In the Eastern Zen tradition, wisdom teachers often offer students a “koan”—a challenging question or statement that encourages reflection that will lead to a higher state of understanding or awareness about ourselves, God, and life.
One koan states, “Show me your original face before you were born.”
This phrase asks us to stretch towards our real and authentic self—the self we were before we were born. Through this process, we transcend our acquired “database” of thoughts and beliefs.
We let go of everything others have told us about God and ourselves. We let go of our “false face”—those beliefs and assumptions about who we think we are and who God is—mistaken beliefs that cause us pain and suffering.
By recalling our original face before we were born, we experience ourselves as we truly are. We remember our true face—who we were (and still are) before we were shaped and crafted by life experiences.
We can return to our original face—a place of inner peace and well-being—as we learn to let go of our “false face.” To do so, we must remember who we were before we were born.
Making It Real
“Show me your original face before you were born.” I admit these words feel more like a mind bender than a wisdom teacher.
It’s a nice phrase, but how do we apply it to our lives? How do we make it real so we can rediscover our face before we were born?
Perhaps if we let go of our rational thinking minds, which try to wrap themselves around the phrase and get lost in overthinking, and instead let our imaginations have their way with us, we can let the koan come to life. We can experience the wisdom it offers us.
Here’s a guided meditation that invites us to set aside our overthinking minds and let our imaginations play with the koan, allowing it to evoke life-giving images.
(You can listen to the audio version of the meditation by clicking here).
Imagine there was moment when the God of Love birthed you into creation. In an eternal millisecond he leaned down, scooped a small clump of earth into his hand, blew Divine Breath into the heap, and poof! you were born. You were face to face with God.
In your imagination, recall what your original face looked like. Was it soft? Innocent? Was it round? Filled with a stardust smile? How do you remember your face in that moment after you were born? Let an image arise within your heart.
Next, recall what God’s face looked like. Did the Creator’s eyes beam with radiant love? Did joy fill his face as he marveled at who he’d just created? Did his face shimmer with pride as he rejoiced in you—the unique being he’d brought to life?
Then imagine as you sat face to face with God, he offered you a choice. You could stay there in heaven, live as an angel helping the Creator encourage people on earth and bringing them God’s divine messages.
Or, you could take on a human body and go to Earth. There, you’d enter the school of life. Your sole purpose would be to learn how to love yourself, God, and others, and to bring about more creative love in the universe.
You sat for a moment and pondered these options. After a few minutes, you decided you’d like to experience life on Earth as a human.
The Creator smiled. He needed more people to enter Earth and co-create with him, bringing about more love in the world.
In that instant, God wrapped a physical body around your heavenly soul.
Then, before you set out for the school of life on Earth, the Creator touched your heart and poof! lit a small flame in it. He told you the light within you was an eternal lamp connecting your human heart with his, allowing you to access divine wisdom and guidance whenever you needed it while on Earth.
Then God kissed you on the forehead, anointed your body with holy oil as an original blessing, proclaimed that you were good, and sent you off to Earth.
Sit and savor whatever images rise in you as you experience this guided meditation.
As you “remember,” consider three images: your original face, God’s original face, and the light the Creator placed within your heart.
Let these images be as real or as mysterious as they need to be. Savor them like the taste of delicious tea. Let them play in you. Let the Creator offer you what you need. Receive the gift God gives you with an open heart.
Then consider journaling, painting, drawing, or some other creative way to symbolize what these three images evoke in you.
Let the Creator etch them into your heart as a sacred place where you and the Divine dwell.
When you get tossed and turned by the noise and chaos of life on Earth, leave the distractions of the world and return to your heart—to your inner home—and let the Inner Light guide you, comfort you, and remind you of your and God’s faces—the ones you saw before you were born.
—brian j plachta
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