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Posts Tagged ‘ego’

Spark

Spark

What on earth keeps us going? What is it that gets us to the end of this, our roller-coaster ride that we call life. Of course ego claims the rights to our existence. We live in a dangerous world and ego has carried us over the line, like some Saving Private Ryan Marine type figure, exhausted but mission accomplished. I’m afraid that I can’t agree and here’s why.

Suffering is only in the eye of the beholder, and that eye is our fragmented psyche-soul, the one known as ego. The psyche is here to help us ‘experience’ what appears to be reality, this space-time simulation of existence. It’s the software that helps us feel every up and down on the wave of life. Its settings are either winning or losing, exhilaration or pain. All relational battles that cause us dismay are felt here. All circumstances are interpreted by psyche as a high or a low.

And so we travel along the illusion of time, picking up little victories here and there, along with the painful defeats that edge us ever closer to rock bottom. Now, the power of positive thinking or its New Age equivalent will get us so far. Shiny faced successful gurus point us in the direction of their secret, one usually packaged for the self-help marketplace. Now of course things seem to go better when we’re positive, the power of attraction and all that. Yet, a downer usually lurks around the bend, as we sail along reckoning we’ve got this life thing cracked. The downer in question may be a result of our presumption, but often it’s sent along for our own good. For there’s nothing worse than an ego in full flight, gliding on the winds of its own achievement. No, the downers are needed for us to reach our ultimate but unknown destination.

Now some of us feed ego with all the ammunition that it craves. Paranoia, sees defeats lying along both past and future timelines of our lives. If the sun shines it’s too hot. If everything is freezing over, it’s hell in reverse. The little interpreter within our heads is skewed, leading us into the wilderness of depression and despair. Ego, loves it, feeding our darkness to justify its role as saviour.

Religious belief, particularly the Charismatic/Pentecostal brand that predominates much of Western Christianity, gives us a measure of relief, albeit temporarily. For to be involved, is often not to think, and that definitely nullifies the contradictory ups and downs for a while. Cleverly interpreting the highs as God’s blessing and the lows as Satanic attack, we ride the Christian life, quoting the relevant Bible verses until the big one blocks our path. The Transpersonal Crisis shakes up everything, dislodging our stoical belief in the protection of God, the One who looks out for us. No wonder, such a crisis leaves us disillusioned and broken, for we later discover that ego was the sponsor of our religious ride, an ardent ‘Amener’ who backed our every move.

So then what are we to do. Well, I reckon that we need to turn our attention away from the psyche-soul, our sensor of life, and turn to another hidden participator in the human experience, the real power behind our being, viz. our spirit. Now before you think I’m getting a wee bit too esoteric, please let me explain. When I make something, I leave something of myself in the work concerned. Hopefully in my own writings, there is something of me transmitting itself to you, an inexplicable touch that is received within. Similarly I believe that Source has deposited something of its own Being within us, a spark from the Divine Fire of Creativity. An altogether other that lies deep within our consciousness, waiting for our day of awakening. A pin-hole of Cosmic Consciousness that lets in the Light, that we call God.

Such a spirit is altogether different form our wounded psyche-soul, not having a trace of defensiveness in its essence, for it has been birthed in the Divine. When all around is a high or low, spirit sits quietly, confident in its own Being, waiting for its time of appearing, waiting for ego to burn itself out in the pursuit of happiness and security. And burn itself out it most surely will. So, let’s step back from the spin of ego, smiling as it attempts to recruit us in its dervish dance of salvation. No, rather embrace the Queendom within, the portal of Divine Love, where all is well and shall be well.

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Awareness Lane

Awareness Lane

‘Two roads diverge in the middle of my life,

I heard a wise man say’

Larry Norman ~ singer-songwriter

I think we’d all agree that life is a journey of sorts. A space-time walk through a kaleidoscope of images and experiences. For some it’s a simple passage, for others the most complex of trips, full of twists, turns and unexpected reversals. It’s amazing that so many of us make it through to old age, even those 60s rock stars who refuse to accept that the glory days are now but fading memories.

