Just about every high school student at some point comes across William Shakespeare’s works in English or literature class. The Cliff notes are in big demand. His plays and lyric poetry (sonnets) have charmed generations of people. Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and others are still performed live on stage at world renowned theaters. Acting troupes are devoted to presenting his works as authentically as possible, and festivals occur every year drawing large crowds.
Shakespeare is an interesting study full of surprises and delightful insights into life. Take for example, this soliloquy by Prince Hamlet (Act 3, scene1):
“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; …”
The question “to be or not to be” is as relevant today as it was back then.
If someone asked you who you are, what would you say?
Would you talk about your personal history and attributes, mentioning your likes and dislikes? Or perhaps respond by saying; “Well, my name is Bill and I’m a web .net computer programmer at Microsoft. I’ve been happily married to Barbara for eight years and we have two wonder children; Kevin age 6 and Christina age 4. I love the outdoor sport of sailing and mountain biking in the summer, and skiing in the winter. As a hobby I love to make different drafts of beer in my amateur home basement brewery. I love reading and attending Seattle Mariners baseball games.”
These characteristics describe how we may see ourselves in this world of time and space. We use plenty of adjectives (modifying a noun or pronoun) in our effort to build a picture with meaning for ourselves and others. But in retrospect our identity and individuality is illusive, limited when presented in this way.
We are in essence absolute being, timeless and eternal. But the veil of forgetfulness has fallen upon us. We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience.
Being has been described in the Bhagavad Gita as …
“He is never born nor does he ever die;
nor once having been, does he cease to
be. Unborn, eternal, everlasting,
ancient, he is not slain when the body
“Weapons cannot cleave him, nor fire
burn him; water cannot wet him, nor
wind dry him away.”
“He is uncleavable; he cannot be burned;
He cannot be wetted, nor yet can he be
dried. He is eternal, all-pervading,
stable, immovable, ever the same.”
Jiddu Krishnamurti was born in colonial India (1895) and grew as a spiritual teacher under the initial tutelage of Theosophists Charles Leadbeater and Annie Besant. As an enlightened person his view on spirituality was merely that nothing more needed to be done. Everyone is enlightened, has always been, and therefore is divine. From his stand point (already enlightened) that is correct. “Just BE here now, in the present moment” is an instruction.
But from the point of view of the unenlightened, the situation is somewhat different. Sure, everyone is already divine but that’s certainly not our daily reality. We go to work, deal with bills and family issues, and seem to have limited options in life. We hope every day that our job is secure so that we won’t join the ranks of the unemployed. Yes, we have read that we are all expressions of the absolute made in the “image of God,” but for us every day seems to be a challenge with new problems. Clearly something needs to be done to remove the current blanket of ignorance that seems to separate us from living an enlightened reality.
Men and women have asked this question (to be, or not to be) from time immemorial. The ancient Greek aphorism “Know thyself” was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
Meditation serves as a vehicle to remove the curtain of delusion surrounding our true nature.
The unique Restful Alertness experienced during meditation dissolves and releases abnormalities in the nervous system. These irregularities prevent it from functioning normally. They exist on the material (wrong chemical nutrients/components) and structural (stress and strain) levels. Undo pressure from past experiences have created deep impressions (Samskaras) in our mental fabric. They have been caused by overwhelming negative as well as positive experiences. These impressions have colored our personal world view, formed habits and repetitive circular thinking, and prevent our full potential from shining through.
A normal functioning nervous system, free from stress and strain, allows us walk the earth and act from the level of absolute being. Meditate every day to usher in that reality.