In A Course in Miracles, Jesus speaks of the face of innocence. This is an aspect of the ego identity which tends to side with "positivity" and "being good" and "people pleasing" and trying to portray itself as innocent, harmless, even weak and frail. This face of innocence is "the innocent victim", and sides with victims. The illusion of innocence is there to cover up secret hidden desires to attack and victimize. And the innocent face is a way to pretend you are not the cause of anything that happens.
In psychological terms the face of innocence is what we also call "the persona". It's part of the split mind. It's a device we use to only accept that which appears to be acceptable, positive, good, desirable, etc. But it also acts like a knife, splitting the mind and rejecting parts that it finds not good enough. It is in fact a way that the mind attacks itself by identifying aspects which are unacceptable and dissociating from them. This places them into the "shadow" behind walls of denial (blocks to awareness). It is perfectionistic, because it always asserts that you are not perfect enough.
Jesus: "The concept of the self the world would teach is not the thing that it appears to be. For it is made to serve two purposes, but one of which the mind can recognize. The first presents the face of innocence, the aspect acted ON. It is this face that smiles and charms and even seems to love. It searches for companions, and it looks at times with pity on the suffering, and sometimes offers solace. It believes that it is good, within an evil world. This aspect can grow angry, for the world is wicked, and unable to provide the love and shelter innocence deserves. And so this face is often wet with tears, at the injustices the world accords to those who would be generous and good."
"This aspect NEVER makes the first attack. But every day a hundred little things make small assaults upon its innocence, provoking it to irritation, and at last to open insult and abuse."
He goes on to describe how this face of innocence covers up a terrible secret. That behind this "special love" there is "special hate". Underlying the face of innocence and the innocent victim, is an attack and judgement and condemnation. And in it, others stand accused of sinning against you. The face becomes a way to portray oneself as "at the effect of the world", such that if it appears to be the innocent party, then others must stand accused at the slightest provocation. It is a device for scapegoating.
"Beneath the face of innocence there is a lesson that the concept of the self was made to teach. It is a lesson in a terrible displacement, and a fear so devastating that the face which smiles above it must forever look away, lest it perceive the treachery it hides. The lesson teaches this; "I am the thing you made of me, and as you look on me you stand condemned, because of what I am." On this conception of the self the world smiles with approval, for it guarantees the pathways of the world are safely kept, and those who walk on them will not escape."
Behind the innocent face therefore, there is a hidden accusation that others are sinful, and the face is held up as a mask ready to "receive" their attack, like a trap. The face is easily offended and easily upset by the world and the acts of others, as it was designed to be. It is produced by the condemnation of oneself, the partitioning off of parts of self as "evil", hiding this from ones own awareness (in the shadow) and then projecting it onto others. Thus behind the face of innocence there is judgement and condemnation, unforgiveness and victimization of others.
"Here is the central lesson that ensures your brother is condemned eternally. For what YOU are has now become his sin. For this is no forgiveness possible. No longer does it matter what he does, for your accusing finger points to him, unwavering and deadly in its aim. It points to you as well, but this is kept still deeper in the mists below the face of innocence. And in these shrouded vaults are all his sins and yours preserved, and kept in darkness, where they cannot be perceived as errors, which the light would surely show. "
False innocence is not real innocence. It's a mask that people wear to pretend to be spiritual or holier than thou. It is not authentic and isn't your self. It's a disguise, designed to make you look like the innocent one so that you are not identified as the source of guilt. Always the ego takes steps to DENY what it does, to deny your soul, to deny even that you sinned, to deny that you are even guilty, resulting in the production of a facade which hides your own guilt from you. You will then "look" innocent but only in appearance, and no-one would suspect you are the one who is attacking.
The persona and the shadow - the accepted parts of self and the rejected parts of self, are the two halves of the split mind. You keep the rejected parts in darkness because, if they were brought into the light, you would see that the mind is one, not two. And this would heal and undo the split, removing both the persona and the shadow. And it is this the persona avoids at all costs.
"Dissociation is a distorted process of thinking, whereby two systems of belief, which CANNOT coexist, are BOTH MAINTAINED. It HAS BEEN recognized that, if they were BROUGHT TOGETHER, their joint acceptance WOULD become impossible. But, if one is kept in darkness FROM THE OTHER, their SEPARATION seems to keep them both alive, and equal in their reality. Their JOINING thus becomes the source of fear, for, if they meet, acceptance MUST be withdrawn from one of them."
"The light of guiltlessness shines guilt away because, when they are BROUGHT TOGETHER, the truth of one MUST make the falsity of its OPPOSITE perfectly clear. "
"WHAT DO YOU WANT? Light or darkness, knowledge or ignorance are yours, but not both. Opposites must be brought together, and not kept apart. For their separation is only in your mind, and they are reconciled by union, as YOU are. In union, everything that is not real MUST disappear, for truth IS union. As darkness disappears in light, so ignorance fades away when knowledge dawns."
@Sean, it’s about integration. A willingness to do two things. a) to recognize that the face of innocent persona mask is NOT HONEST, and looking deeper behind what it’s covering up (attack) and choosing not to do that or to use it. And similarly b) to stop hating and separating off parts of yourself as evil and sinful.
How does one bring light to the persona and the shadow? Is it acceptance of the shadow? Please help me understand what I must do, for I do wear this mask of innocence which is covering up my sins.