All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women simply players;
They've their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays numerous corridor,
His acts being seven periods.
— William Shakespeare, As You Like It, II, vii, 139
A play was in progress in India. Actor and dramatist Girish Chandra Ghosh( 1844 – 1912) was playing the part of a tippler and spendthrift. In one scene he was needed to abuse a woman. His amusement was so pictorial and natural that a man in the followership, intensively rankled and stirred, threw his shoe at the actor. It struck Girish and rebounded on the stage. Girish incontinently picked it up, placed it on his head, bowed to the followership, and declared that he'd noway entered a more comforting homage.
What happed to that man in the followership has presumably happed to us all. The play of creation has been going on from God- knows- when. We were supposed to be watching it and enjoying it. At some point in this cosmic play, we presumably got so involved in it, so linked with the characters and events in the story, our response was so strong and so hot, that before we knew it, we had formerly left our seats and set up ourselves on the stage, getting a part of the story ourselves.
When exactly this transition from being a “ onlooker ” to being an “ actor ” passed we don't know. We stopped watching the play at some point and began acting in it. We came immersed in our places to such an extent that we indeed forgot that we were only actors. We came one with the characters we were playing.
This is, of course, the hallmark of all genuine actors. They forget their real identity and come one with the part they're playing in the story. When the story requires the character to exfoliate gashes in a woeful scene, good actors do n’t need to smear glycerine under the eyes. Their body and mind, their entire being, becomes so attuned to the part, that gashes and grins come naturally to them. On this stage of the world, we too have come excellent actors. We laugh, we smile, we suffer, we suffer, we detest, we love, we sweat. We do all of this, and more, naturally and painlessly.
When the play is over, all actors recapture their identity. When this play of creation is over, we too will recapture our lost identity and know who we've always been. Not that every one is eager for the play to end. numerous do n’t indeed know that it’s a play. Some have heard that it is, but do n’t really realize what it means( Kaṭha Upaniṣad,1.2.7). Among those who believe it, some are scarified by the idea. But a many have had it. They just want out. For them, the question of questions is when is this play going to end? If we're allowing “ death ” may be the answer, we need to suppose again.
Death doesn't end the play. The curtain rings down only for a while, and soon we've to get ready for the coming act, maybe for a different part, in a different costume, in a different makeup. The story continues with little variation — a many gashes and a many grins, with a liberal smattering of love, abomination and covetousness — like the cleaner operas, full of stock situations and the generally predictable stories.
Still, when does it do so? Alas, it noway does, If this play of creation doesn't end with death. It just goes on and on, without ending. It’s being legislated on a revolving stage, one scene following another without respite. Now that we're formerly ever entangled in this play of creation, when can we really anticipate to be free? Is there any stopgap that the play will end eventually?
There's always stopgap. The play can go on — who cares? but there's no reason why I should. The problem is that, so long I continue to be a “ good ” actor, I can not get out. Will the director ever let go of good actors? They will be held back one way or another. But in the case of bad actors, the director is only too eager to dismiss them. As soon as a suitable cover is set up, the director shows the door to the bad actor. I know now what I need to do to get out. I must stop being a good actor and learn to act poorly.
Is it possible to purposely exercise bad amusement? I suppose it's possible. Suppose a rich man is needed to play the part of a beggar. Would his amusement be natural if he's not suitable to forget that he's really rich but only playing at being poor? If an actor, miserable in her real life, is asked to play on stage the character of a cheerful woman, would she suitable to do it well if all the while she remains conscious of her particular straits? The actors who can not forget their real individualities while acting are bad actors. Their amusement lacks naturalness and authenticity. They've no future in the acting world. Sooner or latterly they're forced to quit.
still, I must come a bad actor, If I really want to quit from this play of creation. That's the only way out. When I constantly gossip out bad performances, the director of this cosmic play who differently but God! — will, I imagine, gently bruit in my cognizance, “ My child, go and sit among the followership. I can not use you presently. You have lost your capability to act. The only thing you're fit for now is to watch this play. ” While this seems like a redundancy
, it's in fact a price.
Oddly enough, in this play of creation, it requires tremendous trouble to come a bad actor, and hardly any trouble to be a good actor.( Try writing a judgment with every word spelt incorrectly. That needs further trouble!) To get out now and disconnect myself from the play appears insolvable unless I try real hard to make myself unfit for it. The only way to come a bad actor is to remind myself constantly of my real identity, and to purposely detach myself from the part I'm playing. I must flash back always that all this is only a play, not real. I'm reading fabrication, not living history. I'm not the character I've been dressed up in. I'm someone different.
I learn from Vedanta that I'm not the body, not the mind, not the intellect, not the pride. I could say that they belong to me, but I'm not any of them. I'm different from them. The ātman — or pure mindfulness is the real me. The body, the mind, the intellect, the pride all these are, at best, only coverings over me. What's my true nature? I'm free, ever-pure, without birth, without death. I'm being, knowledge, bliss absolute. I've noway had any birth, nor will I ever die. I'm free and horizonless.( Gita, 2. 11 – 25)
All of this sounds too ridiculous to believe. It can be too disorienting to be told that I'm not who I ’ve always allowed
I am. It’s too scary to feel that I don't know who I am, but that seems to be the communication. I've been so important absorbed in acting in this play of creation that I've forgotten my real identity. When and how did I forget this verity about myself? The Gita addresses this subject of loss of memory( smṛti- bhraṁśa) and traces its cause and its goods( 2. 62- 63), and recommends practices to help recover the lost memory.
When the quality of my amusement in this play of creation starts sinking, that's to say, when I'm reminded again and again of who I really am, I come unable of responding completely to the fictitious character I'm supposed to be playing. I can no longer play a mortal being because I find it delicate to forget that I'm godly. That’s the time for me to quit the stage. Sri Ramakrishna said,
Still, it does n’t sow, “ If a boiled paddy- grain is sown. Just so, if a man is boiled by the fire of knowledge, he can not take part any more in the play of creation ”( Gospel,p. 668).
I've to come “ boiled ” by the fire of knowledge — which will burn to ashes my false tone and reveal my true identity. I'll also remain absorbed in my real tone( ātman). My duties as actor will be over( Gita, 3. 17). formerly again I ’ll find myself among the followership.
All who have attained enlightenment in this life are the followership. They're watching and enjoying this play of creation. Those who are absorbed into the play and are playing their places to perfection are the actors. They ca n’t choose their places but they can, if they wish, quit acting. No bone
is forcing them out. But if they want out, there's a way to get out.
Let the play go on. Once I'm in the followership, I'm free from the scores and forces ofacting.However, I can sit and watch the play, If Iwant.However, everyone does), I'm free to walk out of the theater for ever, If I get tired and find it boring( as I ultimately will. No rush. I can take my time. I'm free.