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Please note, you can access all previous explanatory and inspirational WTM Emails at the end of this email. Wednesday’s explanatory emails and Friday’s inspirational emails are numbered in order of appearance, so one is odd and the other even numbered.

 

This is inspirational WTM Email 30

 

Ceremonial masks reveal the truth about our human condition

 

Ceremonial masks, which have been used in almost all cultures, are extremely revealing of the human condition.

 

Fang mask, Gabon, Africa, c. 19th century, the Pavillon des Sessions in Louvre Museum

Fang mask, Gabon, Africa, c. 19th century,
the Pavillon des Sessions in Louvre Museum

Bhairav Mask, Nepal

Bhairav Mask, Nepal

 

As has been described at length in these emails, and in all of Jeremy Griffith’s work, the overall essential feature of the human journey since we first became conscious is that of the accumulation of knowledge at the expense of our innocent soul. Thus the two fundamental aspects of the human condition are the tragic repression of our original all-loving and all-sensitive instinctive self or soul because of its unjust condemnation of our conscious self, and the extremely upset, angry state of the conscious thinking egoic intellect for being so unjustly condemned.

 

 

In our day to day human-condition-avoiding, Plato’s-cave-hiding lives, the truth of the extent to which our soul has been brutally repressed has been hidden from view. Similarly, the volcanic depths of the anger of our conscious mind has also been mostly restrained and contained and thus also not often revealed. We learnt to be, as we say, civilised; we tried not to let the true extent of our corrupted, upset state show. We went to great lengths to conceal our extremely tortured, disfigured, soul-dead, furiously angry real human condition. The insecurity of our situation even became so extreme that, as was described in WTM Email 29 on Pseudo Idealism, people took up pseudo idealistic causes to delude themselves they weren’t upset at all!

 

‘Here, my poor friend, have some food so I can feel good.’

‘Here, my poor friend, have some food so I can feel good.’

 

While this denial of the truth of our immensely corrupted condition saved the upset human race from unbearable self-confrontation, the extreme dishonesty, artificiality and superficiality of living that way could also become unbearable psychologically and then physically sickening in fact, at which point some purging, cathartic, exorcising honesty was needed. The wearing of masks that revealed the true depth of how either soul-dead or ferociously angry we upset humans had become was a powerfully effective way of bringing some relieving, therapeutic honesty to our lives. It comes as little surprise then that truth-revealing masks have been used in the ceremonies of almost all cultures.

 

The Greeks call masks ‘ekstasis’, a word which means ‘to stand outside oneself’. It follows that when we stood outside our self we were, in turn, looking into our self and seeing the real devastation that the psychiatrist R.D. Laing spoke of when he referred to the ‘fifty feet of solid concrete’ that now exists between us and our original soulful true self. In some of the most honest writing ever seen, Laing wrote, ‘Our alienation goes to the roots…We are born into a world where alienation awaits us. We are potentially men, but are in an alienated state…the ordinary person is a shrivelled, desiccated fragment of what a person can be. As adults, we have forgotten most of our childhood, not only its contents but its flavour; as men of the world, we hardly know of the existence of the inner world…The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man…​between us and It [our true selves or soul] there is a veil which is more like fifty feet of solid concrete…​The outer divorced from any illumination from the inner is in a state of darkness. We are in an age of darkness…We are all murderers and prostitutes…​We are bemused and crazed creatures, strangers to our true selves, to one another’ (see par. 123 of FREEDOM).

 

The word ‘mask’ is actually derived from the term ‘msk’, which was used in the middle Egyptian period to denote ‘second skin’. That ‘second skin’ that the mask sought to exorcise was our soul-corrupted, immensely upset, human-condition-afflicted real state that Laing described above as being a ‘shrivelled, desiccated fragment of what a person can be’. Masks allowed the wearer to momentarily relieve themselves of their extremely dishonest everyday masquerade of being a secure, sound, well-adjusted, happy person, and let the truth out, which could be very therapeutic for both the wearer and the observer.

 

By far the most common variety of masks are those that reveal the true extent of the, in truth, volcanic, demonic anger inside of humans. The right-hand mask above from Nepal is one example, as are the following from New Zealand, New Guinea and Mexico respectively.

