A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What's under the mask?

The other day I was looking in the mirror and found myself wondering what if I had glued a mask onto my face and forgotten about it. I'd think the mask in the mirror was my real face. To me it wouldn't be a mask, it would be who I really am. Even though it wasn't me, it would be me. I wondered what if I had glued on not one mask, but ten, or a hundred. If I managed to pry off one mask, I'd think the mask below was me, even though it wasn't.

Actually, this is the story of my life. It reminds me of that weird thing in calculus where you cross the room by half, and then again by half, and every time the distance is halved again and you never reach the other side of the room. I try on different identities and every time I think I've found myself I haven't. Even no-self or Self or big mind or emptiness have a way of solidifying into a new mask, a new concept-in-the-head that I think is finally the real me. But it's just another mask.

Not knowing drove me crazy until I realized that not knowing was the land outside of the head, a land outside of masks, outside of words and definitions. Now I am making peace with not knowing, and it shocks me to discover that not knowing is a realm of greater intelligence than the realm of the known and definable. Awareness is suddenly untrapped from a million thoughts.

Matter and time are masks, and I don't know what's under the mask. In that not knowing I feel at home and I am myself.

4 comments:

Cindy said...

So interesting, because your first instinct (reading about the mask) is to wonder, how to get the mask off and what is underneath or at the bottom and then at the end you have led me to your experience of not trying to get anywhere and accomplish unmasking and getting right to the vastness and untrapped-ness of not knowing. To say you are home and yourself not knowing is ... tickly to the spine. :)

Colleen Loehr said...

I'm all for the pursuit of knowledge, but some things are beyond the ken of the intellect, beyond the pincers of the mind. So paradoxically, dwelling in not knowing turns out to be a deeper kind of knowing for that realm of essence that can't be encapsulated in thought. Spine tingling is a good way to describe this heightened alertness of relaxing into not knowing- I'm glad to get your feedback Cyn.

Lou said...

This was a beautiful read. The imagery of peeling off layers of masks (for me it was a tunnel of african/mardi gras/halloween masks) was so vivid that I think I will never forget it, and since the idea tingled me to the bone of my identity, I feel like the "ME" in me has just danced off in a parade. .... Really, I'm NOT high. :)))

This blog is a great idea Colleen!!!

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Hev-Lou! Great to see you here and I love your comment. It's a shock when that face I always thought was me is suddenly recognized as not-me; when the idea I had of myself is realized not to be who I am. There are moments where I live undefined and feel more like myself than the times when I've got myself boxed into my latest understanding. Of course we can't live without masks (roles, egos, self-definitions, personalities) and I wouldn't want to, the masks are functional and can add a lot of pizzazz to life. But it's also great to hang out in that place under the mask of the mind...

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Greetings. I am a psychiatrist working at a state hospital, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University of Missouri Medical School. I am also a wife and mother of three grown children. Qigong has profoundly changed my life for the better. I am interested in connecting with other people interested in qigong.

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