Lilas and The Dance of Creation

“There is an old Sanskrit word, lila, which means…divine play, the play of creation, destruction, and re-creation of the cosmos”.
– Stephen Nachmanovitch

When you decide to embark on a journey into Rebirthing Breathwork, you’ll realise it is not a mere feat. The journey of connected breathing sessions takes you through physical and emotional dramas. As you move through them, you may feel a greater sense of liberation and your consciousness is elevated. But there’s more! as you delve deeper, more likely than not you can encounter spiritual lessons known as lilas (pronounced leelas).


“I have zero interest in anything spiritual, why on earth would I want a spiritual lesson?” You may well ask.


In fact, conscious connected breathing was discovered by the grace of a spiritual act. Unbeknownst to him at the time, it was transmitted to Leonard Orr by his guru Haidakhan Babaji.


Haidakhan Babaji was considered a Mahavatar, which is an incarnation of the God Shiva. He was not born of a woman. Most westerners would think this is absurd, but the manifestation of Gods in human form, is a well accepted phenomenon in the Hindu faith.


The main purpose for a Mahavatar to take human form, is to help humankind reform their hearts and minds so they may live in harmony.


Babaji materialised in a cave of the remote village of Haidakhan, which is located in the foothills of the Himalayas. Those that met him said that the energy coming from Babaji was beyond what the mind could understand and what the senses could perceive.


When Leonard first met Babaji, he asked Him, “did you like the breathing technique I taught you?”


Leonard consequently became a disciple of Babaji and spent time with him every year. Babaji selected people from across the world and all sections of society to come to his ashram, then put them through mental and spiritual tests, including lilas.


Lilas are a spiritual test which serve you with continuous experiences to test your inner peace. They reveal where you hold on to conditioning and beliefs, where you are stuck in certain patterned responses, or even project your expectations onto what you are experiencing. The deeper inner work is to sit with what is happening, hold space for it, and notice that it will pass. Once you recognise that all experiences are transient; including all emotions, reactions, judgements, projections, you enter into the stillness of truth.


Babaji liked to have fun with his devotees when he created lilas. A devotee told me about when he went for a walk with Babaji. They reached a wall and Babaji walked straight through it. The devotee banged on the wall shouting, “I can’t get through. How could this man walk through a wall?” What the mind thinks is impossible, is actually possible.


Over the course of your breathwork sessions, you may be blessed with a lila! The gift of diving deeper is that it gives you the opportunity to discover unexplored aspects of your personality, by being confronted with unexpected situations. What this actually means, is that a situation may be set up to trick or test you.


For instance, let’s say you loose your favourite ring or watch, you get anxious and search for it in all of the places you could possibly have put it. Days go by so you give up, it’s gone! So instead of obsessing about it, you simply let go of your attachment to it, because it really has gone. Then all of a sudden, it appears in your coat pocket, you looked there five times already. How could it be there? But there it is! The lesson is not so much how did it suddenly appear, but letting go of the attachment to it. Lilas help you grow and you get to really open your eyes and “see” what is going on around you – and in your life.


Relationships are a great way of being tested by a lila. Do you find yourself continually attracting a certain type of person. That type will keep coming to you until you decide I’m done with this game. 


You can dance with the lila for a while, get upset and be pulled in to drama, or alternatively, review what is happening, see it for what it really is – detach, give thanks and step away. Seeing the truth about what or who triggers you, is a major part of the Breathwork journey. You realise that you make so many assumptions about other people, that simply aren’t true.


When at an ashram in Rajastan, a yogi called Bhatriji disappeared right in front of me. I had to let go of my scientific, logical mind and laugh at it. My mind simply couldn’t fathom it, and it surrendered to a greater truth about the material world.


The whole Divine play, activity or lila is the dance of Shiva. All movements within the cosmos are His dance. We are all part of this Divine play and to adopt an attitude of playfulness is needed as we dance through creation. Isn’t life really about becoming more playful and creative? eventually loosening the grip of our serious mind.

“I will show you a greater freedom than you ever dreamed of.”

– Mahavatar Babaji



Tandava – the cosmic dance of Shiva can create the universe and destroy it. The meaning of the cosmic dance of Shiva is the energy vibrations in the world when Lord Shiva dances in the form of Lord Nataraja, the god of dance.

Leonard with Mahavatar Babaji in Haidakhan

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