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Liberation Without a Face is Total Revolution
An essay on liberation beyond gender
by Andrew Cohen
In the time we are living in, we have so often been told that the opposites within us must unite, that the male and the female must come together inwardly and outwardly to merge as one, and in so doing dissolve in emptiness, in the realization of nonduality. Who would argue with this? But the question is, in our desire for this union with ourselves, are we too easily satisfied merely spending our time in the separative stages of only reaching for that union? Are we satisfied simply with the knowledge that we intend to go beyond opposites rather than actually succeeding in doing so for more than just a few brief moments?
It is possible to step directly beyond opposites thereby bypassing the entire process of unification. The following piece describes that possibility.
The absolute is only the absolute. Truth has no gender. It has no name and has no face. That's why it is a mystery and that's why it will always be a mystery. A mystery so profound that through the mere contemplation of its absolute nature the individual comes face to face with his or her own nonexistence as form, thought or even feeling. A mystery so profound that its true revelation strikes fear in the hearts of any and all who would not and could not dare to embrace the ultimate fact of nonduality.
If the individual possesses that pure intention that empowers them to respond to the longing for transcendence with fearless abandon, then woman ceases to be woman and man ceases to be man. If the truth absolute has no face how can we, once we have discovered that fact, claim to have a name or a face, identify ourselves with being a woman or a man? If indeed we are able to find the courage to abandon all notions of self, thereby making room for that indescribable mystery to reveal itself unobstructed by concept, then the fact of gender will in no way hinder or distort the full and complete expression and manifestation of that mystery as Self. Then a woman is able to be a woman freely and fully, thoroughly unpreoccupied with that fact of her own human existence. And a man is able to be a man freely and fully, thoroughly unpreoccupied with that fact of his own human existence. This is the whole point. For liberation means not only freedom from fear and delusion, but also freedom from all fixed notions of self. For our humanity—that means our womanhood or manhood—to be able to manifest and express itself freely, wholeheartedly and without inhibition, an unthinkable leap must be taken. It is imperative that the individual become so identified with the ultimate and unfathomable mystery of their own existence that any and all notions of self, including gender distinctions, are abandoned as significant reference points. Only then can a truly faceless liberation occur.
Liberation without a face does not in any way avoid or deny the fact of our humanity, of our gender, of our differences. In fact, liberation without a face allows our humanity, our gender, our differences to manifest and express themselves without inhibition precisely because we have dared to allow the fact of difference to become absolutely irrelevant. This demands tremendous courage, for living in this way without fixed reference points as a safe refuge forces a state of unbroken and unselfconscious humanity to manifest and express itself as it ultimately and truly is, which is FREE. Free and truly liberated only because the fact of difference is no longer in any way an essential issue to be distracted by. Finally liberated from the ceaseless distraction and fascination with difference, we can constantly realize and freely be who we are, as woman, as man, without fear, free from the need to assert the significance of difference over the ultimate fact of truth.
This liberation is profound because inherent in it is the end of conflict, the end of the battle of domination and submission, the end of the other. Liberation without a face is revolutionary by its nature because it demands absolute and total submission—submission of any and all fascination and identification with ideas of self, including those of gender, that in any way would be permitted to transcend the significance of the nondual fact of our nature.
In ten years of teaching the miracle of liberation I have learned a lot about the human condition. The most challenging matter for the seeker of enlightenment is learning what it means to be nobody. Many think they want to be enlightened but actually without realizing it they only aspire to be better people. Better means powerful, wise, compassionate, fearless. To be enlightened means that the very center falls away and we find ourselves standing nowhere in the middle of everything with nothing to hold on to—including power, wisdom, compassion and courage.
How many women have I seen who claimed they wanted to be free while at the same time tenaciously holding on to the idea of being a saint or a good person, deeply terrified of being nobody? How many men have I seen who thought they wanted to be enlightened, but who so obviously had infinitely more interest in power and knowledge than in emptiness?
It's not possible to be nobody as long as we insist on being somebody.