Truth allows you to live with integrity. Everything you do and say shows the world who you really are. Let it be the Truth. ~Oprah Winfrey
The Truth needs no rehearsal. ~ Barbara Kingsolver
It can be easy at times to think of ourselves as two entirely different individuals – our old and our new self. This becomes easier to do, the more we journey along our spiritual path. This “new” self feels to us to be much more enlightened, and in many cases it is, however, sometimes even the spiritually evolved version of ourselves can still be wearing a mask that it hides behind – a spiritual disguise.
Energetic themes seem to flow in cycles and the last couple of weeks have made poignant a recurring one that feels of importance to share on. I have been picking up on the themes of integrity, authenticity, truth, and how that interrelates with the purity, innocence, and playfulness of our inner child – all leading back to that “return to natural harmony within and without” and “walking the walk.”
These aren’t just themes of importance for people who are just beginning to become more aware and conscious of things, or even for people who are operating with a majority of unconsciousness, but also for all of us who are already on a path of conscious evolution for quite some time. This feels to be coming through in order to support us in how we can take things to another experience of depth that will have profound effects.
What comes hand-in-hand with this theme is not just about speaking truth to others, but in being completely honest with ourselves – and this can be done with humor and gentleness, so as to make the process one of fun rather than punishment.
I juggled with how I wanted to share on these topics, finding there was a lot wanting to come through about them, but in the end had been guided, rather, to share a couple of specific, brief writings from others I was led to that I felt would provide not only insightful perspective, but in one case, some humor – something I feel to be of extra importance these days in approaching ourselves and our experiences.
The topics within these themes that I keep feeling strongly abound are:
- Using spirituality to avoid things like our shadow aspects, fears, and pains – something author and psychotherapist Robert Augustus Masters calls “spiritual bypassing”
- How we lose ourselves behind “spiritual fluff” or are over-dosing on positivity without integrative grounding, as a means of avoiding and repressing our inner truth and, ultimately, our inclusive Divinity being revealed
- How we convince ourselves we are beyond something and yet perhaps all we have done was run the other way or are just regurgitating what we “think” we should say or do spiritually, but without having fulling embodied the essence of what that truly means
I really resonate with what Masters shares in this particular excerpt from his book, Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters:
“True spirituality is not a high, not a rush, not an altered state. It has been fine to romance it for a while, but our times call for something far more real, grounded, and responsible; something radically alive and naturally integral; something that shakes us to our very core until we stop treating spiritual deepening as something to dabble in here and there. Authentic spirituality is not some little flicker or buzz of knowingness, not a psychedelic blast-through or a mellow hanging-out on some exalted plane of consciousness, not a bubble of immunity, but a vast fire of liberation, an exquisitely fitting crucible and sanctuary, providing both heat and light for the healing and awakening we need. Most of the time when we’re immersed in spiritual bypassing, we like the light but not the heat. And when we’re caught up in the grosser forms of spiritual bypassing, we’d usually much rather theorize about the frontiers of consciousness than actually go there, suppressing the fire rather than breathing it even more alive, espousing the ideal of unconditional love but not permitting love to show up in its more challenging, personal dimensions. To do so would be too hot, too scary, and too out-of-control, bringing things to the surface that we have long disowned or suppressed. But if we really want the light, we cannot afford to flee the heat. As Victor Frankl said, “What gives light must endure burning.” And being with the fire’s heat doesn’t just mean sitting with the difficult stuff in meditation, but also going into it, trekking to its core, facing and entering and getting intimate with whatever is there, however scary or traumatic or sad or raw.”
I then came across a post by the light-hearted and humanistic Aalif Surti who shares, as he puts it, “a colorful mandala of spirituality, creativity and humor” through his blog. In his post, The Buddha Mask (And Other Spiritual Facades), he explores masks we wear as protection, elimination, and escapism, but as he says, “And while masks appear to prevent Life from hurting us, sadly they also prevent us from truly experiencing Life – except through narrow eyeholes.”
I hope you enjoy his humorous take on how even therapists, healers, and seekers put on a spiritual display and a way we can playfully take our power back in the realization of this.
Here is Aalif Surti’s post, which you can see also at the link above:
As seekers, we may believe we have become aware now and dropped our false personas, but sometimes we have only traded it in for a new mask – a spiritual persona. In a hilarious group session a few months ago, my mentor GD helped us dissect and laugh at the masks we may wear as seekers, healers and therapists. Here’s my light-hearted summation of the key spiritual ‘displays’:
The Buddha Mask: You’ve seen the statue, now meet the person. Unaffected by others, far removed from worldly emotions, this mask says: You can’t touch me… I am beyond it all. Behind it hides sensitivity, fear and confusion. During my early Vipassana days, some people called me ‘aloof’ instead of ‘aalif’!
The Positivity Mask: Those who practice affirmations and positive thinking sometimes feel compelled to uphold an abnormally high frequency of ecstasy. Ask them how they are, and an automated voice reply comes: “AMAZING! Life is full of miracles!!” But when it is a mask, their eyes, their energy, and their aura tell a different story.
The ‘Superior-Seeker’ Mask: They enter a room, and the whole room suddenly feels unworthy. They carry a subtle air of superiority. They are on the high road to heaven and they smile beatifically upon all the creepy crawlies with an air of cultivated compassion. Proving superiority all the time is a dead giveaway for a sense of inferiority inside.
The Messiah Mask: They are out to change the world – one flailing, resisting human at a time. These are the givers of support and nurturance and advice… whether anyone asks for it or not! But give they must, because they need to avoid the confusion and emptiness within. A beautiful, socially approved mask and hence more difficult to let go of…
The Pundit Mask: References obscure texts and uses big Sanskrit words. Will disrupt a conversation to quote a 16th century Indian mystic or a little-known modern non-dual teacher. It’s a mask when they talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.
The Lost-in-Space Mask: They find a way to bring Pleiadians, Archangels and Entities into every normal conversation. They would interrupt you to whisper conspiratorially that there’s a 6th dimensional entity behind you right now! They take name-dropping to a whole new dimension.
While the masks may be twisted and rigid, the people underneath these masks are not foolish or nasty. They are you and me, GD said, innocently trying to cover up a wound of not-being-enough by putting on a show. Masks are a way of saying ‘I am special’ but ironically, each mask ends up proving the opposite: each mask reveals a lack of self-love and self-acceptance-as-I-am.
All of us play a variety of roles in life. When we are conscious of the role playing, there is no problem. Masks are problematic because they are compulsive and unconscious, and the behavior comes from ego not insight.
And whenever the ego creates a mask, it has to suppress the opposite in oneself – a compulsive giver finds it hard to ask for help; the intellectual ceases to listen and ask questions; Buddha-face cannot show vulnerability or intimacy when needed.
When someone asked GD at the end of the workshop how she could prevent the mask from coming back on later, GD replied, “Make a joke of it, phone us all up and say: ‘Hey look, my mask is back!’ The moment you become aware, it loses its power. And once you make it a joke, it disappears.”
And in the absence of masks, he reminded us, we can become like the beautiful little children we all are inside – who can be all of the above when required – and their exact opposite when required – without holding onto any particular face.