THE MASKS WE WEAR
Judith Sherven, PhD and James Sniechowski, PhD
Halloween is the official holiday of disguise. A time to act out your fantasy-self, your wildest
dream-self. A time to wear masks and costumes.
But what about the other 364 days of the year? Have you ever put on an act then? You know, trying to appear a particular way, hoping people will believe something special about you, something that isn't real but you want it to be. Or perhaps there's something about you that you're not comfortable with and rather than be exposed you cover it over by putting on a "good face."
The answer for every one of us is yes. Whether we like to admit it or not, from time to time or even much of the time, each of us wears a mask of one kind or another. Sometimes it's a smile when we'd rather not. Sometimes we want to seem knowledgeable when we don't have a clue. Or we want to look strong when in fact we're terrified.
Masks are part of daily life. And in some instances, like playing poker and haggling over the price of something you really want, they are indispensable.
But in your intimate relationships there's a catch. Whenever you choose to screen the truth of who you are behind a mask, you make the judgment that who you are is inadequate, incompetent, inferior, deficient or defective in some way. You actually insist on rejecting yourself, treating yourself as unwanted.
Whenever you express yourself and are met with rejection, ridicule, or any response that devalues who you are, you stand at a crossroads and you have to make a choice. You can either decide that the response is inaccurate and meaningless.
Or you can take the rejection to heart. When you choose the latter, you vote against yourself, agreeing that there is something wrong with you.
In order to protect yourself you decide to change, not by developing better self-awareness or learning to consider the source of such negativity, but by creating a false front, one that you believe will be unconditionally acceptable to others.
Once you decide to relate to the world from behind a mask, you cast your vote with those who have voted against you. You vote against yourself and decide to stay in allegiance with those who do not want you. You twist and turn, making yourself into whatever you believe will gain their favor, so that who you are is thereafter determined by someone else's values, someone else's beliefs and feelings. You become what you imagine someone else thinks you should be and you end up without a self of your own.
And then you wonder why you are so afraid of being found out, why, when people tell you that they like you or love you, you can never believe them.
Living authentically -- living true to yourself -- requires a serious choice to hold your value on your own terms. And it requires conscious intention and practice to move out from behind your masks.
But only then will love be a believable gift.
Only then can you trust that you are loved for who you really are.
Use the following points to remember the enormous value you bring to your relationships and to your own life -- when you are true to yourself> Then make a commitment to cast off your masks.
1. Masks cover your fear of feeling unacceptable. By dropping your masks, you claim the right to a full emotional range and grow your self-respect.
2. Your masks block any personally meaningful connection. By dropping your masks, you reveal yourself in a manner that creates the way for genuinely intimate relationships.
3. With your masks in place, you remain stuck; Locked up inside. By dropping your masks, you can tap a wide array of previously prohibited imagination and creativity.
4. With masks on, you always feel emotionally hungry and can never be satisfied. By dropping your masks, your basic human need to be recognized, valued, and wanted can be fulfilled.
5. Your masks keep you dedicated to your past, to the original environment that did not welcome you as you. And your masks continually perpetuate the pain you're trying to escape. By dropping your masks, you make the courageous move to leave the past behind, become your own person, and open to a new future.
6. Most important, masks force you into believing the delusion that who you are lacks value. Then you live in the fantasy that others are superior to you. And the real you moves far beyond your reach. By dropping your masks, you set yourself free of self-rejection -- the only real rejection there is -- and make way for living a real and satisfying life.
Having just read this, take a moment and look inside. Are you willing to drop your masks, even just a little at first, and invite people to really know you?
Are you willing to find out how people would actually respond to you? Will you agree that their acceptance would then be more meaningful than any so-called liking they may express for your performance?
And if they don't like you for who you really are, why would you want to be with them?
Life is to be lived. And lived as fully as possible. Real love and real romance require that we come out of hiding.
So take off your masks and come to life -- for the rest of your life.
What is objective art?
Is creativity somehow related with meditation?
Art can be divided into two parts. Ninety-nine percent of art is subjective art. Only one percent is objective art. The ninety-nine percent subjective art has no relationship with meditation. Only one percent objective art is based on meditation.
The subjective art means you are pouring your subjectivity onto the canvas, your dreams, your imaginations, your fantasies. It is a projection of your psychology. The same happens in poetry, in music, in all dimensions of creativity - you are not concerned with the person who is going to see your painting, not concerned what will happen to him when he looks at it; that is not your concern at all. Your art is simply a kind of vomiting. It will help you, just the way vomiting helps. It takes the nausea away, it makes you cleaner, makes you feel healthier. But you have not considered what is going to happen to the person who is going to see your vomit. He will become nauseous. He may start feeling sick.
