1, 2024

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Unshackle the serious mind, shall we?

Alan Watts, a renowned British philosopher and interpreter of Eastern philosophies for a Western audience, has left us with a treasure trove of thought-provoking insights.

Among his most poignant is the quote, “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” This statement encapsulates a profound understanding of human nature and the way we interact with the world around us.

At the heart of this quote is the concept of perspective.

Watts suggests that much of human suffering stems not from external circumstances but from the way we perceive and react to those circumstances.

Life, in its essence, is a cosmic play, a dance of creation and destruction, joy and sorrow. The gods, representing the forces of nature or the universe, engage in this dance without attachment, fully immersed in the joy of the process.

Humans, however, often forget this playful aspect of existence and become overly serious about their roles and the events unfolding around them.

This seriousness manifests in various forms: stress over work, anxiety about the future, and a constant striving for success and validation. These are the chains we forge ourselves, binding us to a life of perpetual dissatisfaction and suffering.

Watts’ philosophy has always encouraged me to loosen these chains by adopting a more playful, detached approach to life. He doesn’t advocate for irresponsibility or nihilism but rather a balanced perspective where I engage with life’s challenges without becoming entangled in them.

Watts’ insight aligns with several Eastern philosophies, particularly those of Buddhism and Taoism. In Buddhism, the concept of “dukkha” or suffering is central, and it is taught that attachment and desire are the primary sources of this suffering.

Similarly, Taoism emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao, the natural flow of the universe, and adopting a flexible, effortless approach to life. Both philosophies encourage a release from the rigid structures of thought and behavior that cause unnecessary suffering.

To truly embrace the wisdom in Watts’ quote, one might practice mindfulness and presence.

Being fully present in each moment, appreciating the beauty and absurdity of life, and recognizing the transient nature of all things can help us see life more as a game than a burdensome journey.

Humour, too, becomes a powerful tool in this context. By finding humour in our predicaments and laughing at ourselves, we can dissolve the seriousness that clouds our perception and reconnect with the joyous, playful essence of life.

In essence, Watts invites us to shift our mindset from one of solemnity to one of playfulness.

By taking life less seriously, we can alleviate much of our self-imposed suffering and align ourselves more closely with the natural, joyous flow of existence.

That said, this shift does not mean disregarding responsibilities or ignoring the real challenges we face, but rather approaching them with a light heart and an open mind.

In doing so, we honour the playful spirit of the gods and transform our suffering into a dance of life.

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Jay Mavani

Jay Mavani (aka jaymavs) loves to express his passion for problem-solving, creativity, philosophy and humour by playing with various canvases.