One thing regularly appears along our space-time Path, viz. Will Junction. I’d better explain! Life conspires to bring us to a fork in the road, one where we’re presented with two choices, the way of Ego & the Way of Love. Just when we’re sailing along on a seemingly steady course, up ahead lies the dreaded divergence that none of us like to face. One road is wide, a busy, noisy highway if you like, the other a narrow, silent, country lane.

Those of us who wish to get ahead in life, believing the promises and fears of ego, appear to be automatically wired to head down the highway, joining the crowd, those seeking the security of a cultural nirvana. Safety in numbers seems to be the way to go, as we eagerly rush towards our material and status destiny. As long as we keep our inner rev counter at full throttle, we can navigate any obstacles that come our way and make it. So the narrative goes, that regularly broadcasts itself at every junction choice. This is Ego road, the one that ultimately leads to our physical, mental and spiritual burnout. A road of promise, but a road of destruction.

Thankfully, we’re regularly presented with two roads throughout our earthly sojourn. We are not locked into the GPS directives of ego. For, another Path, runs parallel to desire highway, a lane most natural, at one with All. Here, we leave behind the craving to have, swapping it instead for the contentment of being. Letting go of our adrenalin-fuelled drive for status, we discover a sense of quiet ease, as Life takes us where it wills. And beside us on the Journey, walks Another, a reassuring Presence, that ultimately All is well, and shall be well. Here, we catch sight of, perhaps for the first time, a Natural order and balance in our space-time dream. Life and death, joy and sadness, appear to dance together, to carrying us further into that quiet acceptance of Mystery. On this Lane of Awareness we say little but observe a lot, for in our focus lies a revelation of sorts, a knowing that we are already Home.

So how do we tackle these circumstantial junctions of choice, those planted there by Divine Source. Well, simply through the exercise of the most potent of our gifts, viz. will.

Will, is an internal switch that seems to set our psyche-soul direction. It can be a frenzied fan of the Highway, or the calm sponsor of Awareness Lane. If activated by our spirit core, it flows effortlessly in its default choice, leading us into the Path of Peace. Will is our helpmate, once freed from the fear-driven shackles of ego. A most powerful aid in life’s journey, as it paradoxically submits to Divine Desire, that Cosmic Energy that carries us back into the Bosom of Ultimate Source.

So, safe journeying, my fellow travellers. May all roads lead us to Being. May the Lane of freedom, teach us the shocking heights, depths and width of Divine Love.

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I'm A Holy Roller ~ Get Me Outta Here

I’m A Holy Roller ~ Get Me Outta Here

We glibly follow the Nazarene in many guises. One of our favourite ones is the serious disciple, the  believer whose big aim in life is to make Jesus, Lord. We play numerous church and individual basedl games in our zealous attempt at convincing ourselves that we’ve finally handed over the control of our lives to the mysterious Galilean. Now, as a recovering Holy Roller myself, one who played loads of complex Spirit games in my youth, I want to examine why so many Charismatic/Pentecostal folk eventually leave their initial, revivalist brand of choice.

May I be blunt? We can play an extremely plausible role within Spirit-focused faith, or indeed, within the many modern New Age alternatives and still not have yielded to Divine Love. I’d better explain. Ego, our wounded, and often frenetic, psyche-soul, adores religious or spiritual disguises. It’s a past master at the whole Angel of Light thing. Since time began, long ago in the mythic Garden, ego has wrapped itself in its psycho-spiritual skins to hide from the Innocent intimacy of Source, fearing that it has been spurned by Love and placed under a divine fatwa.

