“I have within me that which passeth show. These are but the suits of woe.”
Hamlet uttered these words one day when moping about the castle he was confronted by his family about his despondent mood. He was saying, “Hey, you think this is depressed. This is nothing. This is only a cloak of depression; but I have within me the real thing.”
Shakespeare knew that life was but a “show”, a display of what was going on within our hearts, individually and collectively. He was the greatest psychiatrist that we have any real record of, though I think Jesus Christ and Lao Tzu…to name but two…could have given him a run for his money if we had more of a record of their wisdom. Shakespeare had a grasp of the human heart because he had a grasp of his own heart and could therefore convey this wisdom in the characters of his plays. Without this ability to sublimate into thoughts, concepts, and literary contrivance he well might have ended up escaping into the abyss of alcohol or some other worser fate.
The Bard knew of the unconscious realm long before Freud and Jung made it popular. He was familiar with the heart’s ravenous impulsivity, its abysmal darkness which knows no restraint, which would not permit civilization without the intervention of the gods who provided that marvelous contrivance which we know today as the neocortex. And, though he had no knowledge of modern neurological science, with his God-given intelligence, intuition, and humility he knew “it” was there though he could not define it as we can today.
I look at the insanity of our world today…and reflect back on my own, realizing that it is not a thing of the past…and wonder, “Why do we do this to ourselves?” I then am reminded of my gifted guru, Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk in Albuqurque, Nm., who has interpreted the words of Jesus who on the cross said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” to mean, “Father, forgive them for they are unconscious.” And I reflect back on the stupid, ugly, self-serving, and mean-spirited things I have done and said in the name of religion and realize just how much I had no idea what I was doing and saying. And, yes, that ignorance is still with me, no doubt!