To know the true importance of food
one must experience going without eating.
To know true thoughts and feelings
one must experience going without thoughts and feelings.
The ability to quiet the mind is essential to the artist.
Random thoughts and feelings propelled by habit interferes with all creativity.
Stop all thoughts and feelings.
Underneath this superficial layer of the mind
are the actor's genuine thoughts and feelings.
This is a subtle understanding and can be achieved
only by practice and experience.
Habitual thoughts and feelings are merely repetitions of the past.
The actor cannot be ruled by the past, but must make use of it at one's discretion.
This can only be done by quieting the mind,
giving the actor the power to pick and choose
what to make use of in the reservoir of one's being.
This does not mean the elimination of all past experiences,
but rather, the conscious choice as to what is to be used or not.
If an actor only listens to habitual thoughts and feelings,
one has narrowed the perspective of possibilities drastically.
The human mind is like an immense computer eight stories high
which stretches from San Francisco to Reno to Las Vegas to Los Angeles and back again.
It is vast.
Habitual thoughts and feelings leaves the actor in Fresno,
and with nothing else but Fresno as a perspective of possibilities.
What about Yosemite, Chinatown, the Sierras, San Simeon, the Pacific coast and ocean?
Fresno does exist and does not necessarily have to be excluded,
but it is a miniscule part of your experience.
Art is the process of expansion of the actor's mind, not the narrowing.
This, unlike fame and fortune, is always the artist's reward.
The wide experience of one's mind broadening, deepening,
reaching out into realms never before dreamt conceivable
will have the ripple effect of elevating
not only the individual actor's artistry, but also of one's fellow actors.
To quiet the mind does not mean an actor forever withdraws within.
This is merely a stage, a part of the process,
whereby an actor can more fully realize art.
To quiet the mind can in the long run make the actor
infinitely more spontaneous and alive.
Initially, it is true, the actor may feel more self-conscious,
but this "self-consciousness" is both a beneficial
and instrumental phase in an actor's growth.
An actor must make conscious attempts
to have some say in what does or does not take place within.
An actor must eradicate all that is false within.
To shut down habitual thoughts and feelings does not deny the past,
it will always be with you, and will always be an integral aspect of your work.
However, the actor will not only be able to consciously choose
what to make use of, but will also enlarge their
possibilities of choice a thousand fold.
When the mind is quiet it is much easier to listen,
both to oneself, and to the outside world.
Instead of blindly following whatever comes up in the mind,
the actor can listen nonjudgmentally, and in turn,
respond with both a sense of play and an awareness of what is necessary.
Deep impulses may be felt,
impulses you previously might never have acknowledged
could possibly take place within yourself.
A gesture, a tone of voice, a slight difference in posture,
a look, a thought, yes, a feeling;
all of these may occur when listening with a quiet mind.
Many times, just one such slight event may trigger off an
entire realization of the character you are playing.
Stanislavski calls this ability "charm", others call it inspiration,
others intuition; whatever, it is the single most important ability an artist can have.
This ability is what makes an actor an artist.
The conscious listening and playing with the mind.
This is the act of art.