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The Mask

REMOVE YOUR MASK

Behind every personality, behind every mask, is a character that is your God-given uniqueness, says Barry Long Along, long time ago, when human beings were not so fixed in their physical bodies as they are today, there lived a man who made for himself a marvellous mask that could pull many faces. The man used to put on the mask and entertain himself by accosting people and watching their reactions. Sometimes the mask would be laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes grimacing and scowling. His victims were always shocked at the sight of such an extraordinary, unnatural, unfamiliar face — even when it was smiling. Whether they laughed or cried made no difference to him. All he wanted was the excitement of their reactions. He knew he was himself behind the mask. He knew he was the joker and that the joke was on them. At first, he’d pop out with the mask on a couple of times a day. Then, as he got used to the excitement and wanted more, he began wearing the mask the whole day. Finally, he saw no need to take it off at all and slept in it. For years, the man wandered through the land enjoying himself behind the mask. Then one day he awoke, feeling a feeling he’d never felt before — he felt lonely, cut-off, something missing. Jumping up in alarm he stepped out in front of a beautiful woman and immediately, he fell in love with her. But the woman screamed and ran away, shocked by the frightening, unfamiliar face. “Stop,” he cried, “It’s not me!” wrenching at the mask to tear it off. But it was him. The mask wouldn’t come off. It was stuck to his flesh. It had become his face. The man, through his fabulous mask, was the first person to enter this unhappy world. Time went by. No matter how hard he tried to tell everyone what a disaster he’d brought on himself, no one would believe him. No one was interested in listening anyway, because they’d all copied him. They’d all put on masks of their own — to get the new excitement of playing at being what they were not. Like him, they’d all become the mask. How the man eventually put a stop to the masquerade and returned to his joyous being, is the finale of the story. However, only when you, the readers, are free of unhappiness will the story truly come to an end. For you are the one in the mask. It’s your personality. Look in the bathroom mirror — that’s it. Watch the face you pull. Sometimes approving; often disapproving. You can’t really believe it’s you. So you look in every passing mirror, even shop windows, to reassure yourself and confirm it’s you. Sometimes, you even get the weird feeling of wanting to strip off the mask. This is not uncommon. It’s just that people don’t like to talk about it. The biggest load you’re carrying is your personality. You blame so many things for the feeling of heaviness — your work, your relationships, your problems. And yet, it’s your personality that has cut you off from your natural joy. The personality makes you emotional. It confuses your mind, lives off every kind of stimulus, good and bad. Do you recognise any of these symptoms in yourself? Then you’re ready to begin dismantling the personality. You have made the personality your protector. You have handed over much of your authority. So the personality jumps to your defence immediately when you feel hurt. Sometimes you wince at its violence and insensitivity. But then it’s your defender. So you meekly go along with its behaviour, and make excuses. The wily protector, given absolute power, becomes the absolute dictator. And you despair of ever being free. The truth is, you don’t need this protection. The personality does have its place and role. It makes a rotten master, but is a good servant. The servant must no longer be allowed to run your life. Behind every personality, behind every mask, is a character. Character is your God-given uniqueness. Character is what you have to return to more consciously in yourself — the character of your joyous being behind the personality. Everybody without exception has character. The personality so often obscures and deprives you of the pleasure of your character, but this lovable or admirable character appears when the personality is no longer active, when the frontal awareness is connected directly with the flame of innocence. The man is then seen in a different light; the unique character shines forth, and we feel pleased or privileged to be in their company.
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