To Be, Or Not To Be?
In April 2016 Shakespeare 400 was celebrated — Yes, 400 years have passed since the great playwright and poet was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, England and that got me thinking: What might the omnipotent yet elusive William Shakespeare have thought about Mindfulness?
He would be bound to have thought some-thing, don’t you think?
More than 400 years ago, he predates psychology in the most spectacular and insightful fashion, by giving us characters of such remarkable richness and archetypes of such persistent pertinence.
Emotion & Action
He wrote of emotions and the actions that result from them in ways that were never less than wholly telling and entirely authentic: Of Love as fresh as paint: Of Hatreds as dangerous as plutonium: Of Murders as black as pitch.
But would Mindfulness be something of which he could have known?
In my Book, ‘Uncovering Mindfulness:In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’, I write about its origins which lay not in Buddhism, but Hinduism and date back to circa 1500 BC.
It was originally developed and used by Brahmans to describe the the memorising of large bodies of text known as Verdic Scriptures that they would do by entering into a new consciousness — zooming in to a zone of clarity and presence, free of all distractions.
A few hundred years later, Buddha adapted the Brahmanical usage and then broadened it to mean both ‘Memory’ (of texts) and the ‘Presence of Mind’ (in meditation).
Mindfulness was then taken up by Doaists in 5th Century BC China, Christianity and Judaism in the 5th and 6th Century AD, and Islam in the 9th Century AD.
By the early Middle Ages Mindfulness was flowering with the introduction of communal monasteries and developed through centering prayer. Whilst around the same time Jewish contemplative practices (Qabbla or Kabbalah) were influenced by it and Muslims based their Mindfulness tradition on the practice of Sufism, which is predicated on a search for a direct confrontation with the Divine, visualised as Love or an all-consuming fire.
So, Mindfulness was very much alive and kicking at the time and in the world that Shakespeare lived. Whilst we know through his Plays and Sonnets that he had an erudition and world view that reflected an Age driven by an enlightened Renaissance and an increasing Global reach.
East Meets West
East and West had not only met, they had each been enriched by Trade and the exchange of ideas and philosophies.
And whilst Mindfulness is no more Eastern than electricity is Western, it did move from it’s origins, East to West. Borne by discourse, practice and observance.
Shakespeare, along with many other great thinkers and writers from throughout history, inform both my Book and my wider writing on Mindfulness, as well as Leadership and Complexity.
This is because for me Mindfulness represents both the Universal and the Particular. It is something so very simple, yet both profound and possibly life changing.
Refuge To Man Or Woman Is The Mind
And Refuge to the Mind is Mindfulness.
“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all; And thus the native hue of resolution is sickled o’er with the pale cast of thought” (Hamlet, Act 3, Sc 1).
With Mindfulness there is no need to cower, or fear anything. There is no need to apologise for the past, denigrate the present, or worry about what might happen, because and here’s something that Shakespeare would have most certainly understood –Your thoughts are just that, your thoughts, &, are of no more significance or import than an Agate stone on the forefinger of an Alderman.
So, the answer to the question is I believe that Shakespeare would have thought that we just need To Be!
Tener en Cuenta and exit stage left, pursued by a Bear!
Paul Mudd is the author of ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ available on Amazon and ww.bookboon.com; the ‘Coffee & A Cup Of Mindfulness’and the ‘Mindful Hacks For Mindful Living & Mindful Working’ series. Through The Mudd Partnership he works with business leaders, organisations and individuals in support of change, leadership excellence and introducing Mindfulness. You can find out more about who he is and what he does at www.themuddpartnership.co.uk and he can also be contacted at [email protected]
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Originally published at medium.com