Playfulness is one of the most repressed parts of human beings. All societies, cultures, civilizations, have been against playfulness because the playful person is never serious. And unless a person is serious, he cannot be dominated, he cannot be made ambitious, he cannot be made to desire power, money, prestige. The child never dies in anyone. It is not that the child dies when you grow, the child remains. Everything that you have been is still within you, and will remain within you until your very last breath.
But society is always afraid of nonserious people. Non serious people will not be ambitious for money, or political power; they would rather enjoy existence. But enjoying existence cannot bring you prestige, cannot make you powerful, cannot fulfill your ego; and the whole world of man revolves around the idea of the ego. Playfulness is against your ego –you can try it and see. Just play with children, and you will find your ego is disappearing, you will find that you have become a child again. It is not only true about you, it is true about everyone.
Because the child within you has been repressed, you will repress your children. Nobody allows their children to dance and to sing and to shout and to jump. For trivial reasons -perhaps something may get broken, perhaps they may get their clothes wet in the rain if they run out- for these small things a great spiritual quality, playfulness, is completely destroyed.
The obedient child is praised by his parents, by his teachers, by everybody; and the playful child is condemned. His playfulness may be absolutely harmless, but he is condemned because there is potentially a danger of rebellion. If the child goes on growing with full freedom to be playful, he will turn out to be a rebel. He will not be easily enslaved; he will not be easily put into armies to destroy people, or to be destroyed himself.
The rebellious child will turn out to be a rebellious youth. Then you cannot force marriage on him; then you cannot force him into a particular job; then the child cannot be forced to fulfill the unfulfilled desires and longings of the parents. The rebellious youth will go his own way. He will live his life according to his own innermost desires -not according to somebody else’s ideals. The rebel is basically natural. The obedient child is almost dead; hence the parents are very happy, because he is always under control.