“Zen in its essence is the art of seeing into the nature of one’s being, and it points the way from bondage to freedom.” D.T. Suzuki
We are all tied down by the chains we have forged for ourselves. Charles Dickens said this in A Christmas Carol about Scrooge. He said it about all of us. It took Scrooge one night to undo a lifetime of links. It takes the rest of us a little longer. If we could get through all the muck that we have built up over our lifetime and see our true nature, we would be better actors.
Zen Koans are puzzles asked by the master to the student. The student has to go away and try to figure out the answer. If he gets it right, the master gives him another Koan. If he gets it wrong, he has to think about it some more.
A famous Zen Koan is “What was your original face before your mother and father was born?” In other words, what is your soul really like? It is a quest that each of us should not undertake lightly. But we must all undertake it. For how can we truly understand Hamlet’s nature if we don’t understand our own?
Once you understand yourself, every character is easy. This is true because every character is you. I am Hamlet. I am Willie Loman. I am the third guy with a spear from the left. There is no difference. We are all one. Just as I am one with every other being on this planet. There is nothing you cannot understand. There can never be an unmotivated action or an unsupported vocalization. There is just you. There is just truth.
How does one start on this journey into one’s own nature? There are many paths. Mediation is a good way to start. It doesn’t take a lot of money and it’s non-fattening. Just find some time in your day that you can spend quietly by yourself. Get comfortable and let your mind wander. Use the breathing technique discussed previously. Try not to hold on to any thought but let it enter your mind then pass through. Explore the aspects of yourself through meditation. Don’t make any value judgments; just accept them as part of yourself and move on. Learn to love and accept who you are and you will learn to accept the world.
Give yourself two weeks of meditation. Start with five minutes per day and gradually increase the time. If you find this process soothing and uplifting, read more about meditation or study it with a teacher. If you realize that this is not for you, find another way.