Oscar Wilde nailed it in “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. The vain aesthete Dorian Gray kept a portrait of himself hidden in the attic, and while his face stayed youthful as the decades passed, his visage on the painting aged ungracefully. Wilde wrote: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth”. If we need put on masks to reveal our own truths, then what is the truth behind your mask?
Ancient Greek Theatre began with the use of masks, as single actors would perform whilst wearing a prosopon, a ceremonial face covering that would allow the actor to ‘disappear’ as he transformed into the true character. Masks enabled an actor to play multiple roles and also functioned as a vocal amplifier for the large outdoor theatres.
My business mentors Max Simon & Jeffrey Van Dyk taught that “there are no problems to be solved, just truths to be revealed”. At this point it would be apropos to ask: What are your problems, and what might be your unrevealed truths?
Spiritual wisdom hints a great deal towards how coverings are used to shield higher truths. The travelling Temple described in Exodus has many different phrases for coverings. Each elaborately-decorated curtain or tapestry was designed to hide a Divine object – in some ways the existence of the covering hinted to the deeper spiritual opportunity within. The only people who were qualified to create the coverings and ornaments were those who were ‘wise of heart’, ‘wise hearted’, with a ‘motivated heart’*, possibly because they had to know the inner truths before they were to create the outer masks. If someone was to create the outer mask without understanding what it was covering, then they would be seduced by the superficiality.
The Kabbalah talks of the superficial masks as ‘shells’ or ‘husks’ (klipot) and how these are the ultimate forms of negative energy. From a purely practical standpoint, they are effectively masks which have become fused to objects, as if somebody was wearing a mask and it literally became stuck onto their face.
How often does this happen to us? We can become so used to putting on a mask to the outside world that we forget who we are. Like the hidden picture of Dorian Gray in the attic, if we convince ourself that the mask we are wearing is true, we ignore the fact that somewhere there is a self-portrait that is dearly paying the price.
Many years ago I heard a business trainer begin a breakfast networking session by asking the question: ‘how are you lying to yourself today? In the next few hours, keep asking that question: ‘how am I lying to myself? What am I being untruthful about?’. Today’s challenge is to ask that question of yourself and see what is revealed.
There are no problems to be solved, just truths to be revealed. When we start getting clear on our own truths we are in a better position to serve clients, to be fully present in relationships and to help the world to the best of our ability. Head up to the attic, see which paintings are hidden there, and start dusting them off.
FREED’S RECOMMENDED ACTION STEPS:
MEDITATE ON THIS: Where am I being untruthful? How can I be more authentic?
ON THE YOGA MAT: Where is my body out of alignment? Where am I using an excuse or being untruthful about a physical habit (e.g. saying I want to eat less carbs but not doing anything about it).
TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR BUSINESS: Where am I not being honest in my business? Where am I not taking the actions that are consistent with the goals and ambitions I have set myself? Which structures do I need to create to make this happen?
Based on Parsha Vayakhel.
* There are many, many references to coverings here: ‘and its coverings’ (Exodus 35:11), ‘the cover’ (35:12), ‘partition-curtain’ (35:12), ‘entrance screen’ (25:15), ‘copper netting/lattice’ (35:16), ‘curtains of the courtyard’ (35:17), ‘screen of the gate of the courtyard’ (35:17), ‘vestments (priestly clothing) (35:19)…there are lots more! ‘Cover’ notes courtesy of Marissa Salem.
There are also many references to the wise-hearted. Exodus 35:7 refers to the ‘generous of heart’; keep reading and see how many you can spot.
…Now if you connect these two – lots of references to coverings, lots of references to the heart, consider how we keep our heart covered. This concept is described elsewhere as removing the ‘foreskin of the heart’ (Deut 10:16), a clumsy English translation for removing the shells which keep our hearts closed from others.