Monday 16 September 2013

The World's a Stage

This question is on a similar theme to the earlier one on karma and destiny. It also ties in with a section in the book which discusses the Master's comment that everyone has their part to play. And, of course, the title is taken from Shakespeare’s line that ‘All the world’s a stage’, a conceit he may have used but did not invent.

Q. Do you think we're just actors in a play? It sometimes feels that way but if it were true it would mean everything was planned in advance and that doesn’t make sense to me.

A. I do think that this world is a stage and we are something like actors in a play. I think we have our roles and that our true selves and the true life are elsewhere. However, although we do have our parts, the script is largely improvised and it is our responsibility. So, although you can quite correctly say that this is not the real world and our lives here are not our real lives, the part we play here and, more especially, the way we play that part has a powerful bearing on who we are and what we become. We are making ourselves through playing our roles. They are not us but through them we either progress or not depending on whether we play them well or badly. It is as if we are assigned a character and a costume and then given some instructions by the director on how the part should be played before we go on stage but nothing is written for certain though the general direction the play should take may be determined in advance.

From the spiritual perspective this world is not real but when you are inside it it seems so and that is as it should be. At least, that is as it should be until you begin to transfer your consciousness from the lower to the higher self. If you regarded the world as unreal but were not identified with the soul, that is, with the higher world, you could not properly learn the lessons the world has to offer. You would just stagnate. The actor plays his part best when he is fully inside it, when he really believes in it, and we must believe things are true to experience them properly. However there comes a time when you must start to see yourself as the individual behind the part you are playing and shift your focus from the character, the personality, the mask, to the true self that is the character’s animating principle. So, to begin with, you must believe in your part to play it properly but eventually you must dis-identify from it if you wish to transcend it. And transcend it you must or you will remain stuck in it.

Earth is a school say the Masters. It is a school that is designed in a certain way. We are given the tools we need to experience certain things here and experiment in certain ways. We play with things, we build things, we make things but what we are really making is ourselves. When all we have done has crumbled we will be left with ourselves. When the play is over and we walk offstage it is not the acclaim of the audience that matters but what we have made of the part we were given. And what it has made of us.

It is immaterial whether you have a large or small part in this play. For all we know the medieval concept of the Wheel of Fortune might well be based on truth. You could have been a queen in a previous life, a person of power, riches and authority. In this life you are an ordinary mother with a not very interesting job, struggling to pay the bills. These are both just parts and, from the spiritual point of view, neither one is necessarily any better or more important than the other. What you have to do in both cases is detach yourself from identification with the current expression of your self and realise the essential quality of your self. What you are now may certainly may an aspect of your being (though it may not) but it is not who or what you really are. Play your part well but do not identify with it.

The Masters told me that one should not confuse what (a person) really was with the role he played. “Do not judge the soul by the mask it wears in the world” they said. What this means is that the soul comes into this world wearing a mask that disguises its true nature, even from itself most of the time. This mask is its outer form for this life which may be determined by its previous lives, and may even in some cases be representative of what it is, but it is still not what it really is. One simply cannot judge by appearances. Some of the greatest amongst us may be in humble positions and many of those with worldly fame and power may be quite ordinary in spiritual terms. The Boy is a perfect example of what I mean. He was an uneducated, working class man, and from a worldly perspective he achieved nothing. And yet he was the vessel for one of the greatest spiritual manifestations of the last century. If he had not been a great soul himself he would not have been able to serve in that capacity for the Masters would not have been able to use him. I am not saying that worldly acclaim necessarily indicates spiritual poverty. Only that you really cannot judge the soul by the mask it wears in the world. Having said that, it is perfectly true that the more attuned you are to spiritual realities, the less the things of this world, its rewards, its praise, worldly power and success, have any appeal so, unless a soul has a particular mission, it is unlikely to put great efforts into achieving these things.

So we are actors, or like actors, and we play many parts on the earthly stage. When the play is done, though, we cannot just disrobe and carry on as we were before it began. While playing our role we are responsible for every line we utter. The actual part may not be us but everything we do while playing that part reflects on us and will come back to us. So play your part to the best of your ability while all the time realising that it is only a part and not what you really are.

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