Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Our Original Face

 
 

The Original Face

A Return to Innocence

Sep 28, 2021

Saying For Today: The spiritual path often begins for us when we find unbearable living with this false, facile identity. A longing ripens - that we are not longs to know that it is.


Common Marjoram

'Common Marjoram'

NOTE: For many persons, the psychological effort to know themselves is important. Yet, this is a preparation for some to go beyond the psychological. The self found in the mind is of the mind, bearing the nature of fantasy. What happens when you have worked hard at knowing yourself, and you know there is more? That more leads many beyond mind to spirit, or Spirit - so, one takes seriously a spiritual wisdom path. Search all we want in the mind, mind is all we will find. So, spirituality is foremost not about becoming a better self but transcending the self that could even think of trying to find itself or be better.

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In a lucid dream after an emotionally painful time, a healer came to me and said, "Here is a tool to dig with. When you see yourself, add nothing from the past."

*Zenju Earthlyn Manuel. Sanctuary: A Meditation on Home, Homelessness, and Belonging.

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A student sat with the Sage. After bowing in respect, he said, "I came here to find myself. But something must be wrong. If anything, I'm farther away from finding myself. What should I do?" Said the Sage, "Keep trying to find yourself until you can't tolerate trying to find yourself. Then, you will appear."

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

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In my mid-40s, I looked into a mirror, as I had done hundreds, possibly thousands, of times. I was surprised to see someone I had never seen. I continued to look at a face time had not touched. This face had no past, as did the face I had seen for decades. "Innocence" is the best word I can arrive at to indicate what the face communicated to me.

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Buddhism refers to our "Original Face." This face is the face before your face, my face, anyone's face. This Original Face is really not a face at all. When we look at our face in a mirror, what we see is conditioned by the past. Also, we see a face that was born and will die. Yet, that we are is an uncaused, unconditioned presence, or beingness. The Original Face is a pure Effulgence.

Why is the Original Face so important for us? One reason is that when known, it becomes our refuge. Innocence becomes a sanctuary.

When I looked in the mirror, I saw a being free of guilt. My face had been covered with guilt, the fruition of a past of teachings that love shames and punishes us into submission. Guilt was in the culture of my upbringing; religion was a way to be guilt-tripped into admitting how sinful I was.

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The Original Face teaching is similar to the Christian teaching of the Image of God. Many Christian sects teach we have lost that first Image - the likeness to Spirit stamped upon us, so to speak. It needs to be restored through an act of grace. Buddhist teaching is similar. We do not experience our Original Face. Yet, it is still there. That Face does not need restoring to us. And, yes, the Innocence arises again by grace, by applying skillful means to dissolve the obscurations preventing realizing that we are.

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Hence, in Buddhist wisdom, we are living an illusion - a real illusion, but an illusion. We believe we are a character with a human face. Stepping outside of the past, we see our innocence again. We see we are not a personality, so not a person - we are that which impersonates. Even more, we see beyond our being innocent; we are Innocence. If this meant being good or righteous or spiritual or enlightened, it would still be in time, obscured by the past, a role we would be playing, another character performing a part. The Original Face is outside time, so not touched by anything happening in time. The spiritual path often begins for us when we find unbearable living with this false, facile identity. A longing ripens - that we are not longs to know that it is.

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This Face is home. We can return to it at any moment, for it has never left. This ever-present Presence, oft neglected, is a reason returning again and again to the present is important. Home is always here. And the suffering of leaving ourselves is a reminder to return to ourselves.

We long to see ourselves. And being with another or others who see us inspires us to return home. Even one look from another can remind us of our Original Face. And that is the role of relationships - to remind each other of who we are, rather than what we have been socialized to believe we are. Really, we cannot even believe in our Original Face, but in knowing it, it knows.

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* Brian K. Wilcox, 2021

*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. The book consists of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.

 

Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Our Original Face

©Brian Wilcox 2022