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How to drop all fakeness and masks? || (2018)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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You asked me how I became a mad man. It happened thus: one day, long before many Gods were born, I woke up from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen- the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives- I ran maskless through the crowding streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves!”

Men and women laughed at me and some ran into their houses in the fear of me.

And when I reached the marketplace, a youth standing on a house-top cried. “He is a madman.”

I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time, the sun-kissed my own naked face, and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.” And thus I became a mad man.

And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us to enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a thief in a jail is safe from another thief.

~ ‘The Madman’ by Khalil Gibran

Questioner: Sir, how to drop all the fakeness and masks?

Acharya Prashant: Your masks are stolen only when you are a little careless about them. How can somebody steal away your mask if you keep them safe in your deep lockers? Become a little careless. Give the thieves a chance. And if they still don’t respond to your invitation, tempt them. Hand your masks out on your gate.

It is never accidental that you lose your masks. It requires a certain frustration, a certain disappointment. You need to turn heedless. You must become unconcerned with the value of the masks. Thought comes to you and says, “Your masks can be taken away.” And you say, “Two hoots!” It’s then that somebody would support you by robbing you of your masks.

A mask that is right and tight on your face, ever heard of such a thing being stolen? Who will dare to touch you? Your mask will remain secure. You have plastered it to your face. You have used all kinds of adhesives. It is well-stuck. And you are wearing it to perfection. It’s your face now, and who will take away your face?

You must become a little forgetful. Go visit a jungle. And then because you want to watch the birds, and it’s not possible through the tiny slits of the mask; you take the mask off and you keep it under a tree. You are engrossed in watching the birds. And as the birds fly they take you further and further away from that tree. Captivated by the birds you keep following them and now it is sunset; the birds decide to go back to their homes. And it’s then you remember that you have come very further away from your mask. Now there is some possibility that the mask has been stolen by someone. You have to enable the thief, encourage the thief.

Or if you really fall in love and the one you are in love with has no taste for anything that is fake. And she says, “Masks won’t do, I need real lips.” And you say, “No, you know this is all I have. It’s quite a handsome face, isn’t it? That’s what I have been told. And I tell you, these lips are not plastic, they’re real. Let’s proceed to kiss.” She says, “No, fakeness just doesn’t go well with me. I’ll have to go. This mask thing and I don’t sit well.”

Now you have to make a choice. It’s either the mask or her. And she just won’t tolerate fakeness. So you have to pull off the mask. And then the sweet kiss turns into a long embrace and then from there you keep sinking into the depths of the memoryless state. And after many long hours of trance when you recover, you find that you have bliss and lost the masks. Some fellow came over, found you lost in union and took away the mask.

Oh, wait! Was it you who invited the theft? Was it you who didn’t want to be out of the union ever again? It feels strange in the beginning, as it felt to the man in the story. Your skin has become accustomed to protection. It has become pink and tender. When you pull off the mask, the wind touches your face for the first time, the Sun shines on your face for the first time, it feels very odd. You want to return to the safety of the mask.

It’s then that you require somebody like the youth in the story. Somebody who gives you a cute, quaint name. Then you need somebody who without repugnance, without rejection calls you ‘the mad man’. And you love them, you love your maskless face and you love your new name.

Now, who are you? You’re nobody. The masks were somebody, they are gone and you’re nobody. And there is great freedom. Why? Because the world knew only the masks. And because the world only knew the masks, it could manipulate only the masks. Your own face is so entirely new and unexpected; nobody knows it. And since nobody knows it, nobody can own, possess or comprehend it. Freedom from masks is freedom for yourself.

So, it is not a matter of luck but a matter of ‘love’. First of all, you must love something/somebody so much that you are forced to take off your masks. And then you must love your maskless state so much that you decide to remain maskless. The first step is typically is the love for the Guru or a mortal beloved. The second step is the love for Truth. The first step has been called as Ishq-e Majāzi and the second step is called Ishq-e-haqeeqi.

First of all, find someone on earth who makes you drop your masks by any means. Since you understand the language of temptation and fear, so he will have to sometimes tempt you or sometimes threaten you.

But whatever be his instruments he succeeds. You do away with your masks. But that is not sufficient, because the masks can be put back. You may still decide to return to the old masked self. Therefore then you must develop a great love for maskless nothingness. Unless you have a great love for the nothingness that your unmasked face it, you will find back your old mask or maybe new masks to put on.

Love, difficult love, demanding love! - That is what is needed. Easy love is puppy love, of no avail. May you choose a very very difficult one to fall in love with.

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