There’s a well-known Buddhist koan that goes, ‘Show me your original face, the face you had before your parents were born.’ Another version is worded, ‘Do not think of good, do not think of evil. At this very moment, what is your original face before your father and mother were born?’
Such puzzles were presented to the spiritual seeker to meditate upon—to live with it, so to speak—until the meaning was intuitively grasped.
Here, the phrase “original face” refers to the ultimate reality you can perceive only when you have removed all the delusions you harbor about “reality”—alluding to a primordial you (i.e., your true self) beyond duality.
This koan recently came to mind when I asked myself:
“Who am I without my fears?”
I didn’t want some abstract, conceptual answer but one that was grounded and practical. I wondered what would I say, what would I do, where would I go, how would I see the world, and even more mundane things like, what would I eat if my life wasn’t dictated by fear?
To conceive of a fearless me—not flippantly, but truly—wasn’t easy.
To do so would require a clear understanding of what it is I’m actually afraid of, and to be honest, most of us aren’t compelled to embark on this type of self-reflection. But I’ve done the work, and even with this insight, my fears can be so deep and enduring that imagining a life without them seems . . . impossible.
However, a fearless me does show up on occasion and I wanted to try to get a snapshot of who she might be (in order to refer to it when she’d inevitably slip away into the ether again), so I did divination to summon her forth.
In the context of my proposition, the original face means the me that naturally exists outside of societal and familial programming, the part of me that isn’t attached to its traumas and fears, and who doesn’t subsist in survival mode.
I found the exercise incredibly helpful, and now, when I have a bout of anxiety or a day of depression, I look at my notes to remind myself of who I effortlessly am when I am not stuck in the past or obsessed with the future.
I thought it might be an interesting experiment to do a light version of this process here with you.
Using your intuition, I want you to choose one drawing from an oracle deck I am creating, then scroll down and read a short note about a facet of your original face that accompanies your choice.
So, let’s get started (if you want).
It’s important to choose intuitively and not intellectually. Don’t think, just go with your gut. Your eye will probably be immediately drawn to one drawing – don’t second guess it.
- Scroll down through an assortment of images until you reach the four drawings.
- Pick one of the four drawings.
- Read your message.
The phrase, “to thine own self be true,” comes to mind when it comes to you. Whereas we often think of dogs as being unconditionally loving and fiercely loyal to their owners, you exhibit these qualities greatly towards yourself. You are very clear about who you are and you live a life of integrity, remaining loyal to your values and purpose, where others might feel compelled to compromise or make detrimental sacrifices.
You are very aware of your needs and you take excellent care of yourself without being selfish or stepping on anyone else’s toes. Your mindset is naturally expansive and zeroed in on possibilities, as opposed to being trapped in limitation.
You trust that nature and the universe will provide for you and support you just as well as you do for yourself.
People may view you as ambitious, self-possessed, strong-willed, and courageous. You are someone who stays in their own lane and barrels ahead, always moving forward.
Driven by primal instincts and the urging of your soul, you take inspired action confidently without delay or doubt.
You just may be the ultimate worker bee. You don’t mind the hustle because you have an incredible amount of faith in the basic principle that when you sow, you’ll eventually reap, and you exhibit an incredible amount of patience and dedication in seeing things through to manifestation.
You’re also super resourceful. You have a real talent for finding solutions that actually work, even when you have little help and few resources at your disposal.
You’re a real “Jesus with the two fish and five loaves” type, who can do so much with so little. You know how to enjoy the harvest, especially with others, and you’re good about saving up for a rainy day.
You are incredibly self-reliant and believe that everything you need to succeed is buried somewhere within you. People may view you as reliable, hardworking, clever, witty, and “street smart.”
You know how to be in right relationship with everything and everyone, especially yourself.
At any given moment you are hyper aware of the balance of the scales, and if anything feels off, you’re not afraid to conjure up the proverbial storm in order to clear the way for harmony and peace to be restored.
You are very adept at maintaining multiple perspectives at once, and when there’s discord, you like to get all sides of the story in order to discover how a fair resolution can be reached for all involved.
In terms of the relationship you have with yourself, you never ignore or repress your shadow side in favor of the face you show to the world, because you recognize the importance of accepting and integrating all aspects of the Self.
Your goal is not to find an inert point of boring equilibrium, but to find a way to enjoy all the experiences of life and still be able to maintain your own inner stability. To do so, you always act from your own center.
People may view you as objective, neutral, fair, balanced, and great at problem-solving.
For you, feelings are harbingers of truth and you engage with the world around you primarily on an emotional level.
You are someone who feels your way into things, trusting your heart and your inner compass to lead you in the best direction, even if it doesn’t make rational sense.
As far as your mind is concerned, it is a disciplined and clear filter used in service to the intelligence of your heart.
You are very connected to your subconscious mind and to the unconscious collective, and you are capable of channeling information intuitively from these realms for yourself and for others.
Your presence in healing and peaceful. Those who are troubled are naturally drawn to you and seek your counsel, whether it is consciously or unconsciously.
People may view you as loving, empathetic, introspective, gentle, receptive, and a little on the quiet side. You you know how to go with the flow of events and you are comfortably and constantly in a state of surrender to the greater intelligence of the universe.
If you’ve made it this far, I’m very curious about how you felt when you read your message. Did it resonate or did it feel diametrically opposed to how you currently move through the world? Would embodying this facet of yourself make life easier, and you, less resistant? Or maybe you already do?
Can you guess which one is mine? I chose mine blindly, and intuitively as well, and it resonates completely. But wearing my original face is still a challenge because I am so used to the mask I have become comfortable wearing.