Your Original Face

The original face is you, without stories, games, or excuses. It’s you, without trying to define yourself. It’s who you are, as you are.

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original face

Her mother thought gender confusion was interesting…

A famous koan: “Show me your original face before you were born.”

And another quote from Brad Warner’s, “Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen’s Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye”:

It’s about seeing your real troubles, your real trials, your real difficulties and joys as they actually are, without the overblown drama we usually ladle on top of them.” p 116

I’m thinking about how we view reality, and a big chunk of that is how we view ourselves.

And others. I even created a chart to describe the process—I’ve worked off of one developed by Ben ‘n Jock from The Haven.


The part we talk about a lot on this blog is down there at the bottom.

The Sea of Chi part, followed by the Cultural Lens. The process of being “enculturated”— brought up to fit in—is what happens to everyone, everywhere. We end up with differences across the globe because our tribes are, well, tribal.

Rosie DiManno is a writer for the Toronto Star. Yesterday (March 20) she wrote an article entitled, “No escape valve for so much grief.”

The plot of the article was that the people of Japan were, in a sense, doing it wrong.

A woman sobbed in my arms a day ago. And then she thanked me, me, for letting her cry.

There is something profoundly wrong with a culture when grief can be unloosed only in a stranger’s embrace. And then an apology is offered for the apparent unseemliness of anguish cracking publicly.”

Now, I’m disinterested in Rosie’s thoughts on this. I will mention that I’ve read her stuff for 30 years. Rosie is a 50 something, hard-drinking and hard smoking Canadian-Italian. That’s her tribal background. If she grew up like my Italian friends in Buffalo did, then displays of emotion, (with lots of gestures) is her norm. Not right, not wrong, but her norm.

It’s not, and never will be, the Japanese norm.

There is no question that I sort of agree with the “emotions need an outlet” school of thought. What I don’t think is that getting your emotions out is “right.”

Which takes us back to the chart. Who and how we are, for the most part, is determined by the rules imposed by our tribes. This “rule-ing” conditions our expression of self, emotions, sexuality, “drive”, motivation, etc. As I’ve conveyed in the chart, it’s a paring down of the fullness of ourselves — we come into the world as “oceanic”— floating in “all of it.” We reach adulthood as a small percentage of who we actually are.

The socialization process gives us stories to tell, and especially stories about ourselves.


Many are the folk, for example, that have all kinds of “body image” stories. Or passion stories. In most cases, the story is, “Be totally critical, and stuff any feelings happening from the neck down, and especially from the waist down.”

Our original face is “all of us.” All our parts, intact. All our parts, online. And then we learned to shut down.

As Warner says, it’s seeing it all as it is, “…without the overblown drama we usually ladle on top of them.” No stories, just the experience. Or, as we tell stories, the willingness to call, “Story!” and let it go.

The koan points to this. “Show me your original face before you were born.” Let me re-state it.

Show me your original face before your “you” was born.” Before you bought into your identity—into your “Not good enough.” Or, “Not trying hard enough.” Or, “slow, dumb, persecuted me.” Before your “you” was born, you simply were.

And that part of you is “right here, right now.”

This is not about running wild or being out of control, although being regularly out of control is likely a good thing.

This is about our willingness to notice how much we slather on the “overblown drama we usually ladle on top of ourselves.” I watch clients either beat up on themselves, or shut down, living small lives in the process. And when I press, out come the stories.

A client recently told me all about all the people who were holding her back and blaming her. I kept pressing her use of “them.” After several attempts, she spit out 3 names, and none were contacts newer than 3 years ago, some were decades old.

Now, who was holding her back?

Another wrote to describe being paralyzed by the opinions of others, and again, there was nothing actually happening. Some drama, sure, but the “… real troubles, … real trials, … real difficulties…” were self-created. And minor.


So what is your original face?

It’s you, unjudged by you. Unlabelled by you. Unrestricted by you. It’s the you that is present for life, but is not governed by the thoughtless slathering of cultural norms.

It’s you as you recognize that you are stopping yourself from being present by getting lost in your stories, dramas, games and evasions.

