All the world’s a stage


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
– Jaques in Shakespeare’s As You Like It (2/7)

This is true in the way Shakespeare points out. As a human being, we all play different roles throughout the day and throughout our lives.

And as usual, to the extent we identify with these roles, we get into struggle when life shifts the roles around. Some roles go, other roles come, and some needs to be played another way. (And we don’t always get a say.)

But we play more basic roles as well.

We have the roles of a human being, but there is also the basic role as a human itself. Two legs. A head. An animal with bodily needs and instincts. A cultured being living within a world of interpretations.

Then there is the role of a doer in its many flavors of a doer in the world, a decider, an observer.

And the even more basic role of an I with an Other. A separate I with a center and periphery, and an inside and outside.

All of these are roles, and as what we are – that which all form and experience happens within and as – we play these roles. Or we could say that the roles play themselves, whether there is a sense of a separate I there or not.

To the extent we identify with roles, there is drama. (Which is entertaining, although not always so comfortable.)

And to the extent they are recognized as roles – as temporary roles playing themselves out, with their own location in time and space, their own perspectives and views – it is all recognized as a play.

Even in the midst of whatever is happening, there is an enjoyment of the play. There is a recognition of an enjoyment that seems to always be there, inherent in experience itself.

And this too is a question, and a pointer for inquiry.

What are some of the roles I play as a human in the world? What happens when I identify with them, take them as how I really am and take their perspectives and views as truth? What happens when they are recognized as a role, and their perspetive is recognized as belonging to the role only?

Can I recognize being a human as a role as well? What happens when it is taken as what I am? What happens when I recognize it as a role?

And what about the sense of a doer? Can I recognize it as a role? What happens when there is identification with it, when it is taken as what I am? What happens when it is recognized as a role with its own perspective, playing itself out?

Finally, what about the sense of a separate I? Is it really that different from the other ones? Is that one too a role, with its own perspective and views? What happens when it is taken as what I am? What happens when that too is recognized as a role? As a play, inherently free of any separate I?

When I look here now, I notice all arising as awakeness itself. A field without outside and inside, center or periphery, beginning or end, color or form, and all that is happening as awakeness itself.

And within this, I find the role of a separate I. The role of a doer and observer. The role of a human. The roles this human plays in the world.

All of these roles have a location in time and space, and a particular view and perspective.

As I recognize these as roles, there is an invitation for a shift from identifying with these roles to recognizing them as roles, inherently free from an I with an Other.

There is doing, and a sense of a doer comes when doing is not recognized as a role. There is observing, and the sense of an observer comes when it is taken as what I am and not just a role with its own perspective. There is a human, recognized as a temporary role. And there is whatever roles this human has in the world, also recognized as temporary – and quite accidental – roles, and each come with their own views and perspectives.

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