Look at the paintings of Picasso. He is a great painter, but just a subjective artist. Looking at his paintings, you will start feeling sick, dizzy, something going berserk in your mind. You cannot go on looking at Picasso's painting for long. You would like to get away, because the painting has not come from a silent being. It has come from a chaos. It is a byproduct of a nightmare. But ninety-nine percent of art belongs to that category.
Objective art is just the opposite. The man has nothing to throw out, he is utterly empty, absolutely clean. Out of this silence, out of this emptiness arises love, compassion. And out of this silence arises a possibility for creativity. This silence, this love, this compassion - these are the qualities of meditation.
Meditation brings you to your very center. And your center is not only your center, it is the center of the whole existence. Only on the periphery we are different. As we start moving toward the center, we are one. We are part of eternity, a tremendously luminous experience of ecstasy that is beyond words. Something that you can be... but very difficult to express it. But a great desire arises in you to share it, because all other people around you are groping for exactly such experiences. And you have it, you know the path.
And these people are searching everywhere except within themselves - where it is! You would like to shout in their ears. You would like to shake them and tell them, "Open your eyes! Where are you going? Wherever you go, you go away from yourself. Come back home, and come as deep into yourself as possible."
This desire to share becomes creativity. Somebody can dance. There have been mystics - for example, Jalaluddin Rumi - whose teaching was not in words, whose teaching was in dance. He will dance. His disciples will be sitting by his side, and he will tell them, "Anybody who feels like joining me can join. It is a question of feeling. If you don't feel like, it is up to you. You can simply sit and watch."
But when you see a man like Jalaluddin Rumi dancing, something dormant in you becomes active. In spite of yourself you find you have joined the dance. You are already dancing before you become aware that you have joined it.
Even this experience is of tremendous value, that you have been pulled like a magnetic force. It has not been your mind decision, you have not weighed for pro and for against, to join or not to join, no. Just the beauty of Rumi's dance, his spreading energy, has taken possession of you. You are being touched. This dance is objective art.
And if you can continue - and slowly you will become more and more unembarrassed, more and more capable - soon you will forget the whole world. A moment comes, the dancer disappears and only the dance remains.
There are in India statues, which you have just to sit silently and meditate upon. Just look at those statues. They have been made by meditators in such a way, in such a proportion, that just looking at the statue, the figure, the proportion, the beauty... Everything is very calculated to create a similar kind of state within you. And just sitting silently with a statue of Buddha or Mahavira, you will come across a strange feeling, which you cannot find in sitting by the side of any Western sculpture.
All Western sculpture is sexual. You see the Roman sculpture: beautiful, but something creates sexuality in you. It hits your sexual center. It does not give you an uplift. In the East the situation is totally different. Statutes are carved, but before a sculptor starts carving statues he learns meditation. Before he starts playing on the flute he learns meditation. Before he starts writing poetry he learns meditation. Meditation is absolute necessity for any art; then the art will be objective.
Then, just reading few lines of a haiku, a Japanese form of a small poem - only three lines, perhaps three words - if you silently read it, you will be surprised. It is far more explosive that any dynamite. It simply opens up doors in your being.
Basho's small haiku I have beside the pond near my house. I love it so much, I wanted it to be there. So every time, coming and going.... Basho is one of the persons I have loved. Nothing much in it: An ancient pond.... It is not an ordinary poetry. It is very pictorial. Just visualize: An ancient pond. A frog jumps in.... You almost see the ancient pond! You almost hear the frog, the sound of its jump: Plop.
And then everything is silent. The ancient pond is there, the frog has jumped in, the sound of his jumping in has created more silence than before. Just reading it is not like any other poetry that you go on reading - one poem, another poem... No, you just read it and sit silently. Visualize it. Close your eyes. See the ancient pond. See the frog. See it jumping in. See the ripples on the water. Hear the sound. And hear the silence that follows.
This is objective art.
Basho must have written it in a very meditative mood, sitting by the side of an ancient pond, watching a frog. And the frog jumps in. And suddenly Basho becomes aware of the miracle that sound is deepening the silence. The silence is more than it was before. This is objective art.
Unless you are a creator, you will never find real blissfulness. It is only by creating that you become part of the great creativity of the universe. But to be a creator, meditation is a basic necessity. Without it you can paint, but that painting has to be burned, it has not to be shown to others. It was good, it helped you unburden, but please, don't burden anybody else. Don't present it to your friends, they are not your enemies.
Objective art is meditative art, subjective art is mind art.
- from The Last Testament, Volume 3, #24 http://www.osho.com