The most exhausting burden is a mask
If we see someone carrying a huge burden on their back, we may feel pity for them. Yet we ourselves may be carrying a heavier burden, albeit invisible – the burden of a mask.
Physical masks of the kind worn during Halloween don’t weigh much. But the masks that weigh us down are subtler; they are the appearances that we put on before the world. Despite being stressed or distressed, we may act jolly. Despite having tense family relationships, we may pretend that our family life is fine. Despite battling privately with impurities, we may put on a façade of purity. Putting on such masks exhausts us because covering things up requires a herculean effort.
Then, should we just be glum, radiating depression all around? No, we can and should be cheerful and positive while striving to set things right. Still, during the interim, we need at least a few people who accept us as we are. And we need the courage to lower our masks with them.
At times, we may have to perform. But we can’t be round-the-clock performers; no one can be. Even professional performers need breaks – that’s why movie stars treasure their privacy.
On the spiritual path, masks can deprive us of genuine growth. The Bhagavad-gita (03.06) cautions that those who mask their sensuality with a façade of spirituality deceive themselves; they stay spiritually stagnant or may even regress.
How, then, can we grow spiritually? First, remove our masks before some trustworthy friends by humbly admitting the gap between our precept and our practice. Second, strive diligently to bridge that gap by practicing the purificatory process of bhakti-yoga.
By such self-acceptance and devotional diligence, we can peacefully and purposefully take small but significant steps towards realizing our divine potential as parts of the supreme divinity, thereby transcending the need for masks.
Think it over:
- What kind of subtle masks do we often wear?
- Does removing our masks mean that we stay constantly glum?
- How can we change ourselves?
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