Theatrical metaphors are great for suggesting the relationship between reality and what we can see in our world. Theatre is a good starting point at least, since what's unfolding at the moment in the world is in many ways simultaneously farcical and tragic.
The good news: it's all pretend! You are an actor, who has got lost in a character. That cleverly invented person with all its labels and attributes is not you at all, and this stuff on the stage is not actually real. Break out of character and laugh heartily. Let yourself go, you'll feel better for it (and it's fine, you can take off the mask while you're at it...)
"When you play roles, you are unconscious. When you catch yourself playing a role, that recognition creates a space between you and the role. It is the beginning of freedom..."
- Eckhart Tolle, from A New Earth
If I've lost you, or you think I've lost it, that's perfectly understandable. If you feel like you're losing the plot, or want to lose the plot with me, read on...
The actor is you, and the role is tied up with the involuntary voice in your head which has tricked you into being that role, on show for all to see and participate with in the mutual charade. Have you noticed that? There's an almost constant commentary running around up there, and instead of you bringing in the thoughts, the thoughts are literally possessing you. This unchecked mental activity can be very destructive, literally weigh you down, keep you living a limited life, and cause a lot of suffering to you and others. "I am this...you are that...it should be this...I should be that...He's not this...she's not that". Noticing that you are the one that is aware of your thoughts is the discovery of the vast spaciousness within you, and the arising of indescribable freedom and infinite love. You are coming home.
Bring awareness to your breathing, the background silence in your room, or the gaps between these words. Close your eyes, turn inwardly, what is there?
When you look at something beautiful like a sunrise, the mind has to stop its commentary to take in the magnificence, however briefly. Reclaim the meaning of the word awesome.
The beginning of my conscious access into this mysterious invisible realm was around 2015, when I was watching an online video of the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. He often speaks very slowly with big pauses, and he said "pay attention not only to the words I speak, but to the gaps in between the words". As I 'attended' to the gap of silence, woahhhh... a space of awareness expanded in my whole body, and my mind, as the expression goes, was blown. Everything shimmered with greater aliveness. I've been in a process of allowing this awareness in ever since, and life is lighter and more joyful for it. Some call it meditation, but that sounds too lofty to me: it's really just attending to the stillness of the present moment. The title of Tolle's book The Power of Now encompasses all spiritual teaching: the 'now', in which everything always happens, is the portal to life in its proper abundance. Try to resist, avoid or escape it at your peril.
"there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so"
Perhaps if Hamlet had made his nugget of wisdom a lived reality there wouldn't have been so much destruction in his play. Paranoid hypocrite. But then there wouldn't be much of a play otherwise would there? Imagine it: "I forgive everyone involved for this blatant conspiracy to kill my father, so let's all live in eternal peace now." Hamlet was the most emphatic 'conspiracy theorist' of all time, but his big mistake was to get emotionally caught up in it all and seek revenge. Mistakes are great lessons for us, but love is ultimately the answer, or else wreak havoc.
Come on, it's time to wake up from the dream, break character and end the suffering.
We lost ourselves in the drama, and we thought it was real! When I'm working on a theatrical project, and the situation becomes for whatever reason stressful, serious, political, emotional, hostile (as it sadly often does), the thought often comes: "can't we leave the drama for the stage?" Unfortunately the desire to break the drama of this life often only comes when the drama causes you enough pain and you're sick of it. Drama's home is the stage, and I believe it's at its best when it forces us to recognise the idiocy of human behaviour in the grip of the parasitic mind chatter. We are the awareness watching the drama.
As the play of the world becomes more ridiculous, the universe is forcing us into ever greater awareness. You start to wonder: am I dreaming? This is the beginning of humanity's awakening. It is happening now, and we are all expressions of it!
You don't have a life, you ARE life.
There's plenty more where this came from. Stay alert and be on the look out for my next article, The universe is not physical, in which the metaphor is no longer a metaphor.