“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” William Shakespeare, 1564 -1616
The world really is a stage and we are playing different roles in the same way that an actor plays different characters in his acting career. The actor never really changes but the characters he plays change stories, costumes and roles. All of us live out the play of life in the same fashion.
It’s a beautiful play as long as we remember to stay to our True Self. If we can remember our changeless, permanent true selves, we can see the gifts and rewards of the unexpected and move through mental uncertainty and discomfort.
We can have the faith to rise above the challenges of this “Lila” life. [Lila can be loosely translated as the “divine play” of life.
“God is without form, without quality as well as with form and quality.
Watch and see with what endless variety of beautiful forms
He plays the play of his maya with Himself alone.
The lila of the all pervading One goes on and on in this way in infinite diversity.
He is without beginning and without end.
He is the whole and also the part.
The whole and part together make up real Perfection.” (Anandamayi Ma)
The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred spiritual book of the Hindus, also refers to this metaphor of actors on a stage. The battle taking place at Kurukshetra in the Gita is really a battlefield of the mind and within our own consciousness itself. Krishna is encouraging Arjuna to fight on, but not to attach to the results of life because we are not really the doer. It’s all the divine play of life.
Krishna encourages Arjuna to play out his role all the while teaching him that there ultimately is no battlefield or fight to be won. It’s all really symbolic and a great paradox.
The Hindus refer to this inner true Self that needs to be remembered at all times as the Atman. This is a Sanskrit word that means inner self or soul. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta School of Hinduism, Atman is the first principle, the true self of an individual beyond identification with phenomena, the essence of an individual.
I have come to know this inner description of Atman and refer to it as the true Christ within me. The permanent divine awareness of being. The inner ‘I am presence”.
“The man who sees me in everything and everything within me
will not be lost to me, nor
will I ever be lost to him.
He who is rooted in oneness realizes that I am
in every being; wherever
he goes, he remains in me. When he sees all beings as equal in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga.”
We are already special beings here alive on earth just as we are. Perfect as imperfect human beings. Try to become aware of this amazing experience of consciousness. It is a great honor to be alive. It is the ultimate spiritual experience. Become awake to this. This is true meditation and prayer. As Meister Eckhart said, even just “thank you “to God is a prayer.
As Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj once said, “Your expectation of something unique and dramatic, of some wonderful explosion, is merely hindering and delaying your Self Realization. You are not to expect an explosion, for the explosion has already happened – at the moment when you were born, when you realized yourself as Being-Knowing-Feeling. There is only one mistake you are making: you take the inner for the outer and the outer for the inner. What is in you, you take to be outside you and what is outside, you take to be in you. The mind and feelings are external, but you take them to be intimate. You believe the world to be objective, while it is entirely a projection of your psyche. That is the basic confusion and no new explosion will set it right! You have to think yourself out of it. There is no other way.”
It’s interesting that Jesus said the same thing when referring to entering the kingdom of heaven in the Gospel of Thomas .
Jesus said to them, ‘When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter [the Kingdom].’”
—Excerpt From: Didymos Judas Thomas, “The Gospel of Thomas”
This awareness as simple as it may sound is the gateway to seeing all of life as a gift and a reward. When we can remember our true inner SELF, then all the uncertainty and uncomfortableness is indeed just the dance of life. The divine dance of life its SELF.