Recently I spent time with a friend who a few days previously experienced a traumatic interpersonal and intrapersonal event. A few hours into our day he expressed that he feels for the first time since the episode that he is “stepping out of the drama of what happened”. This caused me to reflect on my own absorption in life’s drama, and on the distinction between living life and living in the drama of life.
Of course life has its natural adventure, full of color and emotion. I distinguish this from “drama”, in the sense of something external to the stuff of life itself. We cling to drama in a shadow attempt to experience the richness and excitement of living. In distancing himself from the whirlpool of the drama, my friend described a significant shift of experience, from lamentation to genuine compassion, for all involved, himself included. He was able to see lucid spiritual purpose, and practical lessons for his growth as a person, behind the unfolding of events. Also he realized the extent to which he was invested in continuing the drama, to get payoffs such as attention, sympathy, feeling right, and an excuse for not courageously moving forward with life.
Bhagavad-gita, one of my favorite books of wisdom, describes the lotus consciousness, where we are in the world though not influenced by the drama of it, as the lotus is in the water though simultaneously untouched by it. This state of being is free from lament about the past, and hankering for a particular future. Fully present in the present, we live with a sense of urgency. Urgency does not mean crisis, nor panic and anxiety. It is living in the moment (not for the moment)- a constant commitment to creating life-enriching value.
This lotuslike state evinces caring non-attachment. To the extent that we cultivate such a way of being we empower others to rise above the fray on the dramatic stage, and connect with the true life of the self. This shift of consciousness represents genuine spiritual progress, as we identify ourselves as the spiritual entities we are, transcendent to the physical, mental and intellectual platforms.
It would be a misconception to think that such a drama-free paradigm is dry or empty. In fact, such a misunderstanding of the reality of spiritual existence is why many people hold on tightly to the ephemeral drama, thinking it essential for a sense of vitality. Actually, authentic spiritual experience is sublimely diverse, alive and vibrant, the pure form of what we seek without fulfillment in preoccupation with dramas. In fact, Sanjaya, the narrator of Bhagavad-gita, described it as a “thrill at every moment.”
Let’s consider in what environments, and in which relationships, we tend to be living life, and where we tend towards enacting a drama. With such awareness we can notice the difference in experience. From there we can choose increased living, and decreased drama, where we think that it will serve us and others.