The Evangelicals among us were told that ‘the Satan’ used to lead the Heavenly choirs in their harmonic songs of adoration. In other words, a religious worship leader, or alternatively, a pseudo-spiritual vibrational expert. Maybe there’s some elements of truth in there, for ego, the faithful foot soldier of the aforementioned adversarial system, can certainly put on a good show. Ego loves religious devotion with all its directed hoop-jumping. It will commit itself to great depths of suffering and pain, all in the name of God. It will ‘serve’ and ‘love’ till it’s blue in the face and about to expire. Add a controlling pastoral or authoritative voice to the mix and ego will splash its cash to get some of what it appears to have.

Paradoxically, it’s all about trying to impress the Divine while being terrified of its pronouncements. Many of us, whether religious or spiritual, have played this game in our time, on the ever-spinning hamster-wheel of devotion. And yet, we all eventually fall off. Well, to be more accurate, we’re simply pushed off by the intervention of Spirit, in the form of Life. So let’s be clear; ego has vast resources of psychological strength, yet even these remain limited. At some stage in our sojourn Divine Love comes calling, loudly proclaiming, ‘Enough is enough. Time for aReality check!’

Now, it’s at this critical stage in our journey when we Holy Rollers, start rebuking everything in sight, in one last desperate attempt to remain in our religious delusion. ‘God would never let this happen to me – I’m a Holy Roller – get me outta here,’ we scream in frustrated sincerity!

And yet, in reality, this is the day of our salvation. Not the religious joining of a faith system through confessional game play, but rather, a felt and all too painful salvation. For Divine Love has decided to take us through cold turkey, weaning us off our devotional drug in a way that only Transcendence can manage. When Love strikes it heads straight for the dependency jugular. Yes, you’ve guessed it, ego. It only asks one thing – a surrender of control, an end to our illusory state of independence and strength. Of course, like some great lion with a thorn in its paw, ego doesn’t lie down lightly. Thankfully though, Source knows us better than we know ourselves, and the final act of compassion comes swiftly and decisively. We, or more accurately ego, is floored for good. Time for some thorn removal therapy methinks!

I look fondly back to my somewhat heady days as a Holy Roller. Divine Love was extremely gracious to me in many, many ways, and yet, all along It was planning to snatch me from the jaws of ego in the blink of an eye. ‘Do you miss it all’, I’m often asked. Well, to be honest no. Better to have ego, healed and reintegrated, rather than running around in its blind religious fervour.

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Dead Folk Walking

Dead Folk Walking

 

St. Paul or Saul of Tarsus to his Jewish friends, was, I reckon, a bit of a psychologist. Also a mystic, the guy would have a weird time trying to adapt to modern takes on religious thought and practice if he were around today. During the past week I had someone on facebook suggest that I get back into ‘accountable relationships’ within the Christian fold and let folk ‘speak into’ my life. Perhaps well-meaning, perhaps a reflex reaction to my unusual take on spirituality. Anyway, it didn’t take long for me to pass on the pious proposal; not due to some wild claim of perfection, but rather Paul’s radical take on psycho-spiritual health. I’d better explain.

‘Reckon yourselves dead unto sin and alive unto to God’ are some of the most therapeutic words that our mystic thinker may have uttered. Their profundity all hinges around the wee word reckon, an ancient accountancy term that implies taking the facts of cold numbers into consideration. To reckon is to rest upon that which is beyond dispute. So dear old Paul seems to infer that we’re dead folk walking. No longer living in a state of fear-fueled dysfunction towards Divine Love, but presently at One with it. The old wiring of our paranoid ego is to be reckoned as gone, because in Ultimate Reality it is. The mystic Paul saw past the transitory nature of our psycho-spiritual perceptions of separation from Source.

The human spirit has never been on a prodigal journey of excess and happiness hunting. No, it’s always been a spark from the Divine Fire, albeit one buried under the rantings and flailing arms of ego. It’s our psyche-soul that has believed the lie of God disapproval, arming itself with all manner of weapons in its first-strike policies of attack. Paul is claiming that the old controlling ways of ego are now dead and buried. We no longer have to engage with ego’s dysfunction or ‘sin’, to use a heavily rigged religious word. No, there is, and indeed, always has been an alternative way to live, viz, to be alive unto or within God.

