The Mask of the Me-Christ: Harnessing Christ-like Courage in a Secular Age
In Jung’s famous book The Red Book, he comes to a library inside a castle, looking for a place of sanctuary and reflection. When the librarian asks him to choose a book he names The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. He debates with the librarian what it would mean to imitate Christ today. He decides that since Christ imitated no one, this would mean going one’s own way and paying the full price for creating in a way that no one has before.
Christ was one of the first individuated human beings. Whether or not he actually lived is irrelevant. What is relevant is the impact his story has had. He is one of the most revered figures in the history of mankind. Because of this, Christ-consciousness has become a symbol that lies within most people. As such, Christ inadvertently becomes the first ‘mask’ we ever wear. He was the first spiritual rebel, and donning the Mask of the Me-Christ allows for the fruition of the Absurd-hero within: the inner lover, jester, and spiritual warrior.
The donning of the Christ mask places our egos in check, which frees up the rest of our being to do what’s needed to evolve into individuation. This mask reveals to us that we are each god in hiding, not religiously but spiritually. In this way the ego’s pride in itself is debunked, not masochistically but in the spirit of cosmic humor.
In order to break away from the current dominator system, we must be able to penetrate the sacred. The key to penetrating the sacred is to turn religious passivity into secular activity, thereby empowering the individual with sacred energy and releasing the closet-hero within. We turn religious passivity into secular activity by sojourning with the mask of the Me-Christ.
“And finally, there is the third Jesus,” Deepak Chopra surmised, “the cosmic Christ, the spiritual guide whose teaching embraces all humanity, not just the church built in his name. He speaks to the individual who wants to find God as a personal experience, to attain what some might call grace, or God-consciousness, or enlightenment.” One dons the mask of the Me-Christ not in a dogmatic, religious sense, but in an open-minded, cosmically-connected sense.
A mask has utility only insofar as it emboldens what’s beneath. The Christ mask is no different, emboldening us to tap into the Christ-like courage within. The action is the thing. A person could be a coward all their life, but if the mask emboldens them to act courageously, their past cowardice matters little. Only a truly courageous person acts courageously. Courage does not imply fearlessness. Fear is the courageous person’s fuel. Courageous people act in spite of fear. The mask simply gives us the excuse we need to act with Christ-like courage. It teaches us that we must create our own forms of faith, our own gods, and our own myths, which will be an arduously Nietzschean task, but necessary for the healthy development of the ego’s graduation into soul.
We don’t don the mask of the Me-Christ in order to become more Christ-like. We don the mask to become more like ourselves. Using a mask as a tool toward such individuation, we discover a sense of self that courageously trumps previous not-so-courageous aspects of ourselves. The goal here is not to become a subject regressively, but to become a force of nature ruthlessly and progressively. Christ “does not bring peace, but a sword.” Thus, by donning the mask we are also drawing the sword. The reason we draw the sword is to cut away the old in order to recreate, or co-create, the new.
“The challenge and the problem of the God-man on the cross,” writes Alan Watts, “is not simply something I am looking at, out there. The more conscious of myself I become, the more I realize that I too am hanging on that same cross.”
We don the mask of the Me-Christ by being with him on that cross. Wisdom without humility is insensate; humility without wisdom is impotent. Being with him on that cross is humility. Being with him when he is resurrected (born again) is wisdom. We must lose God in order to find him. We must fall in order to rise up. We are hardwired for this type of wisdom. We just have to become soft enough to receive it. Softening ourselves is loosening ourselves is shaking ourselves up; what Gandhi called “the annihilation of the self.” And there is no more symbolic an annihilation of the self than the act of donning a mask.
Donning the mask isn’t a hiding or a turning away, but a revealing and an acceptance that life will always be a struggle and that peace, like utopia, is ultimately an illusion. The sword is not a symbol for violence but a symbol for ruthlessness. It is ruthlessness that is needed to usurp stagnation. Donning the mask helps us to discover our own inner-savior, the only savior who can stand at the crossroads of the self, nix decidaphobia, and stare confidently and courageously into the abyss.
Becoming the Me-Christ is a marriage of both eros (subjective/intuitive) and agape (social/political) forms of love, a medium of cyclic self-revolution. The Me-Christ lives what Hermann Keyserling called the “Symbolic Life,” acting with passionate competence and commitment to love and joy that tends to overflow and propagate itself. As the Bhagavad Gita put it, he’s “satisfied with whatever comes unsought.” This goes beyond living in the moment and into living with the infinite. It takes much discipline, a riot of the individual soul, where one is compelled to be a responsible being for the sake of the environment. We need not demythologize the Christ. Rather, we should personify him with myth. tat tvam asi: Christ-consciousness lies within all people.
At the end of the day, we are but mere mortals donning and discarding our masks. But we should have a humorous disposition (not a guilty one) toward such donning and discarding. For it is in the donning and discarding – caught in the tug-of-war between spirit and flesh – that we are most authentically human.
About the Author
Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.
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