Writing Your Play and Directing Your Life
by George Pitagorsky
Imagine being in a play where your character is dissatisfied with his/her life, experiences fear, anger, jealousy, anxiety, impatience, sadness and more. She reacts and behaves unskillfully. As long as the actor realizes that it is an act, no problem; there is entertainment.
But if the actor takes on the persona of the character and suffers and behaves as if the play was real, that is a problem.
To a degree that is what happens to all of us. We mistake the role for our true nature. We experience fear, anger, and all the other negative emotions and react because we take the events of our lives too seriously and identify with the reactive part of ourselves. We forget that we are playing a role.
The alternative is to get increasingly in touch with the part of ourselves that is an objective observer accepting whatever comes without either liking it or disliking it. This is mindfulness coupled with what Tara Brach calls radical acceptance. It means giving up the habit of continuous merciless, relentless, self judgment and the habit of clinging to pleasant things and rejecting the unpleasant.
Remembering that he is an actor and that the play is a play the actor can take on script writer and director roles and craft a new character as the play proceeds.
In other words, the play is subject to dynamic change. The character evolves as discriminating wisdom and good judgment are the basis for conscious choice. Responsiveness replaces reactivity. Skillful behavior replaces unskillful behavior. Performance improves. Happiness replaces anxiety and dissatisfaction. Dysfunctional relationships are resolved.
The ability to effectively write your own script and direct your play depends on your recognition that self generated change is possible and worth the risk and effort. Other factors include your confidence, intention and motivation, your patience, and the degree to which your mind is trained in mindfulness, and concentration.
To say one of these factors is more important than the others would be like saying one link in a chain is more important than the other links. Without the awareness of the possibility of self generated change there is no intention. Without intention and motivation there is insufficient effort. With insufficient effort and a lack of patience the belief that change is impossible is reinforced. Without a mind capable of being present and one pointed in the face of a multitude of constant distractions there will be insufficient effort and insufficient understanding.
Often, there is a spontaneous awareness of the play as a play as opposed to absolute reality. An accident occurs and in a flash there is at least a question about whether there is more to life than what it seemed. In the movie The Truman Show, Truman was unconscious of being in a TV series about his life. Everyone else was playing a role. He thought it was his life. One day an accident occurred that prompted him to investigate his situation and ultimately break out of the show into reality.
Meditation prepares the mind so that it is accident prone. Or, more precisely, prone to be able to see the accident when it occurs.
Once you get to the point of accepting the reality that you are caught in a play, written so that you are bound to live out a preconditioned life in a preconditioned way, you are ready to become the script writer/director. You become open to change and confronted with the responsibility to direct your own life and make your own choices.
Sometimes, having awakened, there is the desire to go back, to take the easy way out of simply playing out your script, reacting because that's the natural thing to do. But, there is no way to go back. Once you are awake you are awake. You can make believe you are still playing your role, but it will never be the same. You will know on some level that you are fooling yourself.
© 2012 Pitagorsky Consulting