Now what does this mean in practice. Well for a start the guilt of ego spin is no longer to be entertained. Bad news for certain strands of evangelicalism. The old thought patterns of never being good enough can be dispensed with forever. They were never true in the first place. No longer do we have to obtain brownie points with the Divine, or perhaps more importantly, others in our space-time sojourn. For, we have finally woken up to the facts of the matter – we are alive unto God. In other words, we can’t disengage from God. We live and move and have our very being in Divine Love. Can a fish escape from its ocean home – not likely. All we are asked to do is reckon on being as close to Divine Love as is possible, for in reality we are. Paul suggests that this radical new way of seeing oneself, others and Divine Source, is the key to joy and authentic freedom – freedom from the confused, threatening world of ego.

So back to my Job’s comforter. Well, of course there is nothing wrong with hanging out with other folk of faith, those with a spiritual take on life. None at all. But is it essential? I believe not. Let’s look at my friend’s two main spiritual directions for my wellbeing.

1) Accountable relationships

Well, I have to be honest, I’ve had my fill of so-called accountable religious relationships over the years. Those who have read my wee tale of Irish pilgrimage, The Prodigal Prophet will understand why. That being said, I reckon such relationships are not in line with what Paul has declared. For, if we reckon ourselves dead to the dysfunction of ego, why do we need others to watch our back and be the Lone-Rangers of our soul. If the new life that Paul so confidently declares is real then why are Christians so hung up on being hijacked once more by the old ways; so hung up as to have pseudo-guardians cover them within religious communities. No either this new birth or awakening is real or a myth that should be confined to religious history. I tend to plump for the former.

2) Folk who speak into our lives.

Lots of folk speak into my life, everyone I converse with on a daily basis, especially my good lady Zan, who keeps me firmly earthed in all matters marital. Of course my recent adviser wasn’t referring to that kind of input. Rather I suspect that he meant a counselor who could speak words of correction and advice to me, one who knows the Mind of God regarding me more than I do. Again, I’ve experienced this in the past. Usually it eventually turned out that such a wise caring counselor was just as screwed up as I was, perhaps even more so. One of the folk who fulfilled this role in my life wondered at a time how my marriage survived the traumas that Zan and I had passed through. A number of year’s later the same counselor had an extra-marital affair with the headmistress of his Christian school and resigned from all counseling ministry. No, there has to be a better way and there is.

Once ego, lets go of its Linus-blanket control, we are once again able to hear the Voice of Wisdom within. Unfettered by prejudice and skewed vision, the musings of Spirit are always close to hand. Sometimes a gut feeling, sometimes a precise though or insight, Divine Love within knows how to maintain us in the flow of  Life like no other. Of course, when we suggest such a thing, our concerned religious advisers will quickly recoil, accusing us of spiritual arrogance and delusory self-importance. Not so. We have only taken or reckoned the mystic Paul at his word. And that of course is sacrosanct in Christian circles. Enough said.

Happy listening to all and remember to take the pseudo-spiritual words of others with a large pinch of salt. Especially mine. If the words of wisdom from a caring other don’t ring true in your spirit-gut, smile sweetly and move on.

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Living To Die ~ Dying To Live

Living To Die ~ Dying To Live

 

I’ve just been listening to Cat Steven’s new wee song, Dying To Live ~ Living To Die. It’s really sparked something within me, on this warm, Lincolnshire, blog-writing morning; so here goes.

Many of us are dying to live. We just feel like we haven’t got to a place that can be really called living. If only is the wee phrase that gives it away. If only I’d a better, bigger, whatever. You know how it goes. The advertising industry certainly do for it is their raison d’être. We feel like a glass half empty if we’re lucky. Some of feel drained dry on a permanent basis as we struggle for a drop of life to keep us going. Show me the one who claims to be living life to the full and I’ll show you a liar, be they a hedonistic playboy or a religious zealot. No, not even after some sublime spiritual experiences do we constantly feel fully alive. I reckon, it’s the way it’s been designed, a metaphysical carrot to keep us on the Way.

