Who Are We?---Cutting Through Disguises of Our Many Masks
Halloween Symbolizing Our Social Masquerade
We could see it as at least entertaining, if not slightly educational, that Halloween is not merely a tradition tied to the 31st of October, but also our way of life throughout the year. In our own way and extent, everybody is pretending to be something that we are not.
Our life-roles supporting our survival in society are displaying a constant shift between our acting out a spouse, a parent, a professional, a driver, a friend, a religious or political follower...and the list doesn't stop here, of course. Each of these roles requires a different mask---and a mask it is, as far as it's covering our true self.
Some time in my teenage years I read this definition of personality: "Personality is population of interactional complexes"---written by someone who couldn't just say it in a plain English, because then it would sound like an "assortment of masks for a variety of interactions". Well, I'll never understand why science is shunning simplicity so much.
Likewise, you just might find in some textbooks a fancy version of my humble contention that much of our emotional issues result from a subconscious mix-up of our masks.
Subconscious mind is an extremely dynamic place, and it's so easy to see it go confused under life pressures and start handing us out wrong masks, after they got into some kind of inner collision.
"Not knowing whether we are (emotionally) coming or going" would illustrate that state, and it certainly hurts in all varieties invented by man---whether as an anxiety, depression, phobia, or psycho-somatic, physical condition.
When it reaches some extremes, our true self can't take that masquerade anymore, so it "cracks the personality" with an emotional burnout better known as "nervous breakdown."
Even further down the drain is a schizoid behavior, with masks starting to exchange erratically, and person losing attachment to reality, one "person" not exactly knowing what the other one is doing.
I am not talking about a full blown schizophrenia, just a schizoid mix up, symptoms of which many of us may have experienced when after an emotional outburst or blurting out something we could not believe it was ourselves acting like that.
At that point you may see someone acting toward you as a friend in one moment, but in the next one getting a strong urge to hurt your feelings. Indeed, strange is this game of life-size carnival.
Lack of Consciousness
However, before we get any further into this unfortunate outcomes of our pretending, let us distinguish it from a much healthier pretense which is not only therapeutic, but is also potentially self-evolving.
Namely, there is nothing wrong about re-programming our subconscious "automatic pilot" with a consciously guided positive beneficial behaviors. For example, a loner who got to a point of a healthy realization about a need for some nurturing relationships, maybe a date or some new friends---can't go wrong by pushing herself into such forms of socializing while assuming the role that may generate some desired results.
As we all know, dates and friends won't come to us---we have to take an active role, and no matter how "phony" we may feel in our new roles, we have to play our part.
So, what makes the difference between those first masks and this new one just described?
Consciousness, my friends. For, as long as we consciously choose to develop those new social skills, our masks are only a useful tool. In that previous negative case, consciousness was polluted with masks about which we did not even know they were different from our true, conscious self.
All trouble of this world starts with a lack of consciousness, which makes some complex interactional systems being out of whack. For example, our judicial system is loaded with cases where a "big social fish" gets away with a proverbial slap on wrist with a bunch of good lawyers---for something that would cost you and me some jail time.
This double standard sneaking under the radar of our much advertised "national democratic values" clearly shows this schizoid mentality of one mask conveniently being replaced by another. And yet, with just another change of the mask we can hear again an earful about those "high values, equal civil rights", and the rest of the crap.
What makes it insane is that due to the coexistence of our own inner assembly of masks we can easily adjust to the changes of the collective masks, "buying" both, a double standard and a code of decency that opposes to it.
A Schizoid Paradigm
On a small scale, we, as individuals, may be proud of our high sense of morality---not realizing that it is only one of the many masks of those at our disposal. We may be activists and preachers of high moral standards---all until we stop acting like ones. It's almost as if that inner "mask-server picks one for us in a hurry", and before we know it, there we go making total idiots out of ourselves.
It reminds me of that cute rhyme I read somewhere long time ago:
"I thought I had a noble mind
with courtesy and tact
and no one's more surprised than I
to notice how I act."
Sounds familiar? This lack of awareness, with a pre-arranged protocol of prescribed behaviors is majorly responsible for this colossal global carnival of masks interacting amongst themselves while ignoring the humans behind them.