Your original face is present and aware

To go back to Rosie DiManno for a minute—after the hug and the sobbing, she could also conclude:

Wow. There I was and there the woman was there, and I reached out, and she reached out, and amazing things happened.”

No judgements, no stories, no lectures. Just simple presence.

I often invite my clients to do some “eye-looking.”

You just look into the other’s eyes, and leave your eyes right there. No looking away, no making yourself uncomfortable (even though you were taught “It’s not nice to stare…”) If you do this, you begin to see the original face of the other person, and you begin to recognize you are looking out of your original eyes.

Our stories and structures are just stories and structures. Not true, not false, by mostly just stories. Our original face is what the world is, when we drop the games.

Show me your original face.

QiGong – the new kid on the block???

qi gong

I am writing to tell you about a new, 22-week, online internet course for learning QiGong. It has been made available by Marcus James Santer. I have signed up for the course, and plan to write some weekly highlights about what I am learning. If you think you might be interested in checking it out then Wayne will point you in the right direction. (See above link, or image below! 😉 )

My first awareness of QiGong was many years ago when I first studied Tai Chi. I’m fascinated with learning more about QiGong; however, it is often difficult to find a good instructor. It is a goal for Marcus to make QiGong more known

He told a story of being in a group of people, and asked how many knew about yoga. Everyone’s hand went up. When he asked about Tai chi, just about everyone’s hand went up. When it came to QiGong – hardly anyone had heard about it. I imagine many of the readers of this blog have heard of QiGong but only a few have had any direct experience.

In fact, Tai Chi is one of the many forms of QiGong. It is not really the new kid on the block, as QiGong has been around for over 5000 years. However, only in recent years have the secrets of QiGong been shared. Basically, QiGong consists of simple exercises that allow you to manage your “chi” energy. Your body can use this energy to heal itself. QiGong is simple to learn—it’s much easier than Tai Chi. There is no special equipment or outfit required. You just need some comfortable clothes and a space to work in.

A quote from Marcus James Santer’s blog ( QiGong15)

The world won’t change if you learn
Shaolin Qigong, things will still happen that you
would prefer didn’t and some people will still
behave towards you in ways you don’t deserve.
No, the world won’t change after you learn
Shaolin Qigong, something even better
happens: You change (for the better!)

For the past few years, as part of our workshops and meditation retreats, I have been teaching some QiGong. It has always concerned me that I was not able to point participants in a direction that would provide them with an opportunity to learn more about QiGong on their own.  This course now gives me a direction that I can share if someone wants to learn more.

Each week, Marcus presents new material in the form of video about a half an hour to 40 minutes long. A written form is also available as a PDF download. There is also a version of the video in MP4 format for iPods, iPads, iPhones etc. The only criticism I’ve read is that the videos can be a problem if you do not have a good internet connection.

Each week, Marcus provides some background information as well as demonstrating QiGong movements. Week one had one simple move. It was a new movement for me and I am enjoying practicing it. He presented the move with very little instruction about techniques, so anyone will be able to learn the movement, and practise it. The instructions in week one were easy to follow and I believe that someone new to QiGong will find the material easy to understand.

I was impressed with one simple instruction.  Marcus suggested that we repeat this movement ten to fifteen times. He also said not to count the moves, suggesting that we keep going until we feel we have completed the correct number of moves. He suggests listening to our body, being present with the exercise, rather than thinking it through and directing the activity from our mind. I thought this was an interesting twist and so different from how we often learn new things in the west. I’ve quite enjoyed the freedom of not counting repetitions.

Qigong Secrets Home Study Course

If you are interested in signing up for this on-line course, it only costs about $5 for a two-week look at the course. If you don’t cancel in the first two weeks, then the cost to continue is just under $30 a month for five months. You are automatically enrolled in the full program, and the monthly billing will happen unless you cancel. An email will arrive before that monthly billing starts. There is a 100% guarantee on the two-week trial and your money will be refunded. 

I finished the week one material in a couple of hours. I have been practicing the first movement for about 5 minutes twice a day. I am eager to get access to week two.

Palms together,


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So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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