“All the world’s a stage,

and all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances,

and one man in his time plays many parts...”

- William Shakespeare

 

Breaking Character

Rev. Darren M. Baldwin

 

I’m a relatively inexperienced member of our community, and one of the youngest of the “long-term” members of the Temple. I’m in my first year of university, and at the time of writing I am but eighteen years old; however, I have still lived a good bit of life, having gone places and done things that a great majority of people my age (and indeed, older) have not had the chance nor privilege to do. Some may see this as a good thing, while others may think of me as a spoiled brat. Either way, for a great length of time I was convinced that these experiences (along with likings and preferences) made me who I am, and I wasn’t all wrong. In one way of looking at myself, this was true. These things have meaning and we learn from them, but as anyone who’s gotten the chance to learn from Alan Watts will understand, this isn’t the Self.

Watts studied Hinduism, particularly Upanishadic Hinduism, quite a lot, and even referenced the Upanishads quite a few times in The Book (if you don’t know what this is, then I highly recommend the Initiate’s Programme!). In The Book we are told that the truth is that our existence is simply the universe “peopling,” or taking the forms of people and all other things, simply because this is what it does. In this way, we are all part of a collective whole that exists with no true separation between anyone, or anything. This idea of us all truly being expressions of a universal truth was originally a Hindu idea, with Brahman being the ineffable Whole of existence (what Watts calls “It”), atman being the expression for “true-self,” and jiva being the expression of “false-self.”

These are ideas that I find to be eerily echoed in the Bard’s quote at the beginning of this sermon. It is as if, in our lives, we go on living while wearing (and sometimes changing) masks, always adding to them and adapting to situations and trying to be a person. We play many parts, but it can sometimes be difficult to see that what we’re being, our personality, is not really us. It is a mask that we use to hide from ourselves; for the fun of it really. It is the ultimate goal in Upanishadic Hinduism to reduce the jiva, and realize that atman and Brahman are one in the same. In our studies at the Temple, I think we come to realize that we have similar goals, and it may be beneficial if we step back from ourselves to gain insight about our lives from time to time; break character, if you will.

Comments (10)

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Very nicely said.<br /><br />Thank You

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Darren ---<br /><br />This is excellent ! And it is the most appropriate message for the way we would best be considering our 'selves' with regard to the positions we take on about all things. Often we do not see the 'image' (character) imposed...

Darren ---<br /><br />This is excellent ! And it is the most appropriate message for the way we would best be considering our 'selves' with regard to the positions we take on about all things. Often we do not see the 'image' (character) imposed between 'us' and 'them/that'.<br /><br />This message points to our foundations - and we would do best to be much more introspective as people, as a community.<br /><br />And 'young' does not exclude one from wisdom ; you have shown us a proof here.<br /><br />Thank you :-)

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Excellent topic of sermon, and wonderful layout of the point that's been made here Darren. Thank you for this.

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Someone was just speaking about this very thing to me last night. <br />Thank you for your words and the straight-foreword way you've spoken. <br />May the Force be with you, Darren

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Thank you for the sermon.

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It's funny but I understand exactly what you are talking about here, I found myself hiding behind a character for years whilst in a band, it was fun at the time, but ultimately that wasn't the person who I am deep down, I find it strange that i...

It's funny but I understand exactly what you are talking about here, I found myself hiding behind a character for years whilst in a band, it was fun at the time, but ultimately that wasn't the person who I am deep down, I find it strange that i mentioned it earlier in the "'Why women just love to love a bad boy'" thread and then come here to read someone talking about the exact same thing, it's one of those coincidence or force things I love to think about. lol<br /><br />Thankyou for the sermon, I enjoyed it very much.

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Thank you for this...<br />We are more than what we do, and what we look like, we are more than female and male, more than simply a "person"...<br />Appreciate the reminder, easy it is to be stuck in selves singular, personal idea of identity,...

Thank you for this...<br />We are more than what we do, and what we look like, we are more than female and male, more than simply a "person"...<br />Appreciate the reminder, easy it is to be stuck in selves singular, personal idea of identity, when we do not realize how far, and deep our personality can go...

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Excellent Darren...<br /><br />I think about the universe 'peopling' quite often...<br /><br />I am glad I am not alone, lol...:)

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Totally!! I can remember middle and high school and feeling like I had to "build" my personality. I did this at first by copying mannerisms and ideas that I liked from other people, never really judging the value of any of them to myself, just...

Totally!! I can remember middle and high school and feeling like I had to "build" my personality. I did this at first by copying mannerisms and ideas that I liked from other people, never really judging the value of any of them to myself, just assimilating, trying to "be human." Now I spend the most recent part of my life trying to get back down to what I was in the first place! Wonderfully thoguht-provoking, thank you so much!

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Wise words from one so "young". In this life you may be 18 but your essence is as old as time. I don't follow all your references (as I am very green to all of this) however your sentiment regarding masks is imho spot on. I wear too many masks...

Wise words from one so "young". In this life you may be 18 but your essence is as old as time. I don't follow all your references (as I am very green to all of this) however your sentiment regarding masks is imho spot on. I wear too many masks everyday. This is part of the reason I have been seeking out another path. I am encouraged by my ever so brief readings this evening! Thank you!

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