Shakespeare poses a provocative question—“to be or not to be?”—within the opening to Hamlet’s soliloquy. A choice between the darker challenges of life or the unknown freedoms of death. But is that the question we must really ask ourselves? Or is the real question “to BE or not to BE?” A question asking if we are choosing, often unknowingly, a life-full (to BE) or a life-less (not to BE) existence, in the way we go about living our lives—here and now.
“To BE or not to BE?”
One of the most famous, often spoken questions, is the opening to Hamlet’s soliloquy, in which he ponders the choice between life and death—to be or not to be? A choice in which one can face the incessant challenges of the darker side of life or opt for the “freedom” but unknown opportunities of death. A choice between the known aspects of one’s life situation and the unknown possibilities beyond this life. A choice between the inaction of continuing to live while mired in the circumstances of one’s life or action in choosing to move beyond them to those unknown one’s which may lie beyond the earthly realm.
With all due respect to Shakespeare, one of the most brilliant and eloquent writers who captured the human experience that we have ever known, his question via the proxy of Hamlet and its contemplation is much too narrow. His characterization of life (to be) is too dark, empty, and fatalistic. It speaks to only helplessness within the human condition, which raises the plausibility of death at one’s own hands as the answer. A life which does comport to the ones being lived by those of us who would summarily describe their life as “poor” or “fair.” The question leaves them with no desirable option within the living realm. It offers no genuine hope for those who choose to remain in their earthly life and move beyond it –here! It also bypasses those of us who have found their way to the “good” and “great” versions of themselves and life. The ‘to be’ in Hamlet’s question is intended to represent life but in many respects describes a lifeless life and offers no recognition of the options and answers to be found within the present human and spiritual realm—to Be.
From the perspective of Ego, Spirit & You, the real question is, “To BE or not to BE?” A question which involves choosing between a life-full (to BE) or lifeless (not to BE) existence—here and now! A question in which one has come to fully know the word BE. A recognition in which BE and its “cousins” being and becoming, come forth when our ego energy is in balance. This balance of power, flexibility, and vulnerability, allowing us to share control and influence with life and others, ability to adapt to the ever changing nature of life, and ability to healthily work with the imperfections of ourselves, others, and life. A person with healthy ego energy would never find their way to alternatives to living—be it Hamlet’s or our version of ’not to be’. We can also BE in the recognition of the Love, Life, and Energy—God Is within our being, and the Great Gifts of Life, Creating Life, Eternal Life, and God Within, that everyone who has ever lived have been given.
“To BE or not to BE?”—that is the real question!
Dr. Nickolas Martin is a licensed psychologist who has worked in clinical, university, public school and private practice settings as a therapist, diagnostician, educator and consultant for 35 years. He authored Ego Therapy: A Method for Healing Your Whole Self and co-authored with Rev. Linda M. Martin, EgoSpiritualism: Awakening to Your Human and Divine Self and The Two Voices Within: Balancing the Energies of Ego and Spirit to Enhance Your Life.