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Method in the Madness
It’s a tale as old as time: jealousy, vengeance, drama, and death. Reenacted in state and stage, generation after generation. In all cultures. And one master storyteller portrays this perpetual performance like no other — the peerless literary genius, William Shakespeare.
For this week’s article, I’d like to focus on one of the Bard’s lesser-known characters - a pompous fellow by the name of Polonius. A member of the Royal Court, Polonius served as the chief counselor to King Claudius. And while we might not be familiar with Polonius by name, his meddling insistence and treacherous deceit ultimately lead to the tragic deaths of many, including his daughter Ophelia and her love, Hamlet.
This conniving, self-important character will also be killed as a result of his own witless actions. But not before he displays a flash of insight in a brief discussion with Hamlet.
Allow me to briefly frame the context: Hamlet is avenging the murder of his father, the King of Denmark. The young prince feigns insanity as part of his plan to expose the killer, Claudius. Enter Polonius, attempting to ascertain the reasoning behind Hamlet’s erratic behavior.
Hamlet speaks in riddles and nonsensical phrases, responding to Polonius’s questions with deeply veiled sarcastic and cryptic answers. To which Polonius utters an aside, “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”
Method in the madness.
Such a profound phrase, providing us a cogent catalyst for discussing the nature of what we call “life”.
Most madness is doubly maddening, and this world is no exception. As we read in A Course in Miracles, “This world is a place of madness.” (T-25.VII.3) It is a fallacious illusion of reality.
Though it seems quite real and circumstances serious, the world was made to witness a separated self. Thus lies its method. The psychopathy carries but one delusional message:
“You are here, within this body, and you can be hurt. You can have pleasure, too, but only at the cost of pain.” (T-27.VI.2)
The confident certainty to which we believe this proposition attests to the level of demented hubris. Yet we can transcend our imperiously Polonius nature and use the same madness, but for a different method. Like Hamlet, we employ insanity to uncover truth.
All our experiences lie not within a world of bodies but rather the realm of mind. Learning to return awareness to this sovereign kingdom leads to the most glorious state of peace. Where "flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”
Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll explore the deceptive nature of the world, and how we can use its maddening mechanics to escape all grief. I look forward to seeing you then.