When Ramanaha Maharshi sought to explain life, he used the analogy of a movie. He described life as happening on a movie screen – fleeting, transient images that were not “real,” but gave the appearance of reality. “Reality,” he maintained, took place somewhere else.
I want to expand a bit on Maharshi’s analogy. But instead of a movie, I’m going to use the example of a play. In this analogy, you are both in the audience and an actor.
The actor is somewhat unaware of the audience and is busy playing her part. She has donned her costume – a body. That means she will have to protect it – from harm, disease, etc. and that she will become attached to it – especially to it’s harm or loss. It also means that she will feel pain and anxiety. Having a physical form also gives her a sense of separation, and although this creates a sense of safety, it also leads to loneliness.
The title of the play is “Life.” The plot of the play has to do with the growth and development of your consciousness. The script consists of lessons (you call them problems). Resolving your problems (love is the only answer) will develop your awareness, deepen your consciousness and bring you closer to enlightenment.
The silent but profound influence in the play is the role played by your feeling separated from the Creator. When you come to earth and take on a body, you must spiritually disconnect from Source. This is intended. It surfaces your latent feelings of abandonment and rejection, leading in turn to feelings of vulnerability and self-doubt. You have come to earth to resolve these issues. And they must be resolved if you are to move forward in your development. This would not be possible if you knew that you were safely ensconced in His care.
The first act of the play is about your childhood. You brought in a set of growth challenges to work on – places where you do not move energy well, like unworthiness, shame or self love. Your life circumstances will be perfectly crafted to give you opportunities to work on these issues.
The way this works is that your parents, because of their own unresolved fears, trigger these latent issues. This leads you to believe things about yourself that are not true – things like unworthiness, unlovability or shame. These perfectly conform to what you brought in to work on (some coincidence, huh?).
Your parents also share their social values and morays with you, which as a trusting child, you accept and try to practice. Many of these are good, others not so. The bottom line is that you are given exactly what you need to effect the transformation of your consciousness.
The dominant emotion of the first act is fear, expressed through the ego. We create the ego because we think it will keep us safe. It separates us from others, giving us a temporary feeling of security, but really it puts us at greater risk for feeling abandoned and rejected. The ego manifests through the limiting beliefs you hold about yourself.
The second act of the play begins with school and progresses though young adulthood. This is when you leave to protective umbrella of your parents and start to fend for yourself in the wider world. In that world other values conflict with what you have been taught and what you have come to believe.
This is a time of searching, of questioning, of being caught between what you have come to believe, especially about yourself, and the truth. It is typically a time of exploration, of angst and considerable confusion. You either resolve the conflict and grow from it or retreat back into disillusionment and pain. We see the ending of many first marriages at this period of people’s lives.
Act three, adulthood, brings you to the conflict, sometimes a life and death struggle, between the false beliefs you cling to and the truth. Surrender generally does not come easily. Lifelong beliefs supported by a powerful ego can be very difficult to dislodge. This period can be one of great pain and confusion as the conflict between old beliefs, supported by years of negative experiences conflict with the truth. There can be considerable internal stress as the two clash.
Resistance and denial are common. In this stage some people are literally brought to their knees because of their unwillingness to accept the truth. For some this will manifest physically as disease or for others, emotionally as intolerable stress. The situation literally becomes, “change or die.” Even though these people resist with all their might, the truth will eventually win out in spite of their fear.
The wisdom gained from these human experiences is not lost on the observer in the audience. To the actor, absorbed in the drama of the play and the worldly concerns of the ego, the larger lessons of her experiences may not be readily apparent. But to the other, these life lessons have deepened her perception, allowed her to live closer to the truth and reduced her need to be defended. She has also increased her level of awareness, leading to greater compassion.
Let’s use the concept of love to see how this works. In the ego state, love relates to form – it objectifies – “I love you,” or “You love me.” But when you transcend the ego, the need for a form – something to objectify – ceases to be relevant. Love is no longer connected to a person or an idea. In fact, it has no thoughts connected too it at all. Real love is beyond language, it is simply, “I love.”
We are taught that we need to awaken. It would be more accurate to say that we need to take the risk and overcome our fear so that we can become more compassionate. At present we are too wrapped up in our fear of rejection to take that risk. We need to feel safe from the idea that we can be harmed, but that will change. . .
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