Actor, Entertainer and Ego
Denise Lawrence describes the emergence and the influence of the self indulgent actor who resides in all of us.
Satellite dishes perch on the shanty towns of Rio de Janeiro, Calcutta and the Indian reservations of Arizona, next to piles of corrugated iron and cardboard where people attest to the great power of entertainment and its hold over the world. The entertainer has enormous influence. However, little is known about how far the performance reaches into individual lives all over the world.
A blues guitarist recently on radio describes how sometimes his performance can be so perfect that the audience is totally moved and the other musicians entranced. It is as if he moves beyond performing, and observes from somewhere else; where the ego-consciousness is not involved. He can be moved to tears by his own music as if he were in the audience – an amazing, almost mystic experience.
Michelangelo, too, said of his sculptures “The figures are already in there, l just peel of the excess marble. ” Statues , though perhaps more in his time, continue to have a strong impact on people’s lives.
Most of us have had similar mystical moments. The difference between someone good and someone great is the ability to completely detach from their creation or performance. Though we may not exactly be remembered in history as great, whenever we experience that detachment we move into the dimension of greatness for a while. That sense of greatness is very real and an important spiritual component in a person’s life.
All of us are actors. If we look within, we are bound to discover a crowd of charachters. Within a single day, one plays such a variety of parts. Some parts are played in the same costume and sometimes costumes must be changed. At every change of scene, a new charachter within is projected into the drama of our lives.
We adopt certain postures that are peculiar to ourselves and certain situations. If we are in a business situation, our businessman will come out and we will talk in our business voice, we will dress, hold our body and be tough in a certain way and when the businessman’s part is over he merges within. The next situation calls forth forth another charachter inside us. We will find a few dozen charachters inside. Eventually the moment comes when we ask which one is me, or ” Will the real me please stand up ?” It’s one of the hardest questions to answer.
Humans are creatures of habit. Our inner charachters have their habits too, and every so often one will come out to say ” l am going to be here all day ! I don’t care what the situation is ! ” Some of us have a policeman inside and whether or not it is appropriate he could preside over the entire day. When we use a charachter inappropriately, it is inevitable that something will go wrong. If our observer self stays asleep, our various charachters, out of pure habit, may continue to act unsuitably. But if our observer awakens, he would ask “Hey, what’s going on ? This is not what you should be doing. ”
Being locked in a role makes us pretentious as we try to impress others, using our act to get everbody’s attention. When we are ‘on form’, and ‘on a roll’, indulging in our acting, we don’t care whether the situation merits it or not, we are having a good time and are not going to quit. We quickly tread on someone’s toes, become out of sync with our real self, our spirituality.
Our purpose in meditation is to awaken the observer self. Our alertness enables us to send the charachter whose time is up backstage, and to call the next player. When the observer is skilled, responsible and confident, this works well. The actor and observer are complementary opposites. A spiritual master is skilled in moving between the two and balances both to perfection.
Normally in Western culture, perfection is an extreme end of the scale and anything that is not at that extreme is not perfect. However, in truth, perfection is dead centre of the balance. We become out of balance when we move towards extreme success and perpetuate this display. This is called an ego problem.
Ego is slippery and difficult to see in the self, while it is easy to see in the next person. Spiritual study and practice invites us to work at very deep levels; deeper than those of the ego.
Our conscience can act as a barometer to identify instantly when we are wrong or right. A wrong act is produced by false ego. Spiritual work increases or sensitivity and skilfulness in reading our barometer and seeing our activity each day. When we are putting on an act, this is the last thing we want to do. The observer needs to be there with sufficient potency to counterbalance our self-expression when it moves into self indulgence. The observer will then send a message to the director.
How do we know when we are acting properly ? It feels right. The sensibility to recognise the line between what feels intuitively right and when it is wrong can be developed. Whenever we use the expression “It seemed like a good idea at the time…..” it indicates to our observer, who is connected with our conscience, the intellect and understanding, that we were being egotistical at the time.
We must also learn to observe our thoughts, and that includes comments on what we have done. Whether private, internal comments, or words that come out of our mouths, they are all tell-tale. We need to know what words are signs of. Then we can master the ‘production ‘ of the mind, body and soul.
The fundamental discernment we need to have is that the charachters inside us are not the essence. Each one is merely a projection of a facet which may be suitable for particular expression. Our problem is that we go overboard, or out of line.
Ultimately, we are the directors, and it is through our mastery and self-regard that we can ensure that the entire play, performed by ourselves as the main actors, unfolds to our total satisfaction.