What are the masks that we all hide behind? And what is behind those layers? It's Halloween. We get the thrill of putting on a mask and dressing up as something other than ourselves because we love to live out a persona. Especially when the mask is in stark contrast to one's true character: the most docile person in the office dressing up as the Wicked Witch of the West or your mom dressing up like Rambo. We have our laughs, we make the jokes, we revel in the fun. Yet the moment comes later that night when we are alone at the bathroom sink, the wig comes off, we wash off the makeup, and once we've rinsed our face, we lift our gaze and take a good, hard look at the fresh face in the mirror. There you are, staring right back into your own eyes, almost surprised to see that face again. What is behind all those layers?
It's like we are all dressed as mummies, wrapped with layers of things that hide our true form, layers of identity of what I think I am: my profession, my opinions, cynicism, emotions, tensions, attachments, preferences, and prejudices. Those are a mask. To see the mummy in all its bandages is a poor likeness of the radiant being beneath. And yoga is the practice of peeling off the bandages, even just a little, to see what's between the layers. We've all had a look at one time or another. It's brilliant. It's both the most simple and sublime yet natural thing ever. I believe that I may never get to see fully what's under my layers, but I hope for enough of those small glimpses of the real stuff that I may begin to piece together a sense of what my True Self looks like.
Sometimes it's hard to take off that mask, especially if we've worn it for a long time and we've come to identify with it a bit too much; the adhesive was a little too effective and it hurts to rip it off. This is the point of our practice: becoming familiar enough with what's underneath the layers that identifying with anything other than our True Self seems as absurd as the ninja outfit we were wearing. And with a little skill, we learn to look at others and see what's behind their mask, because we've seen a glimpse of the same stuff in ourselves. We all have the mask and that's part of the practice, too-learning to see the mask as just that and laugh and enjoy the fun, just like a Halloween party, because we all know there is something more radiant beneath. And somehow we can see a resemblance of it even in the mask.
I love sincere people because I never feel like they are putting on a show. I know where I stand with them because there's no act. At the bottom of sincerity, I believe, rests honesty. Truth. While I love to joke around as much as the next person, I really love sincerity. May we all seek for sincerity in being and learn to see past our own and everybody else's mask. In this way we can show true love and compassion and togetherness. May we all embrace each other, laughing, knowing that something brighter than the mask is dancing beneath the surface. And may we all be brave enough to rip off the mask, to peek between our mummy wrap, and practice seeing our own radiance.