When Mike Posner met Ram Dass, he asked for advice.
Ram Dass told him:
I heard this about a year ago. Yet, I still think about it to this day. Because it is so profoundly simple and so true.
Even more, we’ve known it to be true ever since we were young.
When you are a baby, if someone cradles you, you smile. If someone ignores you, you cry.
Are adults really that different?
If someone gives you love – a genuine compliment, a random act of kindness, a smile – you smile. If someone imposes fear – a dirty look, a middle finger, an irate boss – your heart shrinks. The problem is that as we get older, we put on a mask to hide our emotions.
As the young infant grows to be teenager or adult, he puts up a mask to hide his true nature.
It can be a cold world out there. So in order to deal with this reality, we create a persona. This is a false image of who we actually are. It’s a mask.
This mask can get us into trouble.
The classic example is the bully in school.
He appears to be a big tough guy, but that’s just because he’s hiding something deeper beneath the surface. He’s put on a mask. It could be that his dad bullies him. It could be that he wasn’t shown love as a child. It could be that he feels inferior. So the bully takes it out on others, by trying to collect lunch money or starting fights.
But how does the story always go?
Someone stands up to the bully, and the bully starts to cry.
What is that crying really?
It’s the shedding of his mask.
But it’s not just the bully who has put on a mask.
We all put on masks. It starts with the conditioning, “you’re not good enough, you need to have this, that, and the other to be successful. Then you can feel good.”
But what most people realize is that they get these things…
And they don’t feel good at all. It’s the greatest lie of all time.
Mike Posner realized this when he said: “I worked the last ten years. I’m a multimillionaire. I’m thirty years old, it’s supposed to all be good. It’s not fucking all good. Fuck!”
When you are rude to someone, you’re putting on a mask. When you like an Instagram photo and you don’t actually like it, you’re putting on a mask. When you say “I love you” and you don’t mean it, you’re putting on a mask.
Because the Mask is the opposite of love.
What Does The Mask Represent?
The mask is fear.
Fear can be expressed with hate, envy, anger, sadness, or depression.
- When you compare yourself to others, you are living in fear. “I’m not good enough!”
- When you hate someone else, you are living in fear. “I hate this person!”
- When you hate yourself, you are living in fear. “I hate myself!”
We put on the mask to hide our fear. That’s what the bully is doing on the playground. And that’s what the bully in real life might be doing in the boardroom as well.
How To Take The Mask Off
You take off the mask by embodying love.
Not saying “I love you” or wanting someone to love you.
Just being love.
It’s a practice.
- Watch your mind think for any period of time
- Take a person you intensely disagree with and send them love
- Do a random act of kindness
- Repeat “I love you” in your head to each person you pass
Here’s how Ram Dass practiced embodying love:
One way I practice doing so is by placing a photograph of a politician with whom I intensely disagree on my puja table – my altar. Each morning when I wake up, I say good morning to the Buddha, to my guru, and to the other holy beings there. But I find that it’s with a different spirit that I say, “Hello Mr. Politician.” I know it sounds like a funny thing to do, but it reminds me of how far I have to go to see the Beloved in everybody.
Something funny happens when you embody love…
Other people’s masks come off. Because the mask is a way for other people to protect themselves, they no longer feel like they have to be a particular way. They are free to express themselves as their true selves.
So try it out?
Embody love. See what happens.
Feel free to send me an email at my email at this domain with your experience.