All the World’s a Stage |
When I was an undergraduate many years ago, my deep admiration for the works of William Shakespeare first blossomed. My passion for his plays has been an integral part of my life, and his writings have taught me many important things.
Shakespeare: An Enlightened Being
During my undergraduate years, I had the privilege of taking a Shakespearean class and was also able to travel through Europe. I vividly remember going to Stratford-upon-Avon and watching a Shakespeare play, As You Like It. The words, “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; his acts being seven ages,” struck a profound chord deep within me. Shakespeare’s words are not merely those of a playwright but instead, those of an enlightened being. He describes who we are with great insight and accuracy. It’s Just a Play
Everything is one. There can only be that which is permanent. That which is permanent has always been and always will be. Everything arises from this oneness, this non-dual, this supreme self or supreme reality. Anything that is impermanent will change. It cannot be that which is real because it won’t last. It can only be a reflection or, to use an analogy, a play. Our life is a play and it’s being played so well that we’ve forgotten that we’re the director, the players, the stage, the words, and everything else.
In forgetting this important information, we have caused suffering upon ourselves. If we realize that life is but a stage and that all that we are is a witness, then our suffering can end. We may roar out with laughter during the happy parts and we may cry out with pain during the sad, but we can stand back and realize it’s just a play. Without the attachments, the suffering ends. We can just be with life; we flow with it and accept it.
Forgetting Our Supreme Reality Has Caused Us to Suffer
We are that out of which everything comes. When we awaken to this truth, then we discover who we are. We can deeply enjoy life’s play because we don’t identify with the players anymore. Yes, there is still pain and pleasure, but because we don’t identify with these parts, they come and go; we, however, remain the true self of who we are. We awaken to the fact that we are the dreamer and the playwright of our play: ultimately, we are the Shakespeare of the Universe. All we have to do is play our part, witness who we are, and enjoy the journey of life which has gone on forever and will go on forever. New universes will be created, new plays will be enacted, but we will remain the ultimate supreme reality of everything. As we create our lives, we preserve stories and we also destroy or end them. We are and will continue to be the creator of an infinite number of universes that will come and go.
When we identify with ourselves as that out of which everything comes, we awaken to who we are, the supreme reality out of which everything arises or ever will arise. The only thing that we can ultimately be is that which is permanent; the only thing is our awareness and witnessing of the play of life. When the play ends, or when we sleep at night, we return to the supreme reality out of which everything comes, everything is, and everything will be. When we identify with our true selves, our natural state of happiness and bliss is the way in which we live our lives and it becomes who we are.
Our lives are being played and the scripts were written long before we were born. We must wake up to who we are, and to discover that we are every part of life’s play and all the world’s a stage. We are merely players; we have our exits and our entrances. Ultimately, we are that which proceeds and precedes the play, out of which every play in this universe and every universe that ever will be, arises.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is clinical psychologist, international speaker and meditation expert who authored, Spiritual Enlightenment: Awakening to the Supreme Reality. A contributing writer to Psychology Today, he has authored numerous other books and creates weekly podcasts and articles on spiritual enlightenment, enlightenment, nonduality, and Advaita Vedanta at http://www.EnlightenmentPodcast.com
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