THE MASK AND THE TRUE FACE

THE MASK AND THE TRUE FACE

 

Stone: Alexandrite

The Mantra: Om Chadmamukka Nirodha

 

The Key:

 

Everything that makes us feel separated from the Divine

is always a mask.

 

There are no exceptions.

How clearly can you see this?

Look deeper.

 

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?

You are.

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.

Why?

Because then

 

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.

Why not?

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.

 

Why?

Because

 

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?

Why?

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.

However,

 

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?

Orwell agrees:

 

He wears a mask, and his face

grows to fit it.

The Kabuli:

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!

 

Why?

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:

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.

 

The Dreamgame:

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!

Zilch!

 

The Khdir:

 

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.“
Rumi

 

What are you waiting for?

 

Living it:

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?

Why?

On which basis did you choose them?

How do they make you feel?

Question/Ko’han 7:

Benjamin Smythe said that

 

The face you cannot love is the door

to your heart.

 

How so?

 

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.

 

Practice:

 

1) Meditate on this passage from the Gospel of Myriam

(Mary Magdalene)

 

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.

Contemplate:

 

– 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.

 

Haiku:

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Leave a Reply