Our dying to live takes many forms. Ego suggests a whole selection of ways that we can kill ourselves during our earthly sojourn. Addictions, a stream of broken relationships, self-imposed lacks of all kinds appear to be sponsored by our wounded, shame orientated self who confidently declares that we deserve to die. We are often our own firing squad, lining up to fire an assortment of psycho-spiritual weapons that will put us out of our misery. Unfortunately though it doesn’t work. We rise again to go through the whole suicide attempt again.

Let’s face it we are addicted to dying, hoping to prove to ourselves and Other that we are heroes worthy of Love. The gloomy, morose among us are death junkies par excellence. Everything is seen through the lens of death. Trips to the doctor’s surgery a regular ritual, hoping to hear the worst – news that induce pity and some sense of self-worth as we teeter on the brink of space-time.

And yet there is a dying process, one not driven by ego, that does lead to life. It is the awakening process within that unties the bonds of psychological attachments. Let’s just say that ego doesn’t like it at all. It will rant and rave that it alone is the expert in the dying business. Yet, under the guidance and encouragement Spirit Breath, the Intelligent Energy of our Source life-giver, we are led into situations where we go through mini-deaths. Yet these mini-deaths are really portals into a new sense of freedom, not the totality of Life as it shall be, but as it can be here within the constraints of space-time.

If Spirit nudges for us to jump off our personal psycho-spiritual cliffs of attachment then my advice, based on painful experience, is to leap with all one’s might. Divine Presence is always there to work its wonders, to catch and restore those who trust. Letting go of addictive relationships or other psychological crutches is always the path to life, no matter how much ego protests.

The reality in which we find ourselves suggests that we are all living to die. What an absurd thought. We run around like headless chickens for a while before running out of steam and ending up as a cold corpse in the frozen earth or a little urn of ashes to be sprinkled onto a local beauty spot. Could Source really be so cruel. Life seems to be a school which rings the closing bell, sending us into nothingness where the lessons learned will be of no further earthly use. No wonder many great philosophers ended up mad or taking their own lives.

Of course religion weaves its pseudo magic and asks the faithful to embrace suffering and die a thousand deaths daily – all for Jesus. Such a warped mindset has milked death for all it’s worth. Many religious organisations are kept going by the sacrificial endeavours of their members, all in the name of God, though often resulting in manipulation, misery and control. Death cannot be used as a religious tool to keep the flock in line. The dying of ego is a more liberating process than the  numerous self-hating hoops through which we jump in our pursuit of religious reality.

The whole life thing seems to be one great Cosmic joke, a teaser of the cruellest kind. We live to die. Full stop. Some folk appear to accept this and just get on with it. ‘Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die’ is the wisdom of many. It certainly brings a measure of release for some, but niggling in the depths of being the question remains. ‘Is this really all that there is?’

So, I guess if the Nazarene hadn’t turned up and gone through the whole gamut of human existence that I’d join the above club. No matter how wonderful the teaching of the Jewish prophet, it’s only half of the claimed story. Even in our scientific age we can’t get around the big one. Disheartened, fearful men and women, such as ourselves, came bursting out of a Jerusalem safe house to declare that their executed leader was alive and well. Not the kind of thing that disillusioned sect devotees usually get up to. How or what happened to the Nazarene isn’t the topic for this post but rather the answer to the ‘living to die’ downer. ‘Living to die to Live’ seems to be closer to the Divine Mystery. Our conscious Self appears to continue on after ditching this shell-like body. Rather than the end, death is only a beginning.

Try and get hold of Cat’s or Yusaf’s wee song.

