Peter's Points to Ponder
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From Nancy Amestoy "I'm always happy to hear what's seeping into Peter's brilliant skull. He is an astute observer of human behavior and a passionate pioneer in the field of integrative funtioning and human development."
"I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another." - William Shakespeare
If you put 200 people - diverse in as many ways as possible - in a theatre and then project the world going by in real time, no doubt these 200 folks will have 200 different opinions, reactions, observations, judgments, or takes on what they're viewing.
Your Original Face
Reality vs. reality
As these folks sit and watch, what's informing their interpretation, their perception, is their internal map of reality. While "Reality" (capital R) is what's passing by on the screen, most everyone is seeing that reality from their own "inner" reality – their beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, misperceptions, premises, "stories" they've created, paradigms, that is, their history, memory and experience, describe what they're viewing. No two people are "hardwired" the same; thus, their views about life and living are products of their respective life experiences, beginning at birth.
So, then, what is "real" reality and what is the reality we create in our immediate experience? The answer to this question can help us understand why we experience so much conflict in dealing not only with ourselves but with one another - at work, at home, at play and in relationship.
In Zen and Buddhism, a "koan" is a challenging question or statement that prompts one to engage in reflection - the intention is to lead one to a higher state of understanding or awareness. There is a Zen koan that says: "Show me your original face before you were born." This koan asks us to stretch – in a way that allows us to access our True, Real and Authentic Self – the self we are/were before being born. In this process, we transcend our "database" of thoughts, concepts, beliefs, etc., and move to a place of no-mind – where we experience Reality as it truly is, experience our self as we truly are. Our true face before we were born is actually who we were (and still are!) before we were shaped and crafted by our "life experience." This koan asks us to stretch – in a way that allows us to access our True, Real and Authentic Self – the self we are/were before being born. In this process, we transcend our "database" of thoughts, concepts, beliefs, etc., and move to a place of no-mind – where we experience Reality as it truly is, experience our self as we truly are. Our true face before we were born is actually who we were (and still are!) before we were shaped and crafted by our "life experience."
"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true." - Nathaniel Hawthorne
The koan is not meant to cause a reactive: "How can I have a face, or exist, before I was born?" It is a question of "Who am I without my set of beliefs, or my image of myself or an identity that I've adopted for myself?" Reflecting on the koan can help us see how attached we are to "my reality," - my beliefs, assumptions, theories, perceptions, perspectives, etc. Deep reflection can also support us to flow in a space of no-mind, an "original space" of mental quietude, unencumbered by our thoughts and thought patterns - our history, memory or experiences.
The point is that when we become more natural and internally quiet, and we are able to let go, we can better interact with others, not as a robotic, human collection of beliefs, opinions, or assumptions, etc., but as one who is open, curious, and accepting in the way we experience our world.
"False face must hide what the false heart doth know." - William Shakespeare
We sort of "re-birth" ourselves each time we draw a conclusion about "who I am." Each time we make a decision/judgment about our self – "I'm not good in social situations with others," I'm a great leader," "I have problems with difficult people," I'm not very smart," – we create our identity, our "subjective face and move farther away from our "original face."
But, each of us has an "original face" – the face of who we were before we identified with anything or anyone. And, the good news is we can return to our original face, the place of inner peace and well-be-ing, if we learn to let go of our "false face." Our "original face" is not only devoid of the superficial, surface elements of make-up, but the "false face" of beliefs and assumptions about who we think we are, most often, beliefs that really don't serve us and cause us pain and suffering.
Don't take it personally
When we don’t take the people, events and circumstances of our world personally, we can move into a place of deep relaxation and peace - our "original face." Here, we can watch the projection of the world go by right in front of us - at work, at home, at play and in relationship - without the need to become reactive. Rather, our experience is one without tension, pretension, fakeness, or phoniness – none of the "shoulds" telling us how to be or what to do.
"Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find his own." - Logan Pearsall Smith
So, what takes us away from our "original face?" In a word, survival. First, as young children our survival – physical, emotional, mental, psychological, spiritual – depended on our unconsciously taking on others' beliefs as to how we should behave. If we behaved accordingly, we "survived." If not, we lost out on love, recognition, approval and for some, safety and security. As we developed, we took on more and more beliefs, assumptions and ways of do-ing and be-ing that we felt would help us "survive" – at work, at home, at play and in relationship.
Now, as adults, we no longer have access to our "original face." We wear masks, and have various personas we take off and put on daily so we can "survive." Having lost our "original face," we've become unconsciously controlled by our ego mind as reflected by our inability to just let the world pass by as we sit in that theatre. Rather, we have an unconscious need to react, judge, compare, contrast, offer opinions, and be "right." We put our best face forward, to survive. We hold on to all our faces so we have them just in case.
"Solitude: sweet absence of faces." - Milan Kundera
When we let go of our false faces, of our need to "survive," and habitual and patterned ways of thinking, do-ing and be-ing, and allow ourselves to sink into and penetrate deeply into our core Self, we set ourselves free – free to allow our "original face" – free from self-limiting, self-defeating, and self-sabotaging thoughts, beliefs, "stories" and identifications. In this place we can sit in the theatre of life and experience the world – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – without needing to take it "personally."
Our "original face" is what supports us to see the freshness of life, in every moment, free of conflict and the need to be judgmental, confrontational, combative or controlling.
If you have not viewed my video, Overcoming Racism, What Stands in the Way, it's here: https://youtu.be/nJ3rRSSCnus