The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Mask & the Sound of Silence

After having just read an article about how there are only about a dozen places in the U.S. left, where one can truly escape the unnatural noises so prevalent in our modern society, I'm somewhat saddened by the fact that people must work so hard anymore, just to hear themselves think, but then, maybe that's part of the problem; most of us 'think' too much! Many people pray for peace in their lives, not seeming to realizing that they themselves are the arbiters of the 'peace' they seek. Among the business of the 'day-to-day', with all its busyness & noise, it is our choice whether to get lost in all the 'hub-bub' of the everyday, or to retreat within ourselves to find the peace that we so desperately need. Coming from a religious background, as so many of us do ( of one sort or another ), I was taught to seek that peace outside myself. If only I had 'faith to move mountains', I would experience that Peace Within, the 'peace that passes all understanding'. This is true enough, I guess; many religious people have found such a peace in their hearts, through a child-like trust in an all-wise, all-powerful Being that controls their destiny. I can say, with Peace & Love in my heart, 'if it works for you, go for it!' As long as you harm none, you're all good!

The problem with thinking too much is that when we 'clear our minds' so we can think, we aren't really clearing our minds! We're simply exchanging one thought, or set of thoughts, for another. Thinking, in & of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing; in order to 'make it' in this rough & tumble world, one must be able to readily set aside one set of thoughts so they can focus on a different challenge. Then again, sometimes it's better to just follow your gut without the dangers of over-thinking it. Whether one believes, as most do, that we were created by an al-powerful, all-knowing Being, or that we are the product of past experiences ( AKA, 'evolution' ), personally speaking, of course, along with this biological vehicle, we are gifted with the ability ( ? ) to process thoughts. Thinking is a completely natural process: when we are faced with a choice, our brain immediately slips into gear, sending millions of electrical impulses through even more neuro-transmitters. Not being a scientist myself, I will proceed no further in that 'vein', but suffice it to say that the thought process is almost what one would call 'automatic', a 'knee-jerk' response!

We all wear a mask! The word 'persona', itself 'comes from the Greek word for the large masks that early Greek actors would use to portray their characters.'  As more & more people seem to be discovering, we are not just people, though that is usually how we present ourselves. This is somewhat of a rabbit-trail, but even while we seem to be noting, especially in the MSM ( Main Stream Media ) that so much ( more & more, actually ) in society seems to be based on the 'persona'; this is actually a good sign, as 'it's always darkest before the dawn', so to speak. Getting back on track, the persona itself is completely natural; it's part of our make-up. Like the Ego, the Persona is neither good nor bad; it's just not us! We can choose whether to manifest our Self through the Persona, or we can choose to use our Persona to try to make people ( including ourselves ) think we're something we're not. The more we use this 'mask' though, to portray ourselves, the greater the risk of fooling ourselves into thinking that we ARE the Persona, into identifying with it. In this day & age especially, with all its busyness & general ( unnatural ) clamor, it is difficult, to say the least, not to get sucked into this whirling vortex!

Life seems more & more to be a battle-ground ( to some, a losing battle )! This need not be! Speaking of the masks we wear; most often, we end up fighting ourselves because we have convinced ourselves ( ? ) that we are simply people, here for one purpose, to survive the battle. If along the way we can leave a goodly inheritance for our children & grandchildren, all the better, but when we identify with the Person, or Persona, we start thinking like Harry Houdini, escaping one trap only to be presented with another, 'out of the frying pan into the fire', in most cases. Some of us are lucky enough, for whatever reason, to escape all the perceived 'traps' that Life sets for us, but one has to wonder, 'is that not itself a trap?'!

Speaking of traps, we are often trapped by our own mind!  Back on the rabbit-trail, it is easy to get trapped IN our own mind as well, if we do not exercise great care. This, in relation to the Persona, Ego, etc. etc., is where one begins to identify themselves with their Mind. Ever hear the saying, 'my mind is like a steel trap'? Most, if not all people who say such things have begun to identify with the mind & thus are trapped by & in it! This becomes a prison from which, once ensconced, it is not easy to set yourself free. I say, 'set yourself free', because, as a wise man once said, 'I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it'!

When we react to what Life throws at us, which the best & brightest of us tend to do ( ? ), this is a good sign that we have been trapped by our own mind & indeed, have begun to identify with it! There is nothing wrong, in & of itself, with utilizing our Mind, 'our God-given talent', one might say, but there is the dangerous tendency to rely upon our Mind to save us from Life's many & diverse 'traps'. As I intimated, this itself is a trap, for when, as above, we allow ourselves to be lured into thinking (usually 'over-thinking' ) that it is our Mind, 'our smarts', so to speak, that have gotten us out of so many traps, we begin to identify with our Mind & thus, we become not only trapped BY it, but trapped IN it!

'As above; so below'; speaking of wise men, another wise man, animated by the same Spirit, or 'Energy' once said, 'If you want to be free, be free'. During the era of 'sex, drugs & rock 'n roll' which began in the late fifties & stretched into the seventies & even eighties, but especially in the sixties, 'free your mind' became a popular & well-used phrase. This phrase referred to the use of mind-altering drugs, which, when used properly DID have the property of expanding, not the Mind so much as the Consciousness. For this reason, many of the song lyrics that came from this era were very insightful & relayed much Truth, however acceptable or not!

However much music can relay the Beauty of Nature, though, much of the music of this era cannot exactly be considered 'natural sounds'. In fact, music, however peaceful, however soothing, is surely not what the author of the previously mentioned article had in mind when he talked about 'natural sounds'. The Music of Nature, similar to 'The Music of the Spheres', are the 'Sounds of Silence'; the babbling of a brook, the calls of the wild, trees rustling in the breeze, even the waves crashing on the shore. Although, by definition, these sounds are not, to our perception anyway, silent ( they can get very noisy, in fact ), they are, in their gentle state, peaceful, which is the meaning here.

The Sound of Silence can also refer to the stilling of our Mind, of our very thoughts. This can be achieved best through meditation, but with practice, even the practice of meditation becomes a thing of the past, for once we have found, or rediscovered that place of peace & harmony within ourselves, we no longer need to still our biological vehicle in order to be at peace. All we must do is remember who we really are; not this vehicle, not our situation: we ARE Peace & Harmony Itself!

Namaste' & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

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