Zimmer, Dr Heinrich - On the mask
Type of Spiritual Experience
Aaaah but who is the puppeteer?
A description of the experience
Philosophies of India – Dr Heinrich Zimmer [edited by Joseph Campbell]
The term personality is derived from the Latin persona. Persona literally means the mask that is worn over the face by the actor on the Greek or Roman stage; the mask ‘through’ (per) which he ‘sounds’ (sonat) his part. The mask is what bears the features or make-up of the role, the traits of hero or heroine, servant or messenger, while the actor himself behind it remains anonymous, an unknown being intrinsically aloof from the play, constitutionally unconcerned with the enacted sufferings and passions…
The word connotes that the personality is but the mask of one’s part in the comedy or tragedy of life and not to be identified with the actor. It is not a manifestation of his true nature, but a veil……
Indian philosophy… insists upon the difference, stressing the distinction between the displayed existence of the individual and the real being of the anonymous actor, concealed, shrouded and veiled in the costumes of the play. Indeed, one of the dominant endeavours of Indian thought throughout the ages has been to develop a dependable technique for keeping a clear line between the two.
A meticulous defining of their interrelationships and their modes of collaboration, as well as practical, systematic and courageously enforced effort to break from the confines of the one into the unfathomed reaches of the other, has been carried on for ages – primarily through the numerous introspective processes of yoga.
Piercing and dissolving all the layers of the manifest personality, the relentlessly introverted consciousness cuts through the mask, and, at last discarding it in all of its stratifications, arrives at the anonymous and strangely unconcerned actor of our life.