I am the character
On the stage
In a dream
Is to insert
Of different character
Onto the stage
Into the dream...
To do whatever is required of you in any situation without it becoming a role that you identify with is an essential lesson in the art of living that each one of us is here to learn. You become most powerful in whatever you do if the action is performed for its own sake rather than as a means to protect, enhance, or conform to your role identity. Every role is a fictitious sense of self, and through it everything becomes personalized and thus corrupted and distorted by the mind made “little me” and whatever role it happens to be playing. Most of the people who are in positions of power in this world, such as politicians, TV personalities, business as a well as religious leaders, are completely identified with their role, with a few notable exceptions. They may be considered VIPs, but they are no more than unconscious players in the egoic game, a game that looks so important yet is ultimately devoid of true purpose. It is, in the words of Shakespeare, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Amazingly, Shakespeare arrived at this conclusion without having the benefit of television. If the egoic earth drama has any purpose at all, it is an indirect one: It creates more and more suffering on the planet, and suffering, although largely ego-created, is in the end also ego-destructive. It is the fire in which the ego burns itself up.
In a world of role-playing personalities, those few people who don't project a mind made image – and other are some even on TV, in the media, and the business world – but function from the deeper core of their Being, those who do not attempt to appear more than they are but are simply themselves, stand out as remarkable and are the only ones who truly make a difference in this world. They are the bringers of the new consciousness. Whatever they do becomes empowered because it is in alignment with the purpose of the whole. Their influence, however, goes far beyond what they do, far beyond their function. Their mere presence – simple, natural, unassuming – has a transformational effect on whoever they come into contact with.
When you don't play roles, it means there is no self (ego) in what you do. There is no secondary agenda: protection or strengthening of yourself. As a result, your actions have far greater power. You are totally focused on the situation. You become one with it. You don't try to be anybody in particular. You are most powerful, most effective, when you are completely yourself. But don't try to be yourself That's another role. It's called “natural, spontaneous me.” As soon as yo are trying to be this or that, you are playing a role. “Just be yourself” is good advice, but it can also be misleading. The mind will come in and say, “Let's see. How can I be myself?” Then, the mind will develop some kind of strategy: “How to be myself.” Another role. “How can I be myself?” is, in fact, the wrong yourself. It implies you have to do something to be yourself. But how doesn't apply here because you are yourself already. Just stop adding unnecessary baggage to who you already are. “But I don't know who I am. I don't know what it means to be myself.” If you can be absolutely comfortable with not knowing who you are, then what's left is who you are – the Being behind the human, a field of pure potentiality other than something that is already defined.
Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as a field of conscious Presence.
Why does the ego play roles? Because of one unexamined assumption, one fundamental error, one unconscious thought. That thought is: I am not enough. Other unconscious thoughts follow: I need to play a role in order to get what I need to be fully myself; I need to get more so that I can be more. But you cannot be more than you are because underneath your physical and psychological form, you are one with Life itself, one with Being. In form, you are and will always be inferior to some, superior to others. In essence, you are neither inferior nor superior to anyone. True self esteem and true humility arise out of that realization. In the eyes of the ego, self esteem and humility are contradictory. In truth, they are one and the same.
—Eckhart Tolle, excerpt taken from chapter 4 of his book "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose"