Laughing Buddha - The Buddha Mask
by Aalif Surti
As seekers, we may believe that we have become aware, and that we have dropped our false personas. However, sometimes we have only traded it in for a new mask – a spiritual persona. In a hilarious group session a few months ago, my brother and mentor Gyandev (GD) helped us dissect and laugh at the masks we may wear as seekers, or healers. Here is my light-hearted summation of the key spiritual ‘displays.’
The Buddha Mask: You have seen the statue, now see the person. Unaffected by others, far removed from worldly emotions, this mask says, “You can’t touch me… I am beyond it all.” Behind it hides sensitivity, fear, and confusion. During my early Vipassana days, some people called me ‘Aloof’ instead of ‘Aalif.’
The Positivity Mask: Those who practise affirmations and positive thinking, sometimes feel compelled to uphold an abnormally high frequency of ecstasy. Ask them how they are, and an automated voice reply comes: “Amazing! Life is full of miracles!” Nevertheless, when it is a mask, their eyes, their energy, and aura tell a different story.
The ‘Superior-Seeker’ Mask: They enter a room, and the whole room suddenly feels unworthy. They carry a subtle air of superiority. They are on the high road to heaven, and they smile beatifically upon all the creepy crawlies with an air of cultivated compassion. Proving superiority all the time is a dead giveaway for a sense of inferiority.
The Messiah Mask: They are out to change the world – one flailing, resisting human at a time. These are the givers of support and nurturance and advice… whether anyone asks for it or not. However, give they must, because they need to avoid the confusion and emptiness within.
The Pundit Mask: References obscure texts and uses big Sanskrit words. Will disrupt a conversation to quote a 16th century Indian mystic. It is a mask when they talk the talk, but do not walk the walk.
The Lost-in-Space Mask: They find a way to bring pleiadians, archangels, and entities, into every normal conversation. They take name-dropping to a completely new dimension. While the masks may be twisted and rigid, the people underneath these masks are not foolish or nasty. “They are you and me,” GD said, “Innocently trying to cover up a wound of not-being-enough by putting on a show. Masks are a way of saying ‘I am special’ but ironically, each mask ends up proving the opposite – each mask reveals a lack of self-love.”
Former creative head Fox Star
Studios, Aalif Surti works as an
independent creative producer exploring
opportunities for consciousness in media All of us play a variety of roles in life. When we are conscious of the role-playing, there is no problem. Masks are problematic because they are compulsive and unconscious, and come from ego, not insight.
Moreover, whenever the ego creates a mask, it has to suppress the opposite in oneself – a compulsive giver finds it hard to ask for help; the intellectual ceases to listen and ask questions; Buddha-face cannot show vulnerability or intimacy when needed.
When someone asked GD at the end of the workshop, how she could prevent the mask from coming back on later, GD replied, “Make a joke of it, phone us all up and say, ‘Hey look, my mask is back.’ The moment you become aware, it loses its power. And once you make it a joke, it disappears.”
In the absence of masks, he reminded us, we can become like the beautiful little children we all are inside – who can be all of the above when required – and their exact opposite when required – without holding onto any particular face.
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