 

Maori Koruru (gable mask), New Zealand

Maori Koruru (gable mask), New Zealand

 

“Mudman”, Asaro Valley, Papua New Guinea,photo by David Austin

“Mudman”, Asaro Valley, Papua New Guinea,
photo by David Austin

‘Day of the Dead’ Skull Mask, Mexico, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

‘Day of the Dead’ Skull Mask, Mexico,
National Museum of Anthropology,
Mexico City

 

Masks that focused on revealing and exorcising the other aspect in the duality of the human condition, of the extent of the devastation of our cooperative, all-loving and all-sensitive original instinctive self or soul (you can read about how we acquired our moral soul in the explanatory WTM Email 21), were always going to be rarer than masks that revealed the extent of our intellect’s anger. This is because the more upset humans became, the more we replaced any sensitive, inward-focusing, introspective awareness and concern about our loss of soulful innocence with a need to get even with the world for its unjust condemnation, at which point outward-focusing, egocentric ferocious anger became the dominant concern and orientation of life which is why masks that exorcise ferocious anger predominated. Put simply, the more upset we humans became, the less we wanted to be reminded of how soul-dead we had become, which means that any masks that did reveal how estranged or alienated from our soul we humans have become were going to be few and far between. However, there are some truly extraordinarily honest masks that reveal the extent of our soul-deadness, and, not surprisingly, these were made by more innocent, less egocentric and more truthful races, such as the ‘Fang’ mask at the start of this email and the masks below, all of which were made by Bantu tribes in central Africa. (The differences in levels of upset between races is a truth that can at last be safely admitted now that the upset state of the human condition has been explained and defended. A coming WTM Email will talk about this ability to be honest about differences in alienation that ends all prejudices, such as racism.)

 

Lega Bwami masks, Congo, Africa, c. 1915-1945collection of David Norden, Belgium

Lega Bwami masks, Congo, Africa, c. 1915-1945
collection of David Norden, Belgium

 

Ivory Lega mask,Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium,acquired 1939; collected Maniema, Congo

Ivory Lega mask,
Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium, acquired 1939; collected Maniema, Congo

Wooden Chokwe mask,Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium,acquired 1954; collected Kwilu, Congo

Wooden Chokwe mask,
Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium,
acquired 1954; collected Kwilu, Congo

 

Wooden Pende mask,Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium,acquired 1959; collected Kwilu, Congo

Wooden Pende mask,
Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium, acquired 1959; collected Kwilu, Congo

Wooden Woyo mask, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium,acquired 1919; collected Bas-Congo, Congo

Wooden Woyo mask,
Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium, acquired 1919; collected Bas-Congo, Congo

 

Just how deeply these masks affect us when we look at them is a measure of how extraordinarily revealing they are of the true extent of the inner devastation, loneliness, emptiness and sadness of the human race’s now 2-million-year soul-repressed and soul-devastated condition. We are such miserable wrecks of what a human could and ideally should be (and will be again now that the human condition is solved), so it is relieving for our true self to see such honesty. Indeed, the therapeutic, exorcising power of these masks from the Congo region of Africa has led them to become considered amongst the finest creations in the art world. A Fang mask very similar to the one shown at the start of this email sold for around $US7 million in 2006 (Lot 193, Vérité auction, Paris, Jun. 2006).

 

It is no wonder some of the world’s greatest artists have been influenced by these African masks. A 2010 documentary, titled Paris: The Luminous Years, describes how ‘The walls of his [Pablo Picasso’s] studio were hung with African masks…There was severe competition in those days between [the great artists] Picasso, Derain, Matisse and Braque, as to who could discover the most beautiful African heads. [As Braque said] Negro masks open new horizons to me. They put me in touch with things instinctive.’ And indeed, Picasso said he experienced a ‘revelation’ (Picasso, Rubin & Fluegel, 1980, p.87) while viewing African art at a Paris museum and his painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (see image below) was the first work to result from that inspiration. Picasso also perfectly understood the healing value of masks, saying, ‘The [African] masks were not simply sculptures like any other. Not at all. They were magic objects…They were weapons. To help people stop being ruled by spirits, to free themselves. Tools. If we give a form to these spirits, we become free…I understood why I became a painter…Les Demoiselles d’Avignon must have come to me that very day [when I first saw the African masks], but not at all because of the forms; because it was my first exorcism painting’ (André Breton, Oeuvres Completes, ed. M. Bonnet, 1988).

 

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso, 1907

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso, 1907

 

At this point it should be reiterated that while humans have been as torturously alienated as the mask-makers have revealed, this is not the full story about humans. As has been emphasised throughout all of these emails, and in all of Jeremy Griffith’s work, the greater truth is that humans have also been the most courageous, heroic, successful and meaningful creatures to ever exist on Earth. We are not the awful beings we appeared to be; rather, given the magnificence of our fully conscious mind, nature’s greatest invention, and all the injustice we humans have had to endure for some two million years, we fully deserve to be considered divine beings.

