Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > The True Face

 
 

A True Face

The Way of Remembering

Jul 24, 2022

Saying For Today: Trying to be a criminal or a saint are both diversions from that we are.


Red Geranium

Red Geranium

Damariscotta, ME; Inn Along the Way, Chapman Farm

* * *

Itís a kind of death when we run away from the ordinary toward what we think is holy. We run away from ourselves.

*Thich Nhat Hahn. Zen Battles: Modern Commentary on the Teachings of Master Linji.

* * *

No matter what makeup one puts on the face, the face is still the face. Buddhism teaches that our True Face is already that we are - contemplative Christians speak of the True Self. In fact, we cannot be other. We can do nothing to add to it or take from it. We cannot not be that we are. Yet, we forget that we are.

A spiritual path is a way of remembering ourselves, not the illusory self we have come to think we are. We cannot think that we are. The unreal self is merely thought, as effervescent as dew. So, we progressively release what we added to ourselves - better, tried to. The loss of what we are not is the return to that we are. The illusions dissolve in the Light, and our Natural Radiance shines forth.

Being in a community of like practitioners seeking this remembrance of our True Face is helpful. Our society has little encouraging us to return home - our True Face. In a sense, popular culture is designed for us to try to live something we cannot be - to live in forgetfulness. We are offered a wide array of cosmetics, including promoted as spiritual. Yet, what is added to our True Face only covers our True Face. Trying to be a criminal or a saint are both diversions from that we are.

* * *

A Christian friend asked the Sage, "If Jesus came to us today, what do you think he would teach us?" "How to be human," replied the Sage.

*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."

* * *

Our True Face, or True Self, is not opposed to humanness; it is the fulfillment of humanness. Spirituality, however, is often seen as an escape from humanness, as though being human is bland, pedestrian. Spirituality is not an escape but an inscape. Inscape is a way of saying deeper, or to a more subtle insight, more wholly into our humanness.

* * *

Jesus taught, "Be whole as your Father in the heavens (or, skies; heavenly father) is whole" (Gospel of Matthew 5.48). The King James Version reads "perfect" for my "whole." The Greek, which the English reading derives from, means "whole." Hence, wholeness, being whole, includes humanness as an aspect of what Tibetan Buddhists call Natural Great Perfection. This Face is not merely human but includes it. This perfection is not moral but refers to our shared essential nature. Calling action right or wrong, good or bad, righteous or unrighteous... no matter what you do, it cannot deface your True Face. And your True Face is our True Face, for there is only one Face.

* * *

Chan Buddhist abbot, Mazu Daoyi (709-788), visited the place of his childhood. He received a warm welcome. But an aged woman, who used to be his next-door neighbor, said, "I thought that the visit of some extraordinary person caused all the commotion. Instead, it's none other than that little chap who is the son of Ma, the garbage collector."

After hearing this, Mazu penned the following poem -

I advise you not to return to your native place
for no one can be a sage in his own home.
This old woman by the side of the brook
still calls me the garbage man's son!

The abbot uses the opportunity to employ humor in teaching us a lesson. His older neighbor was not taken in by what he appeared to have become. I can imagine Mazu was delighted, maybe relieved, that at least one person from his homeplace could recognize him for who he was and is, not how he had become esteemed.

To be seen as a human among humans can be a relief. It invites us to relax and drop the load of being or trying to be something special. When you know that you are no one, you are free from trying to be someone. The key for us is not to be deluded by what we seem to have become or assume the role of trying to be special in some way.

* * *

We may appear to have become something we were not before, for we have grown spiritually. In a sense, this is true, but only when we honor the relative self. That self - with a history, given a name, which needs oxygen and food and water, aging ... - has been enhanced, becoming more itself, but that self has not become another self, not even a better, more righteous, or more enlightened self.

* * *

My 'deceased' mother complimented me with words I cherish. These words remind me not to try to think that I am other than others. On a visit home and after I had accomplished much professionally and educationally, she said something to the effect, "Brian, whatever you accomplish, you never let it change you. You never think you are better than others." We all need someone in our life who reminds us that we are special in being nothing special. My mother's words and example inspire me to remain humble - not more, not less than I am; not more, not less than anyone.

* * *

Finally, over time, we emerge to have no desire to be spiritual. "Spiritual" is another illusion, as is "enlightened," "liberated," and "saved." These words are helpful as pointers, signs along the way. When they serve their purpose, they lose their attraction. We are no longer drawn to being spiritual and, finally, being anything. Even the idea of being human is seen as a sign that can only hint at an aspect of our wholeness. In silence, we proclaim most clearly that we are. And, oddly, in returning to ourselves, we discover we could never have left ourselves in the first place.

* * *

*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2022.

*Use of photography is allowed accompanied by credit given to Brian K. Wilcox and notation of title and place of the photograph.

*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse.

 

Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > The True Face

©Brian Wilcox 2024