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Can a Actor become Enlightened?

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Can a Actor become Enlightened?
Answer
10/17/18 3:02 AM
I was wondering if an actor could become Enlightened and maintain an acting career? I had an experience that I feel gave me a glimpse at enlightenment, where anything I brought my attention to i could find pleasure in but at the same time it also felt like I was feeling all emotions at once both good and bad but there was this overarching feeling of love for all the feelings and the entire world. Experience lasted 3 weeks and then I came down from it. Only bringing this up because I feel like enlightenment may be something like that and when I was having my experience it was very hard for me to imagine being an actor while in that state. I felt like it was more difficult to zone into feelings like depression, anxiety, and general suffering because I had felt to much of love and compassion around those feelings. I know that none of what I am saying makes any sense but that is the best I can do! 

Would love to hear some feedback from Daniel but I want to hear everyones thoughts as well!

Metta

RE: Can a Actor become Enlightened?
Answer
10/17/18 4:51 AM as a reply to Brendan Thorn.
Hi there,

According to the dogma, Angulimala, a killer of 999 people (the victims' cut fingers as a garland around his neck for proof) got to arahat (full liberation).
 
If you can manage the onslaught life throws your way regardless of career choice and are able to do what Daniel describes in the video link below, you can progress towards "enlightenment". Though if the career choice inhibits this practice and inhibits letting go of craving and aversion that arises due to life's onslaught, then it inhibits the practice and the letting go of this craving and aversion. 

https://vimeo.com/250616410


RE: Can a Actor become Enlightened?
Answer
10/17/18 6:13 AM as a reply to Brendan Thorn.
Experiences like the one you describe are quite common and often mistaken for enlightenment, which is something quite different. There are a lot of myths that make it sound like some kind of permanent high where we feel totally safe and loved and loving all the time, but this is basically an escapist fantasy. Not so different from Christians looking forward to the Rapture or going to Heaven. It's nice to have those experiences of bliss and clarity while they last, but they always end and even very awake people experience confusion, anxiety, and all sorts of other painful, unpleasant, and difficult stuff because that's the human condition. We may be able to learn how to find some peace in these difficult experiences, to experience them in a different and better way which makes all the difference, but we cannot escape them.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu explains the history of the word Nibbana (aka Nirvana) as meaning something that has cooled. Like when you ladle out a bowl of soup: at first it is too and will burn your mouth, but then it becomes cool enough to eat. Soup that has cooled just enough to eat is nibbana. So we could say that Nirvana is the coolest place in the oven. 

And BTW I would say that acting is a great choice of profession for a person practicing for awakening, as stepping into the perspective of others can help loosen our attachments to a solid selse of self. 

Best wishes for your practice!

RE: Can a Actor become Enlightened?
Answer
10/17/18 9:32 AM as a reply to Brendan Thorn.
Disclaimer: I make no claims of being either a good actor or of being enlightened. I just have a passing interest in both topics, so I figured I would share some of my thoughts.

What you are asking absolutely makes sense.

Great actors are not great because they are more "emotional" than others. They are great because they are more sensitive, and more willing to share that sensitivity. As Sanford Meisner said, "Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances."

The audience doesn't want to see "depressed" or "anxious". They want to see a real person doing real things in a difficult situation. Your task is not to focus on emotion. It is to focus on objectives. Unless enlightenment somehow completely eliminates all motivation from you, you will still be a human being with drives, and those drives will be interesting to watch, if you can hook them into the scene that you are playing.

I find this way of looking at things very interesting, because it is so similar to what is practiced in meditation. (Meditation teaches you to view all circumstances as imaginary?)

Have you read "A Practical Handbook for the Actor"? If not, you should. Here's an excerpt:

"Let's say that your action is to knock sense into a friend. You have analyzed the scene and decided that you will deliver a certain line "angrily." That pre-planned moment in the scene arrives and your partner is doing absolutely nothing to engender anger in you. In fact the feelings that have been awakened in you, over which you have no control, are of a very tender nature. Still you deliver the line angrily. What is the result? First, you have taken yourself of the scene because you are not dealing with what is happening in the other person or your organic responses to him. Second, your action has ceased to operate, because you are merely portraying the emotional state of "being angry" instead of carrying through with your action based on the exigencies of the moment. From the audience's point of view you will appear both wooden and out of sync; after all, nothing organic precipitated your angry outburst. To put it simply, you can't fool an audience. They will immediately see that you have acted a lie."

RE: Can a Actor become Enlightened?
Answer
10/17/18 6:08 PM as a reply to Brendan Thorn.
I have a friend who used to be an actor while being a very devoted meditator. He is now a full time Dharma teacher with the IMS organization. His name is Pascal Auclair. You may want to look him up.


Benoit