When our attention is drawn to how much we don’t want to be what we are in any given moment, we can’t see ourselves as we actually are! This means that all forms of resistance-born reactions are blinding agents; they mask the fact of the moment with powerful, unwanted sensations that steal our attention so that instead of being self-aware—conscious of the whole of us—we are aware only of the painful reaction and what it points to as being the cause of our suffering.
Despising ourselves for missing the mark doesn’t prove we could have hit the mark and didn’t. It proves only that the unconscious nature involved in this kind of pain doesn’t know what the true mark is or else it wouldn’t be tearing into itself. This deception is as deep as it is cunning and dark: hating ourselves for our weakness is the way secret weakness passes itself off as strength.
Real spiritual strength is realized, slowly, by daring to detect and drop these blind negative states that we’ve been allowing to define us. And, believe it or not, this choice to no longer agree to ache over what you are not is the most difficult part of one’s work to be free. After all, when there is no one and nothing left within oneself to blame for one’s weakness, it’s also pretty clear that turning to one’s “self” for help is like asking a donkey for the directions to heaven.
The time will come, if we persist, when we will no longer fear seeing our weakness but rather realize its presence as a shadow that only appears as it does because of a living light that serves to reveal it. And the greater this understanding grows, the greater the strength of this light becomes our own.
The real reason that we believe in any public performance—be it that of some well-known star or our own friends and loved ones—is that we are all, to one extent or another, actors on a stage.
It’s not too far from the mark to say that many of us have come to believe that being a good performer in life is somehow the same as fulfilling the purpose of life. Here’s the strange logic behind the self-created misery that follows it:
For each successful “performance” we pull off around others or within ourselves, it feels as if we’ve won, for the moment, what we’ve imagined will make us whole and happy—but the drawback here should be self-evident. Not only is it wearisome to walk around having to juggle the masks one needs to wear, but no one knows better than the actor that he or she is not the same as the character being played.
Conflict mounts between the role we are playing and what is real within us until the inevitable collapse onstage. In fact, there’s really only one reason we ever “let loose” and outwardly express any negative emotion: it’s because we can no longer maintain our role of being cool, calm, and in control. In other words, the mask has come off!
In today’s world it is commonly accepted that social masks serve the purpose of the one who wears them. But this is not true, as evidenced by the pain in the lives of those who believe that putting on a loving or fearless face is the same as having realized those same qualities. The true purpose of any mask, whether that of others or our own, is to cover up the pain that hides behind it.
The first step in uncovering any lost treasure, whether that of sunken gold or to realize one’s true purpose in life, is to remove the overburden, the accumulated debris that conceals it. Which brings us to this one last thought for those who hope to see the face of the immortal Self: it is spiritually impossible to hide and see at the same time.
Our need to change—to be made new—is constant; however, so is our resistance to change. The former is inseparable from the freedom it heralds, while the latter ensures the continuation of patterns that imprison the soul. Choose the latter and living becomes dying, but choose the former and see how dying leads to life.
The great journey leading to the immortal Self does not begin with fact but in faith untested. It is the journey of faith alone that reveals the fact of the Divine, much as a flower proves the unseen seed from which it springs into the light . . .