Like balls on the pool table moving in a predictable order after one gets hit---our masks behave in a predictable order of causality. "What's appropriate" as a response doesn't stem from a logic crowned by objective consciousness, but from a logic of the masks which we proudly call "common sense".
Over a time it spreads like a pandemic into a schizoid paradigm in which it's "perfectly normal" to brag about having saved a child from a fatal disease---but then also brag about a military success--- with so many kids killed in the process. This gets conveniently shrugged as a "collateral damage".
There is no conscious intervention against that kind of logicalness, "it's all fine, it's a part of life". We have corresponding masks to "understand" both---the altruism of saving a kid's life, and a necessity for wars which kill or traumatize kids for life.
Does that make us schizoid? No, those are our masks that are schizoid and "we", true ourselves, are merely buried under them and unknowingly oftentimes identifying with them.
In Some Moments We Get to Exist
As long as we are wearing our pathetic gallery of masks, we don't even exist---only our masks do. When we are dating, we try to impress; when we apply for a job, we try to impress; when we campaign for a leadership, we try to impress.
Then comes that second phase after we got that girl; after we got that job; and after we got to sit on the throne---and now we can replace that mask with one that's catering better to our comfort zone with all of its hidden agenda.
No, we have not unpacked to show our "true colors", it's yet another mask, whereas our true self would cherish and honor our new commitment, not try to look for ways to pamper ourselves as our next priority.
Just look at the stories of the daily news, which are, by the way, a business-oriented pretense of its own kind, as they select only those crappy events which will play on your fears, insecurities, anger, and make you crave to hear more in the next installment--- for your "heightened sense of preparedness".
All those stories are showing this sad parade of clowns whose masks got stuck to their faces like a tattoo. There is no logic of a wisdom in our global stories, only logic of the masks.
Here and there we allow our true self to peek out from underneath all that pile of masks. Maybe at a sight of a baby's innocent face; or while playing with our faithful dog; or while facing the majestic sunset over the ocean. And then, of course, while surrendering to sexual pleasures when the nakedness of the body gets matched by a nakedness of the soul..
Maybe a walk in the moonlight with that precious someone does it to us, as we manage to peel all pretenses off our face enough for an honest and spontaneous "I love you". Yes, there are those moments when we stop being our name, our social status, our possessions, our duties and ambitions---left only with our warm humanness and intuitive inner guidance.
Resurrection of Our True Self
There are even times when our chronic stress levels caused by inner conflicts between antagonistic masks would allow us to have a completely restful sleep---like the one we only have when sedated in a hospital.
Do you know that our nightly trip into oblivion doesn't really give us a complete relaxation? Just because you feel "more" refreshed in the morning than you were last night doesn't mean that you were completely unwinding in your sleep.
Indeed, that subconscious gallery of our masks keep popping up in our dreams like some phantoms, maintaining a level of stress to which we got so accustomed that we don't register it anymore as stress.
So, is there anything that we can do about that inner masquerade and the unhealthy drama it plays for us, instead of allowing us to lead our life consciously and constructively?
It's all rather simple, and as I am calling it "simple" I am aware how people will tend to reject it right at its face value, not bothering to think deeper about it. Remember the last time when doctor told you: "Just have more rest, drink a lots of fluids---you don't need any medication". Remember how disappointed you were?
Hey, why do I need doctor to tell me that---you said---he is supposed to give me some magic pill! Likewise, if this situation required an advice, and if I was the one expected to give you one, I would probably "prescribe" something simple like that "walking meditation" called "mindfulness".
It's easy and simple---you just turn your attention inwards and non-judgmentally observe whatever is going on in there. Not trying to fix it, or change it in any way. The less you intervene, the more it will change by itself.
Like Werner Erhard would have said back in seventies: "Let your mind (masks) be, and it will let you be". That detaches you-the-observer (consciousness) from your masks, and with a little practice it releases you from the grip of all those masks, while the beauty of the true-you gloriously emerges from those neglected depths.
So, what will happen to your many masks? Well, you will still be using them, with a crucial difference that they will stop using you. Sounds great, doesn't it?
In this article I tried to bring to your attention the fact that our true selves are heavily polluted by masks; and I offered a simple idea that by sole observing those masks we make them take a back seat, allowing our true selves to emerge and take charge.
I hope you have found some parts of it that inspired you for your further conscious awakening.