 

So although we had to pay the price of becoming immensely upset/ corrupted/ alienated/ soul-dead, we humans ARE the heroes of the story of life on Earth. Furthermore, as a result of finding this greater dignifying understanding of the human condition, our species’ tortured state of alienation is about to end, and virtually overnight well, in only a number of decades which, in the scheme of things, is a very short time because being able to understand the human condition makes it possible for everyone to finally escape the tortured human-condition-afflicted state and immediately fully participate in a glorious, truthful, sun-filled, effectively alienation-free world. And in only a few generations’ time the human race will be actually alienation-free and fully soul-rehabilitated.

 

The human race is finally coming home to wholeness and happiness!

 

William Blake’s Cringing in Terror (c.1794-96) left, and Albion Arose (c. 1794-96) right

William Blake’s Cringing in Terror (c.1794-96) left, and Albion Arose (c. 1794-96) right

 

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Read Jeremy Griffith’s breakthrough redeeming explanation of the human condition in chapter 1 of FREEDOM; and much more about these ceremonial masks and the tribes that created them in Freedom: Expanded, which is where the content of this WTM Email was drawn.

 

Discussion or comment on this email is welcomed see below.

 

 

See all previous WTM Emails

 

(Note, Wednesday’s explanatory emails and Friday’s inspirational emails are numbered in order of appearance, so one is odd and the other even numbered.)

 

Wednesday’s explanatory WTM Email 1 Why solving the human condition solves everything | 3 The false ‘savage instincts’ excuse | 5 The explanation of the human condition | 7 The transformation of the human race | 9 The historic fear of the human condition | 11 Ending the stalled state of biology | 13 One hour introductory talk | 15 FREEDOM chapter synopses | 17 Commendations | 19 Are humans innately and unchangeably brutal? | 21 How did we humans acquire our altruistic moral conscience? | 23 The integrative meaning of existence | 25 How did consciousness emerge in humans? | 27 Understanding the human condition ends the polarised world of politics | 29 The march of pseudo idealism to terminal alienation

 

Friday’s inspirational WTM Email 2 WTM Centres opening everywhere | 4 Can conflict ever end? | 6 ‘This is the real liberation of women’ | 8 Is God real? | 10 Anne Frank’s faith in human goodness fulfilled | 12 Bonobos nurtured cooperativeness | 14 Understanding millennials | 16 Women’s beauty | 18 Prophetic songs | 20 ‘How this liberated me from racism’ | 22 Art’s agony and ecstasy | 24 Survey seeking feedback | 26 The meaning of superhero and disaster films | 28 Science’s scorn of religion

 

These emails were composed during 2017 by Jeremy Griffith, Damon Isherwood,
Fiona Cullen-Ward & Brony FitzGerald at the Sydney WTM Centre.

 

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Please note, we encourage constructive discussion about this information and so reserve the right to moderate or decline posts that we feel are not relevant or inappropriate. In particular, with the subject of the human condition being so confronting, malice can easily occur, and where comments are deemed to be motivated not by objectivity but by malice, they will be declined. It has to be appreciated that the possibility of malice toward this subject matter is very real, and we have a responsibility to manage that as best we can.

5 Comments

  1. Asseged G on May 6, 2017 at 1:03 am

    yes they are power full, masks . but we all have different reflection than the reality of them. i have learned.

  2. Michael Avickson on May 3, 2017 at 3:17 am

    I heaved a sight of relief when I read : The human race is finally coming home to wholeness and happiness! Oh, what a good news! I doff my hat for the insightful works and thank all for their ingenuity. Thank you for being dissatisfied with the human condition and the decision to dig up the anomaly and scientifically analyse it in an attempt to solve it. But I believe it is solvable because where there is a will there is a way. Kudos to you all.

  3. nomad on May 2, 2017 at 11:24 am

    How powerful are those ‘sad’ masks! Forces me to be honest. So sobering.

  4. RJ on April 29, 2017 at 11:42 am

    This blog post is one snippet of just how fascinating and enthralling ‘Freedom’ is for me! These masks are so deeply affecting. When I first saw them and read about the truth of what they reveal I felt like printing a particular one out and wearing it around and having a tribal dance!! I can feel how much they reach in past our civilised facade to both of these devastated parts of ourselves. How truly remarkable that we can understand this and heal and reconcile these butchered selves inside each one of us and end up as the comment above from Mon says, in wholeness and happiness. It is so glorious where humanity is at.

  5. Mon on April 29, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Wholeness and happiness indeed! Thank you for these stunningly insightful and helpful emails. It is absolutely fascinating to learn of the significance of these masks and the therapeutic honesty they brought to our alienated selves. The relief, true healing and love we can access now through being able to truly understand our lives and the meaning and beauty behind our immensely heroic, soul-devastated condition is just more than the heart can bear sometimes!