But, first, let's clear up a common mis-understanding: mysticism is not what most people think it is. The popular view is that all things mystical are mysterious and kind of 'out there'. We tend to think of 'mystics' as airy-fairy individuals who see things that aren't there. The reality is that mysticism is a means of learning about the presence of God by direct experience. It turns its back on 'belief' or dogma, theory and scriptures, in favor of actual experience. In the early stages of mystical training the need is to give up all of one's beliefs. And, when you think about it, 'belief' is something that one holds to be true...on faith. A True Believer is one who doesn't know God in the first person, but is willing to take what any particular religion offers as an article of faith. A mystic is one who, via the practice of various exercises and such means as meditation, mantra or wazifa, and prayer...is led to their own personal experience of God's Presence. This is not a 'belief' but rather a 'conviction' because one is not taking anything on faith....but basing what they 'know' on actual experience.
So, when I say that you can see the qualities of a person's inner being in the features of their face, I am not asking you, dear reader, to believe that but rather to begin--if you haven't already--noticing how this is true. An example might be: you meet a person whose features are open and express a certain lightness, happiness and perhaps they even seem luminous. Really....have you not noticed that some people do seem this way? And, as you begin getting to know them, you realize that this is really the essence of 'who they are'.
I had this experience just last week...again. Some weeks ago, I was told about a young woman that it sounded like I might want to meet. I am a painter who often paints people who are uniquely themselves. She is a seventeen year-old who works in a local country store. I reached out to her via her employer and made contact by leaving a copy of my portfolio for her to look at. She expressed an openness to meet, and at the appointed day and time I went to the farm where she has grown-up and met her parents, many siblings, a grand-father and did indeed take some images of her.
Her face absolutely beams with positivity and projects a sense of joyous appreciation of life. I am not going to publish her image or tell you her name out of respect for her privacy, but, I will tell you that this is a remarkable person. Just being around her makes a person feel 'light' and happy. If she can hold onto this essence as she undergoes the challenges of living in these times, she has a wonderful life ahead of her. She will doubtless touch many people that she comes into contact with. She radiates an energy that I must refer to as 'light'. This is an indication of the condition of her soul.
Likewise, you might meet a person who is 'tight-lipped', their mouth forming a thin line on their face, and who appears to be 'wincing' and holding tension in their features. I can almost guarantee you that if you have the opportunity to spend a little time getting to know them, you will come away realizing that the sum total of their life experience has rendered them at least somewhat bitter and even angry. This has happened to me far too many times to doubt that what I am offering you is true. Angry people become angry looking people, their features make you almost afraid to speak to them because they look like they might snap at you. It's not always fair to avoid contact with such people, but it is helpful to prepare yourself and not take it personally if they are unpleasant.
So, why am I telling you this? Well, I am inviting you to begin looking at the people who are now front and center in our lives via the 24/7 news cycle, and who are playing somewhat pivotal roles in determining how our country and even our own lives are conducted. Watch peoples' faces as they speak, and notice their facial gestures. Listen to what they're saying and notice from the viewpoint of a neutral observer what qualities this particular person is putting forward. I am trying very hard here to not single out the most obvious players.....but, I will bet that you have already guessed who would be the most interesting and revealing to watch in this manner.
You can learn a lot more about who a person really is by watching them speak and observing their features as they do, than you ever can by listening to what is coming out of their mouth....especially now that we live in the land of 'alternative facts'. Take a look at the following images and ask yourself what qualities are there in these faces and their expressions. I have tried to select images of each person that caught them in a moment of being un-posed, and not stylin' for the cameras.