The Mask

For seven years a mask I wore,
Secure behind, and firm before;
A mask acceptable and neat,
As folk accustomed are to meet.
It went to school, it went to college,
A mask it was of wit and knowledge;
Older grown, it wined and dined,
Was mask superior, mask refined,
Mask prominent, mask most renowned,
Mask with a hundred masks around.
One day, it felt so hot and tight,
I took it off to say goodnight,
Shake hands, – I think I tried to smile
(’Twas only for a little while).
They shrieked aloud with rage and pain
Until I put it on again.

Sangharakshita on “The Mask”

Listen to the whole interview. Or to individual tracks below.

The sixth in a series of ten intimate interviews between Sangharakshita and Saddhanandi, reflecting on Sangharakshita’s own selections from his extensive body of poetry. In this segment they discuss the poem “The Mask”.

Track 1: Reading of the full poem “The Mask”

Track 2: The meaning and origin of The Mask

Track 3: The difficulty of dropping the mask

Track 4: Wearing robes as a mask or as a symbol

Track 5: Meditation, becoming authentic, and the public mask

Track 6: Balancing public and private personas

Track 7: Encounters with Allen Ginsburg, a Man Without Masks

Track 8: Doing our best to become our ideal selves and communicate authentically

Track 9: Chapters and Confession helping Order members to drop masks

Track 10: Final thoughts on The Mask