Imagine an actor who has forgotten they are acting, who believes that they literally are their character and that the circumstances of the play are real. Every challenging scene, every uncomfortable mixture of thoughts, feelings and sensations now feels deeply threatening and in drastic need of escaping, giving rise to all kinds of mental suffering. Then suddenly they remember their real identity again—they are the actor! They are entirely free from the limitations of the play and always were. They could never be defined or threatened by any of its make-believe characters or scenes.
So too, when we identify exclusively with the thoughts and feelings of a seemingly separate character called ‘me’, we psychologically suffer. Realising our true identity—the wonder of undivided being, that could never be added to or taken away from—is called happiness.
This is not to deny or devalue the ‘play’, regarding it as ‘just a story’ or some meaningless illusion. Not at all! Rather we are finally set free to revel in our role, to fully experience the intensity of those feelings and sensations without needing to escape (and even if forgetting or escaping happens that’s part of it too!), free to honour every nuance of the unfolding experience, to celebrate it for the astonishing marvel it truly is.
For our essential nature is the ultimate actor, playing not just one but every part, in not just one but every story. And so too are we the costumes, the props, the scenery, the stage, the lighting, the audience, the entire production of this eternal improvisation—the greatest show on earthlessness.