❤ Dylan

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Who's Hiding Inside

Who’s Hiding Inside

 

Tucked away within a slime covered oyster, one lying in the murky depths of the swirling ocean, lies a pearl of great price. The divers of indigenous peoples take their life in their hands to dive deep to bring to the surface these watery treasures, for sale and display. Likewise it takes a level of  daring for us to enter the murky depths of our inner world to discover what lies beneath. It’s a dive that many of us refuse to take, particularly, may I tentatively suggest, those of us who claim to follow the Nazarene. Within the confines of both conservative and progressive belief systems, inner diving is looked upon with great suspicion. Labelled as a form of  self-absorption, a wasteful narcissism, we’re advised not to dabble our toes in the waters of Self.

For the conservative disciple, Jesus/Yeshua, is all we need. We keep looking outwards at mental projections of his death and resurrection, believing that we’re somehow saved from an eternity outside the reach of God’s love. Of course a measure of inner knowledge is occasionally suggested, but it refers only to the indwelling Spirit that has somehow come to take up residence within the faithful believer. Now where exactly Spirit is believed to have settled isn’t really explained, with both soul (psyche) and spirit (ours) bandied around as religious buzz words without any real explanation. No, the emphasis is primarily one of relating to an external God, One who is somehow out there. Mission, the evangelisation of others, is the overarching goal of the conservative believer, with very little time left for Self exploration and inner knowledge. Brainwashed that such introversion is for the selfish New Age types, the pearl is left to sit within the encrusted shell of ego, our wounded and dare I say it, unhealed psyche-soul.

For the progressive too, the inner search for meaning is also a somewhat Don Quixote waste of time. Rightly believing the  Nazarene to be a revolutionary of the scapegoating social order, the Progressive sets out of a Love mission to show the compassion of God to others. No airy-fairy pie-in-the-sky love for the Progressive, but a practical siding with the victims of society in a sleeves rolled-up kind of way. For the Progressive the Nazarene is to be found in the tear-stained face of others. A vital part of the salvation narrative but not the whole story. For the Progressive the inner world is one of angst and pain, the drivers of their compassion for wounded others. Yet, they too seem reluctant to explore their own inner world, preferring to explore the inner world of others instead. Much less painful and perhaps much more ego boosting. No, the Progressive follower of the Nazarene tends to see the Queendom-Kingdom without, in the mess of the here and now. The realm of Divine Love within is one that is believed but not really sought. More important things to do in our earthed, yet partial take on the Nazarene and his message.

Both religious tribes tend to view each other with deep suspicion while leaving the inner journey thing to the mystics of other traditions. Such inner travellers are viewed as a bit of a waste of space and those to be pitied with their tales of self-knowledge and an inner Presence. Get into that stuff too much and you’ll soon be living  at the top of an Egyptian desert pole or, more likely, taking a much-needed break in a mental health institution.

No, let’s face it. Inner knowledge isn’t top of the Yeshua followers to do list. Best left to the Mind, Body, Spirit brigade and their supposed, uncaring narcissism. And yet, the divine portal, the pearl of the human spirit, still lies deep within, growing and crying out for expression. And expression it will eventually get.

When the masks of ego fall away during the performance we call life, when the slime of our shell-like ego is washed away in the storms that beset us, when something breaks within, opening the clamp-like grip of our psyche-soul to reveal a touch of Source, the divine deposit that makes us who we are. Our authentic self, that part of us untouched by pain and struggle, that centre that flows into the Energy of God.

And the way in?

Silence and reflection as we lie on the Divine Psychiatrist’s couch, willing to meet our shadow Self with all its warts and deep felt pain. A passer-by on our journey Home, one we can’t ignore but need to embrace as we walk towards the Light. Such sessions aren’t the result of strenuous Self-Improvement effort but the co-operation of a psyche-soul that knows the time has come to relinquish control. The day of ego has passed and Divine Love begins to do its healing, yet painful thing.

Is it any wonder that we keep busy with Jesus? Better an outside Saviour than one who walks with us through the valley of psyche-soul, the valley of death into the pastures lands of spirit-Self and Divine Love.

Now where did I put that mask?

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Sorry, Do I Know You?

Sorry, Do I Know You?

