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on being an actor among pretenders


'it was a basement of a house in the height-ashbury area of san francisco in the early 1960s. the room was full of the baba ramdas-lookalike young men and yogini looking young women. the air was thick with the pot-smelling smoke. in a corner, there was a small crowd gathered around what looked like buddha, dressed in the robe of the monk from sri lanka. a young man dressed in the tattered hippie jeans and matching shirt sat sad faced in one side of the room. i went to him and asked what was the matter with him. : i am jesus christ,: said he, "but nobody listens to me; they don't even recognize me when i have come to them in the attire of the day."' - from the book of unamerican dreams and dissent.

according to 'the bharatnatyashshtra', a book on the theatrics, what draws the viewer's attention first is the difference. the hippie generation itself was fashioned to stand apart from the main stream culture. christ and christianity belonged to their parents' generation. this difference it is that draws westerners to the eastern outlook, and turns off the young eastern minds from any outlook that glorifies the poverty.

so when the leaders of world's two touted democracies met, both of them acted out their roles dressed in attires befitting the stage, one in the three piece suit that impresses the colonial indian mindset, and the other in pseudo-jamindar, the upper class landlord, who, too impresses the indian masses. also shown in the picture is the "first lady" of the u.s. who had to iron her hair required of the african american women to look appealing to their men who do not like the women of kinky hair. it is all the matter of the element of difference that draws attention.

an actor is required to perform, in looks as well outlooks, as the director of the play demands. this makes the world affairs to be a play within the play within the play within the play unto infinity. in it, its minutest form is performed by the physical person as directed by one's self image acquired from the school syllabus. and one enters school unaware of its syllabus's list of the role playing. as the range of student's knowing expands, one begins to see that that is not what one had needed to know or do. then one feels trapped, much like an unsuspecting creature of the wild gets trapped in the cage or corral, and then is induced to perform for the paying spectators.

since no matter how minimal may one's interaction be with other humans, one feels like being an actor among pretenders (professional actors). all professionals sustain their living by acting out what they have been taught, and dare not to be seen when not performing.

'what is one outside of the cultivated, manifested identity acting out the script' is not the matter of pondering as 'who are you?' is not the question arising among actors. on stage, one is already assumed to be somebody assembled from their telltale descriptions of the lead roles from the readings people are required to concoct, a lao-tsu, buddha, jesus, gandhi, or conversely, a hitler, osama bin laden, or even a fool or an unearthly being. untold one never experiences the lack of any fixed identity, even that of a minimalist arising from the existence of an earthworm. in a non role-playing existence there is no question of 'what next' as one is all too involved in the motions in the ever unfolding now. and yet, as the lowest life form the earthworm is assumed to be, every farmer appreciates its share of work in enriching the soil.

in observing the flow of motions it is not the description of the event, but the linking characteristics of the elements brought together by the nurtured thought out senses of natural beings aids one's interactions. being off the stage, one also sees that the ones who sit in the audience are also acting out their roles as auditors, giving standing ovations or denouncing performances as prompted by others who played the critics employed by the media and art galleries. one begins to move away from the performing stage that shakespeare saw the world to be but felt comfortable playing the role of the playwright. there is a small stanza of buddha's awakening of the freedom from the role playing self:

when looking, see what's before the eyes,
when hearing, listen to the words muttered;
see not with the ears nor hear with eyes,
know it yourself without what buddha uttered.

denude all the professionals of their robes, insignias, pins and stripes designating their roles as leaders of state, church, or social group, and they would lose their worshipping throng; remove the nameplates of the authorship from the works of art and the fame will fade away from the prized works of collectors. that's what happens when one sees things as they are, and not because of the description or the doer; when hearing what is said and not for the title of the speaker, the lecture halls and classrooms and sermon halls would be empty.

individually the buddha might have met a few of the fellow beings who were also awakened beings, but as far as the evidenced story goes, the buddha was not seen to be anything but an awakened being who was unlike all other beings. he must have alone, unseen, unheard, un-responded. alone, but without the sense of loneliness. then, after buddha's death, those who were among his first listeners began to play roles of the conveyers of what they thought the buddha had meant.

when one becomes aware of the almost all encompassing mode of the commerce controlled modern culture, one considers living away from the urban mold. when questing for a place to live one observes that one is ill-equipped to exist in a world populated with a possessive mindset. a non possessive person may not have means to pay a person to let go of his ownership of land one would live without owning it. were one a creature in the wild, especially of a group of primitives or birds and animals who have no territorial concepts, the very quest and question of it would not have arisen.

there are still patches of land where people are non possessive to varying degrees. and, bigger patches of land are still offered to people playing the haloed beings within the belief system of that community.

in the ever evolving perception of the nature of things causing change in different needs arises a quest for a place devoid of sense of possession. in a lucid dream-like state of being may be observed the nature of possessiveness. it is nothing but the fear of insecurity. and that fear is the motivating force for the desire to hide oneself, not be seen. and the school syllabus offers one to acquire a role and robe with all required signs and symbols for the characters and learn to play according to the given script.

it is thus that the two actors, one american and one indian playing the leadership role are striving to hide their senses of inferiority to the caucasian race instilled into their upbringing in the apartheid regime. each one has to stand tall in the watching eyes of the critics in the employ of those who play superior to the dark skin. it is thus that an american speaking his lines in a dialogue with an iranian cannot accept the latter's right to stand on equal footing. a living on equal footing is possible only in absence of the acquired sense of insecurity that makes for the comparative worth. and unless there are those who are kept inferior one cannot be seen to be superior.

it happens in a minimal state of existence; in it there is no duality between on and off the stage differences, the urge to win applause not manifesting; no praying, not experiencing the sense of deprivation. is knowing when enough is enough, very much like the automatic switch of the gasoline pump that turns off the pump when the tank is full.


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