Perhaps Shakespeare had read some of Mazu before writing As You Like It and that famous line “All the world’s a stage.” At least, that’s what I thought when I bumped into this line from Mazu. Or, perhaps, Shakespeare had read Petronius, a first century Roman author of Satyricon, who wrote “…almost the whole world are actors.” Maybe Petronius was the one who had read Mazu, or the Lankavatara Sutra that Mazu was quoting. More likely, none of them had ever heard of each other and it is just a case of what is true being noticed by various people at various times in various places in our history.

There are a number of translations, many use the word “coadjutor”, some use “supporting actor”, I found “director” to be more in line with my experience. Where I used “stagehands”, some have translated it as “companions” or “company”. It seemed to me they were the stagehands that made the performance possible. Then there are the “false thoughts” that fit the bill for delusions like a glove, but I’m not sure about them being the audience, other than being under the influence of the voluntary suspension of reality that attending a theatrical performance entails, a kind of delusion. I sometimes think of myself as a connoisseur of delusions, a sort of sommelier of mistaken thinking. My meditation practice feels like the ongoing training in the never-ending refining of my of my ability to better appreciate the ‘sight’, ‘nose’, ‘palate’ and ‘finish’ of different delusions.

At this time of our lives, in a pandemic, locked down and sheltering in place, the roles that we are accustomed to playing have been rewritten and are continuing to be rewritten at a pace that leaves us with little time to learn our lines, or even know what role we are playing. Mazu did not mention anything about critics, they are certainly part of my experience. The one who is constantly evaluating , ranking, sending out reviews. Who is the one who is aware of all of this, including the critic?

—David Weinstein

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