 

Without doubt life’s a weird dance. A 70+ years’performance with all the intricate twists and turns of inter-personal relationships and attachments. The longer I live the less I seem to know. Yet, maybe that’s the way it was meant to be. At the end of it all maybe we’ll just fall into the compassionate arms of Mystery having done our thing on the dance floor of space-time.

One of the most baffling elements in life is our perception of those close to us. We get to a place where we think we know them, only to be shocked and surprised by some of their newly emerging hidden layers. At times I wonder if we’re just relating to a projection of ourselves – an idealised me, rather than the real other, whoever that may be. I suspect that the majority of our daily interactions operate on this semi-delusional basis. All that we know about the other is the mask which they wear with pride. A camouflaged disguise to throw us off the scent of their inner brokenness and pain. Often, we are merely two masks boosting each others egos, a little mutual appreciation society that gets us both through the day.

Of course we can easily switch masks at the drop of a psycho-spiritual hat. Our numerous little sub-personalities, those that comprise ego, have quite a store of them from which to draw upon. A face for every situation under the sun methinks. Like some frantic trick or treater  we are skilled at flashing up a new face in order to get what we need, viz. a little care and attention to numb our debilitating internal pain. Is it any wonder that relationships come and go, prospering only to eventually hit the rocks of estrangement? Our friend has repeatedly seen all our faces and is growing totally bored with them. Time to move on and admire a new set of masks. “So long! It’s been nice knowing you, or more accurately, not knowing you!”

The dance of the masks has many stages on which to do its thing. Marriage is a classic example of such a performance area. Many marriages break down as the power of the illusion begins to lose its efficacy, finally revealing what the other person was really like all along. Paradoxically, marital mask wearing is a pretty dangerous game, for as it draws us ever closer together, we automatically open ourselves up to the possibility of our mask slipping. Our fantastical romantic projections fall away, leaving us with just another flawed human being, one crying out for authenticity and love. Shocked, some of us miraculously find a new love within, one with which to embrace the other’s now deeply apparent brokenness. Others, exhausted by the endless marrital games of hide and seek, decide enough is another and run for the nearest divorce lawyer. Licking our relational wounds we hide away until another mesmerising mask passes our way, enticing us into a brand new love dance.

Collective mask dances also prove to be potent protectors  in our ego’s defensive armoury. “There’s safety in numbers,” we reason before signing up and joining in. Bumping into numerous others on the dance floor of communal swing, makes us feel much safer for a while. Much social belonging takes this tantalising form. Yet, we interact on the basis of keeping our hidden Self behind a jolly veil of whole-hearted participation. Sadly, a high proportion of our religious involvements within those pietistic families known as church, tend to fall into this category. Churches aren’t really set up for stark realities, for such realities would explode the often superficial group dynamic almost as soon as it was established. No, we all have available to hand a convincing religious self, a devout mask with which to deal with the depth of interaction required in our particular sect of choice. Just turning up with a beatific smile each Sunday is all that’s required for some groups. Others ask a lot more of us, in terms of time, energy and above all cash, along with a zealous believer’s mask, one that reinforces the control of the collective group narrative. Yet, as soon as reality begins to break through an unwelcome chink in a member’s psycho-spiritual armour and their mask falls to the ground, the collective quickly offers them a replacement mask, one to be pitied and prayed for in the continuing religious dance. Of course, the alternative response is a swift expulsion, a communal act of isolation that sends the maskless one out into the desert darkness of unbelief.

So, when we interact with those around us today, let’s see if we can identify our mutual, multifaceted masks. For behind such veneers lie real people, those buried in the pain of ego entanglement. A little act of courage on our part, may see us removing one of our precious masks, thus allowing the other to reciprocate. The first, healing steps toward a genuinely authentic connection. Yet, to achieve such an intimate level of inter-personal knowing first requires our own internal knowing. Only Spirit can draw us into our own persoanl dark room, that Silence where we sit naked and alone with Source. But more of that next week.

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