THE MASK AND THE TRUE FACE
The Mantra: Om Chadmamukka Nirodha
Everything that makes us feel separated from the Divine
is always a mask.
There are no exceptions.
How clearly can you see this?
a) The issue is introduced by this basic fact:
Our mask hides a confused mixture of our self-image plus
what has been called “the Inner Child”,
a desolate ghost full of uncertainty, fear and loneliness, worried
that someone might perceive behind his mask
all its misery and inner poverty
Most are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that they end up
becoming disguised to themselves as well.
Why did you ever become disguised to yourself?
How does it make you feel?
Jodi Picoult asked:
If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you,
would you forget who you really were?
What if the face you showed the world turned out to be
a mask…with nothing beneath it?
Even without the “what if”
Kierkegaard echoes this question with his own:
Don’t you know that there comes a midnight hour
when everyone has to throw off his mask?
Better late than never!
Are you prepared for such an hour?
To which extent?
Then he warned that:
He who cannot reveal himself cannot love, and he who cannot love
is the most unhappy man of all.
Can you reveal yourself and drop all your mask?
To which extent can you love?
Adyashanti adds that:
No matter what identity we cling to, it takes great courage to step out of the old masks we wear and the old scripts that we live by, and open ourselves to the mysterious inner core of our being.
When you finally get there, without being anywhere else in your head,
then you will see that everything here
is the face of God.
b) Almost everything that we usually see as “ourselves”,
see as our self-image,
is a mask because it covers our real Self with countless
superficial, ever- changing qualities
but then consciously or unconsciously they end up creating even more masks over it.
The Zen asks:
Isn’t it true that each instant is a miracle in itself?
And you, this shadow carrying a mask,
aren’t you the Buddha?
Aren’t you the Buddha?
However unlikely it may seem to you now.
What does it mean being the Buddha?
Basically it means
to be loving and enlightened, at peace with oneself and the world,
and never wearing any masks at all.
Most of us present themselves as better, happier, more intelligent,
good or interesting than they believe themselves to be in order to be appreciated, loved, considered; while a minority does the opposite and wear a mask of weakness, incapacity, “poor little me” not to have to compete, not to be attacked and to be helped.
Seeing our true face can be either a bewildering or an exhilarating
experience because at first it always looks
like a stranger’s face.
But it is a very bad sign.
we are not looking at our true face with the clear eyes
of our heart and soul but from the viewpoint
of our false “I” and ego.
c) A “persona” is like the mask
that Greek actors wore according to the roles they played and corresponds to our self-image.
Such a mask is usually mistaken for our personality or even for our individuality, but actually is no more than a role that we are playing
on the stage of the world.
As Yogananda said,
Your nature is calm. You have worn a mask of restlessness, that is, the inquietude of your conscience, that derives from the stimulation of the senses,
but you are NOT the mask, you are the pure
calm spirit within.
Erasmus of Rotterdam agrees:
All human life is but a comedy in which everyone acts with a different mask
and keeps playing his role, until the great Scriptwriter
makes him leave the stage…
Rumi adds that:
Neither infinite nor ephemeral is your face: you
can never see it, a reflection perhaps –
but never the face itself.
The answer is very obvious.
In the famous Zen ko’han “Which is your original face” the answer mentioned in many Zen books is
The one that I had before my parents were born.
before you were born in a body you wore
no masks at all.
d) In the Gospel of Mary Magdalene,
not recognized by the Catholic Church, there is this very interesting passage:
The masks playing with themselves pretend not to be thirsty
in their parched dryness: How can they live
in aridity refusing water?
In what does consist the aridity of your life, if any?
Do you sometimes refuse the inner equivalent of water?
No, the first answer that came to your mind isn’t the real one.
There is actually a way to use a mask in a positive way if done very consciously: those who have a chronic sense of insecurity, for example, could wear a mask of total self-confidence and it would help them to gradually acquire it.
they must never forget that even when positive
it still remain a mask.
And first or later must be discarded as well.
e) The problem is that by wearing a mask
at least to some extent we tend
to BECOME IT.
Which mask may you tend to become?
