Inquiry inspired by Hamlet

In last Sundays talk I referenced a line from Hamlet that is particularly timely: 

“I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams”

Questions for you:

  • Do you sometimes feel yourself bounded in a nutshell these days?  Do you ever experience space or spaciousness (whether infinite or not) even when you are limited in what you can do physically, even when you are in a small physical space? What factors or elements of experience are present when you can access that spaciousness and what elements are present when you cannot not?
  • What are the “bad dreams” that Hamlet is talking about? What are they for you?  Do they limit your access to a sense of space or spaciousness? How? Do they always diminish the space or only sometimes?  If only sometimes, what determines the difference?
  • When you allow your “dreams” to arise and witness them in awareness, what happens to the space?
  • Do the dreams (thoughts) appear within the space or does the space appear within the thoughts (dreams) or both?  

Let these questions live with you through the day. Have a light touch with them.  Let interest and curiosity lead. If this inquiry is driving you crazy or causing you to get lost in rumination, drop the questions and simply be present, awake, aware!

Hamlet had insight into the vast (seemingly infinite) nature of consciousness/being/awareness and into one of the great causes of mental suffering and limitation (Being ruled, shaped, dominated by, identified with thoughts/waking dreams), but did not have access teachings or a path of practice to help him work with his dreams directly or to understand the nature of his own infinite space.   He had insight into suffering and its cause but not into (inner) freedom and its cause.

One could say that he understood something of the first, second and third Noble Truths but did not know about the fourth (see below).  He knew there was infinite space but imagined it could only exist in the absence of thought.

  1. Suffering (Dukkha)
  2. Cause (Samudaya)
  3. Cessation (Nirodha)
  4. Path (Magga)

 May you continue to practice with all aspects of life through these challenging times and meet your own experience and that of your fellow humans with awareness and love.