This was the mystical story that happened to me when I was in college, a reminder that there is more than the mask called "I."
I was in special education at the time, and we had to do an assignment for art class. We had to make a ceramic mask, and then paint the outside to reflect our outer self and the inside to reflect our inner self.
I had brought makeup to paint the outside. I applied foundation, eye shadow, blush, and lipstick. There were no eyes, so no need for mascara. For the inner, I painted it black. I liked the way it looked, but thought perhaps some eyes, just for decoration. I affixed two eyes, and then it was show-and-tell time.
We had to explain our mask to the others in the class. When it came to my turn, I explained that this was my outside, the painted woman. She was pretty and put-together, but my true self was pure blackness. I mentioned that the eyes were just for decoration, but really, they weren’t necessary and they weren’t really there.
My classmate right beside me was the first speak out. She said I had done it the reverse way ‘round, that I pretended to be this mysterious person, but was really this pretty woman on the inside. My classmates seemed to concur. The teacher said nothing.
I sat there, dismayed. I tried to protest, but they didn’t understand.
The bell rang, and class had ended.
I packed up, but felt alone and unhappy inside. I had spoken truth, my truth, but no one understood.
It was only later, when I turned to meditation, that clarity on this experience came. I had shared what so many enlightened ones had said, that the true being is nothingness, emptiness, a pure witnessing, even.
And this "I", this ego, and the emotions that came were a common experience of many on the path of spiritual awakening.
It wasn’t the other’s fault that they didn’t understand. I myself had shared such profound wisdom, and yet I had no knowledge of meditation at the time. I only knew what I said was true, and the twisted feeling that came would come again many times while on the path, when I would have realizations and experiences that could not be shared with just anyone.
Each has the choice to explore their inner terrain, their inner beingness, yet so few have felt the calling to do so.
I had had mystical experiences since young, yet like everyone else, had had my fair share of suffering. When that suffering was brought to its cumulation and the word “enough!” erupted in my mind like hot lava erupting from a volcano, the calling to return was heeded, and the inner journey began. Indeed, it had always been so, only “I” was remiss in seeing the many pieces that seemed odd and weird, and strewn here and there, but were always guiding me homeward bound.
Home, the place we never left.
Home, here and now.
Home, like the om, the vibration of the universe in one breath.
Home, another word for stillness and emptiness.
Yes, behind the mask is emptiness. Emptiness, no holiness.