How does it makes you feel?
He wears a mask, and his face
grows to fit it.
When asked by an unbeliever why Muslim women must cover even their faces when outside the house, the Kabuli replied:
If I ever told you what the Khdir revealed to me about this
I would be stoned to death!
And then added:
In any case, the veil that our women wear is less of a covering
than the mask called a “face” of anyone
who isn’t a true Sufi!
In your own Path, are you the equivalent of a true Sufi?
If not, how will you become one?
The Veil consists in the identification with our masks.
Tell yourself them:
by discarding all my masks, at the same time
I will dissolve the Veil as well.
In the Dreamgame of the Mask and the True Face, the Mask is one of our worst WEAKNESSES and our true face is our best ASSET.
Gurdjeff’s advice is:
Each day you put on a mask, and you must
take it off little by little.
The Devil’s Advocate:
Whatever mask you are wearing, you are not just disguising yourself as you think but actually you become, you ARE such a mask.
Can’t you see that you keep wearing it is that it is dearer to you than your very soul?
Yes, keep wearing it, for what are you without?
Nothing at all!
Your masks cannot hide you from the Divine
but hide Him from you.
Words of Power:
May I never wear any masks ever again
not even unknowingly!
I always come to You with but
my naked face.
How do you go to Him?
“All things are but masks at God’s beck and call,
Symbols teaching us that God is all.”
Farid al-Din Attar
“Tear off the mask;glorious is your face.“
What are you waiting for?
When Vijay was still struggling to become free of his own masks, after his first breakthrough he wrote these lines about it:
the old mask of my mind was there
which like a judge with a pathetic,
moth eaten gray wig looked, or merely
the vague memory that once
there might have been such a mask….
From “The Quest”
As a child my first mask was a very painful one: the Outcast, Camus’ Stranger – I wasn’t popular at all – therefore in my early teens I changed it into the Philosopher, but it was far too boring so I soon gave it up.
The one that I liked most was the Rebel and when I finally grew out of it I wore the Flower Children one for a while, and then yet another one again…by my early twenties I had already worn out several masks…
Is perhaps the naked face that I show to the world
my very last mask?
These words of Jim Morrison deeply touched me because I realized that at times I was doing the same thing:
“You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel,
and in exchange put on a mask.”
That will not do at all!
Question/Ko’han 1 to 6:
Do you ever wear any masks at all?
Are you SURE?
If you still do, which ones?
On which basis did you choose them?
How do they make you feel?
Benjamin Smythe said that
The face you cannot love is the door
to your heart.
Rainer Maria Rilke has the last word:
There are quantities of human faces, but there are many more faces,
for each person has several.
Ever noticed that?
How many do you have?
How do they make you feel?
Please note that
Having several faces really means
having several MASKS.
1) Meditate on this passage from the Gospel of Myriam
It happened that the Master gave me these words:
The need is purity and discipline. It passes through the worlds with the being who seeks the Heart hidden in the heart, because it is also the will.
The weak masks cannot even catch a glimpse
of the Gate of the Nous.
They do not appeal to the need but look at the other masks calling them weak, the masks that simulate playing in their thirst while their land is arid.
How to live in the aridity and rejection of water?
This is how you are born to death, because
of the weakness of the will.
How strong is your will?
If it is weak, what will you DO about it?
2) Follow Sri Aurobindo’s advice:
See God everywhere and don’t be frightened
by the masks.
Know that all deceit is a truth under formation or a truth being demolished, every failure is a hidden victory, every weakness a hidden strength, every pain a secret and violent ecstasy. If you will firmly and tirelessly believe it in the end
you will see the Almighty the All-Truth and the All-Joy,
and will have the experience of Him.
– These verses of Billy Joel:
Well we all have a face
that we hide away forever
and we take them out and show ourselves
when everyone has gone.
Some are satin some are steel
some are silk and some are leather
They’re the faces of a stranger
but we love to try them on.
Do you still love to try on any of them?
Don’t be deceived.
So many manifold masks I once wore
although I didn’t quite believe in them
nor were they a whole lot of fun, all told –
but itself each of my masks hid!