Jesus has captured so many processes for us with such clarity – his discussion of the third way of handling an upset (by dissolving it with awareness) is a classic for me. (1)
Now here he gives a helpful description of a constructed self:
“Yes, of course there are moments of joy, of pleasure, but they are but brief and infrequent rewards for your good behavior, or so it often seems. And yet most of you know that good behavior has little to do with rewards – the sun shines and the rain rains on everyone.
“As small children it was suggested to you that this was the way the world works, but as you grew and matured it became obvious to the majority that this was most definitely not the case. Nevertheless, because you had been so well trained to behave well – frequent punishment and shaming for misbehaving, infrequent rewards for exceptionally good behavior – you do tend to put on a mask or a front of good behavior that is culturally and socially acceptable. Beneath that mask you may fume, rage, or sink into depression.” (2)
“A mask or a front of good behavior.” That mask or front is like the facade of a building. Hidden behind it are many rooms, each containing a special strategy or tactic for getting what we want from the situation, what we think we need to survive.
And underneath it all, we grumble and rage and feel ashamed and depressed. Is that not exactly how it is? It was for me.
The constructed self has a mask, front or facade, interests, agendas, strategies, tactics, rackets, numbers, likes, dislikes, beliefs, opinions, positions, leanings – everything stored in memory and ready to be used to get what we want from the situation.
We operate, not genuinely but strategically, all of it contrived; none of it natural. None proceeds from our essence.
None helps us to know who we are, except in the negation and leaving of it. And none of it is what AAM would call “of love.”
On the contrary, the constructed self, our facade, is held together by fear.
Mostly we fear that we won’t survive. Of course this is a groundless fear. We’re all eternal beings. We’re all emanations of God.
All other fears run a distant second. Way behind the fear of extinction is the fear of injury, of abandonment by loved ones, of loss of useful, expensive or prized possessions, of the loss of anything our partners or family value, which we’d have to replace, etc.
Fear lessens the more distant the thing or possession is to us.
Out of the fear that we won’t survive, we construct an image of ourselves which we project out into the world, like an actor on a stage, strutting, speaking our lines, and playing our part.
We test our lines out in lunch-room conversations (3) with friends and colleagues. When we get our lines, gestures and storyline down pat, we take our act on the road. We’re genuinly selling snake oil, all to win social acceptance and a furtherance of our goals.
Everybody else around us is doing much the same. We’re all selling and buying images of ourselves. We criticize people to boost ourselves up, and always add the strategic statement, “present company excepted” to the person standing before us, whom we may then grumble about to someone else perhaps twenty minutes later. There’s no loyalty and no love in our beliefs or behavior.
We enact treaties with and against one another, the object being to always “get ahead” (conceived of in material terms).
We justify it all as “social grease.” But in effect, it’s a total selling of ourselves down the illusory river. As long as we speak from behind our constructed self, we’re not present. There’s no here and now. There’s only then in the past and then in the future.
In fact it’s worse: There’s only the past in the past and the past in the future.
We cannot build a lasting foundation on the sands of a constructed self, a self-image, or a social mask. Nothing false can or will stand and these facades are false.
So at some point in our lives, we face the situation where we have to step out from behind them or lose every spark of aliveness.
It’s so hard to be the first to do it. And if no one joins us, it can be so lonely and dismaying. Most people compromise or abandon their intention rather than face being ostracized or left behind by the herd.
Being around a person being authentic when all around are being inauthentic can pose difficult choices for other people – to join us and leave the crowd or not to join us and handle the discomfort that usually arises. Most people don’t seem to want to be shaken loose from a comfortable lethargy. However the rising energies are doing just that.
For me at least the discussion of being authentic in the midst of inauthenticity has always been difficult – because of the way I was framing it. There was one element which transforms everything that I was totally unaware of then, which I’m now aware of.
If the one being authentic does so lovingly, I think then that being authentic while everyone else is being inauthentic can be made to work. I’m not so good at this yet. Definitely still learning – or maybe I should say “unlearning” – but an eager student.
Let’s face it. Sooner or later, we’ll have to come out from behind these masks and fronts. It’s going to be hard for some in the beginning but, after having said goodbye to all the fakery, we can now just be ourselves, together. That makes everything easier.
The collective love that will be liberated when groups of us rest in authenticity with each other is, I’d imagine, immense.
(1) “Jeshua via Pamela Kribbe: The Third Way,” Jan. 26, 2014, c2012, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2014/01/26/jeshua-the-third-way/.
(2) “Jesus: The Purpose of your Lives is to Uncover or Rediscover your Own Creative Abilities,” channelled by John Smallman, April 21, 2015 at https://johnsmallman2.wordpress.com/
(3) I call them howdido (“How did I do?”) conversations. They are certainly self-serving.
We seek the approval of others for our conduct, much of it of a resist, resent, revenge modality. Once we get feedback from others on where our story falls down and dress it up so that it passes social muster, we then make that well-designed story of our triumphs and gains our personal history, even though it may not at all resemble what actually happened.