all the world's a stage

Today we ask that you not get caught up in life drama.

Everyone has a life drama.  It does not matter if you work in a coffee shop, or are the President of the United States.  If you are a human and you are breathing, you are experiencing a life drama.

Life drama is just like the drama in movies and on TV shows.  There are stakes, there are consequences.  There are fears, there are conflicts.  

Will you ever find Mr. Right?

Will your business thrive, or go under?

Will your child get his act together, or fail?

What if your health collapses?  Will you ever be well again?

Will climate change destroy the world?

Ask almost everyone what is going on with them, and you will get an earful of life drama.  You will hear their conflicts, their grievances, their injustices, their fears.  You will hear how they have no control over anything and how crazy it makes them.  Everyone is the star of their own reality show.

You may notice that in movies and TV, the characters usually suffer terribly.  They may sometimes reach a happy ending, but not without a great deal of suffering along the way.

So there is an intrinsic connection between drama, and suffering.

If a character on TV or in a movie suddenly gained the awareness that he was merely a character playing a part in an imaginary reality, what would happen?

Some movies have depicted versions of this.

If the character in the film understands that he is merely a role performed by an actor, who will go on to perform many different roles in his lifetime, how would that affect the character?

Initially, the character would experience profound existential confusion.  The character would no longer be sure who he is, or what he is doing.  The character would become increasingly aware that his role is temporary.  At some point, the show will end, the curtain will fall.  But the actor playing him will continue.  If he really accepted this, he would no longer be at the mercy of the drama.  Things would still happen, but he would not take it so seriously, nor be so frightened all the time.

This is a way to describe the state all of you currently are in.

You are like characters, in a film.  The character is who you think you are, your ego identity.  The movie is your unfolding life drama.

But beneath that role, that character, is your deeper, truer self.  This is like the “actor.”  The actor is that part of you which is immortal, which transcends this particular life drama.  When your character dies, the actor continues — just as the actor in a film or TV show lives on, even when the character he plays dies.

This is really the nature of enlightenment.

An enlightened person knows that his ego identity, and all the drama associated with that persona, is temporary.  At a certain point, the curtain will fall, the drama will end — but you will continue, beyond your ego identity.

Knowing this, an enlightened person is no longer at the mercy of his life drama, and does not experience the same kind of suffering.  He may certainly still experience pain and loss, but he does not feel the same kind of continual suffering and anguish.

It is like waking up in a dream.  For those of you who have ever had a lucid dream, you know that the moment you become aware “I am dreaming,” the dream drama no longer has any power over you.  

The process of meditation is an ancient and powerful method of realizing the dream-like, film-like nature of reality.

The moment you gain even a little awareness of this, the life drama ceases to have as much power over you.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a monk in a cave.  You can still live your life and do all the things you do.  You can create light, beauty and goodness in this world.  In fact, you will be much freer to do so, because you will not be experiencing nearly as much suffering or anguish over things — especially all the things you cannot control.  

You are a dreamer in a dream, a character in a movie.  And what a splendid dream it is, what a grand and magnificent movie, this reality you perceive yourself to be in.  

Some of you may fantasize about living inside your favorite movies, or TV shows.

In truth, your wish has already come true.

So — knowing this, enjoy yourself!  And do not be so afraid.  Even the most fearful aspects of this reality are temporary and passing.  The show always ends, the curtain always falls.  But the actors take their bows, and continue on.  So will you.

It is okay if you do not believe this.  But if you do, you will suffer less, and enjoy life more.