Question: The music video for “Who Dat Boy?” is pretty gruesome. It starts off with Tyler the Creator as some kind of mad scientist whose experiment accidentally explodes and blows off a piece of his face. This is perfect for Halloween. But, what does this have to do with awakening or the Path of Non-separation?
Michael Richardson-Borne: Yes, well, we are all in a position where losing face is just what the doctor ordered. Blowing off a piece of your face is a perfect metaphor for questioning the separate self and seeing through a handful of the identity attachments that make up your personal face, what I also call the “false face.” Disidentifying from your tight grip on the concepts that define your false face requires an unexpected spontaneous explosion. But your projection on this potential explosion is one of fear rather than an intuition that it is the very act of love you are looking for that will initiate the Path of Non-separation, a roadmap to reconnecting with your true being.
The culture of separation doesn’t realize that the experiments to initiate these kinds of explosions are available in every moment. So rather than recognizing this as an opportunity to remove unnecessary attachment, the fear of explosion is used to reinforce the false face so that the separative nature of our world is enhanced and can proceed without question. The separate self’s fear of losing face is a mechanism for saving face – and this attachment to saving face is the unseen starting point of our global culture’s divided existence.
From the Path of Non-separation, blowing off a piece of the false face is the equivalent of removing a few more stories that define the separate self and perpetuate your separative identity. It’s a step-wise removal of the accumulated narrative that functions as your lens of separation and mercilessly keeps you locked in an invisible tribal worldview no matter how open and loving you believe you are.
Losing your face completely or understanding what is living your false face while being lived into the world as a “blank face” that only sees other blank faces who are reflections of consciousness, your true being, is what this video has to do with awakening.
Remember, every object, including this video, that arises in consciousness is a pointer to awakening. The entire culture of separation is an invitation to see through the false face. Every experience of the self is an opportunity to question your addiction to saving face.
Q: How does one remove their face or lose face?
MR-B: By understanding the nature of the stories that the separate self is attached to. By understanding what the stories are that make up your lens of separation. And, then, by understanding what the original story of separative beingness is – a story that happened to you without you noticing. By understanding that the mind and the body are resting in an underlying awareness. By questioning all stories that enter the mind and inquiring into the awareness that is effortlessly watching the mind. By understanding what composes the false face and by locating the assumption that is the structural foundation for this composition to begin.
When the personal face, or false face, is no longer interested in the mind’s particulars, it is seen that an impersonal face remains. This is what most people do not understand on an experiential level as they are still playing hide and seek with the mind’s distractions.
Q: But why should I want to lose face?
MR-B: You shouldn’t. What is happening here is a living invitation to question the nature of the “I” that could possibly want anything. It’s a living invitation to question the false face as an opening exercise in the Path of Non-separation. Losing face is not a self-authored movement that leads to any sort of advantage for the separate self – it is not a credential that the separate self can authentically claim as its own.
The Path of Non-separation begins when one confronts the inquiry into the primary assumption of humanity being the belief in a separate self. Questioning this assumption is the beginning of losing face, the beginning of breaking free from a life controlled by the belief in a false face.
Q: What is this “false face” you keep mentioning?
MR-B: It’s the contracted identity that is projecting a false face on me right now while assuming its own version of a false face. Because you don’t recognize the impersonal, what is happening for you is the personal talking to the personal rather than the impersonal being lived as the impersonal.
A blank face is being lived by consciousness right in front of you. You are the same, but believe that you are a false face that possesses consciousness and that you are in complete control of your questions to the others outside of yourself.
You are a self-authored invitation to nurture the culture of separation and are looking for reassurance that the attachment to a false face is our unseen agreement. Rather than agree, I am a lived invitation to question the culture of separation and do not provide reassurance for the false face or confirm the agreement that the false face is our established norm. We are both being lived by and as consciousness.
Q: What does losing this false face have to do with finding the True Self or non-separation?
MR-B: This question is the same as your opening inquiry where you asked what the video had to do with awakening. My answer is the same – everything has to do with awakening. Everything that is perceived as outside of the self is a pointer to turn within. All movements of the mind are also outside of the self and pointers to turn within. This turning within is the initial action of self-inquiry that puts one on a path to realize non-separation.
Remember this: when you believe that you are a self-authoring individual with a distinct face that the society outside of yourself is in relationship with, you are believing in the opposite of “not separate.” In reality, you are the totality with a blank face and the society is being lived by the very pre-existing unity that is living what you think of as your separate existence or personal life.
One must lose face before re-discovering the totality, one’s original face or non-separation. Losing face is remembering one’s original face.
Q: What do you mean by original face?
Original face is the face that lives your false face. Original face is the face that your false face is a reflection of. Original face is the impersonal face you remember when your human face is left behind as that which encapsulates your sole identity. It’s the face that existed before the objects of body and mind happened to you and created a trellis for the vines of the particular to wrap around. It’s the impersonal existence of being that includes the personal.
Q: So, are you saying that “losing face” is the same as losing my personality? If so, how will I act in the world? Will I become a completely different person?
MR-B: Before I answer the question, let’s take a look at the culture of separation’s definition of personality which is this – “the aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others.”
Who is this someone that is in possession of character? Who is this someone that presents this character? Who is this someone that is perceived by others? These are the questions to ask rather than worrying about if this someone will behave in the manner in which you are attached.
When you ask if you will become a completely different person, my question is this – when an illusion merely becomes a different illusion, why is there concern about how this illusion acts in an external world that can only exist if the primary illusion exists?
Becoming a different person is just swapping one collection of stories for another – but neither of these stories is who you truly are. The root word for personality is “persona” which is Latin for mask or a character played by an actor. Personality is an actor playing a role that is disconnected from your true being.
The problem is that the separate self doesn’t know it has a mask on and doesn’t know that what it thinks of as the “real world” is just a decrepit stage in a remote high school gymnasium where one plays out the role of a character starring in a tragedy that is viewed by the culture at large as the status quo comedy of a human life. Losing face enables one to see they are spending the entirety of their lives on this confined high school gymnasium stage and reveals that the backdrop of the set is actually a larger curtain that opens to the impersonal.
Q: You keep saying “lose face” – but in this video, Tyler the Creator actually gets a new face or “gains face”…
MR-B: So, one face was damaged or blown off as you put it – and rather than letting it fall all of the way off, immediate action was taken to replace the face, to gain a new “false face.” This is indicative of the lengths the separate self will go to save face and to continue its dream-like existence as a separate self.
This is how the culture of separation works – changing one face for another in an endless cycle of separation where individuals believe they are collections of bones, tendons, and muscles intermingled with a slew of concepts.
So let me say it again. Losing face is remembering your original face. Remembering your original face is non-separation.