Insubstantial Pageant

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Here are two quotations I like. One is by William Shakespeare and the other by Bill Hicks. I list the one by Shakespeare first. You could say I give him top Bill-ing.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

The Tempest, Act IV, Scene 1, William Shakespeare, 1611

Alan Watts comments: “…and said so well, it doesn't seem so bad after all, does it?”

Shakespeare sounds like a Hindu or Buddhist here, that what we view as reality is like a weaving of smoke, a fantastic dream.


“Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the weather.” — Bill Hicks

The above quotation from Bill Hicks seems to be in the style of a news broadcast, but it stops before revealing the ultimate truth: what the weather is going to be. Actually, although expressed in a facetious manner, what the young man on acid realized is the fundamental teaching of Hinduism and Buddhism.

Hinduism and Buddhism are not about taking somebody else's word for what the divine mystery is. There is no set of rules handed down from above for one to obey with “blind” faith. They are about a direct experience of reality through a transformation of consciousness.

I have always been amused when a news program announces “Today's weather is brought to you by…” What if the weather is bad? Should I call the sponsor and complain about it? — The Bicycling Guitarist