Chapter 8: Utterly Luminous
It is a beautiful story, of tremendous significance. That’s how the really holy people have always lived: in a veiled way. They live as ordinary human beings, that is the meaning of the story. Not that they really cover their faces, there is no need. That is not the way to hide yourself. If you move with a covered face you will attract more attention. People may not look at your shining face, because who cares about other faces and others’ faces?
Everybody is preoccupied with his own face. People stand before mirrors for hours. Who cares about others? Who has the time? And if they see the light they may find a thousand and one ways to explain why it is so. They may even think: This man is ill, diseased, something has gone wrong in his chemistry. Maybe his body electricity is leaking out or something - short-circuited or something.
But if you move with a veiled face, everybody is bound to be attracted towards you. Mohammedan women attract more attention than anybody else. The veil becomes a provocation, an invitation: one wants to uncover the face and see what is inside. A great curiosity arises.
So the story does not relate anything factual - I don’t think Moses would have done such a stupid thing - but it has a significant meaning. It is a metaphor. It simply says that the really holy person lives in such an ordinary way that nobody becomes aware of his holiness unless you come very close to him, become almost part of his being.
He eats like you - that’s why Jesus eats like you, drinks wine, mixes with ordinary people. He just remains ordinary, in no way he pretends. The really holy man is unselfconscious about his holiness, that is the meaning.
But I have read one philosopher who thinks otherwise. Philosophers are strange people. They can find loopholes where none exist. They are only concerned with finding loopholes. I have come across one analysis of this metaphor.
The philosopher says that Moses was hiding his face not because he did not want to prove his holiness to people but he was afraid that sooner or later that light will fade away and then where will his holiness be? So it is better to keep the face hidden so nobody ever comes to know that the light had faded away.
Now you see the tricky mind, the cunning mind! The cunning mind always destroys; it is always destructive. Now a beautiful metaphor is turned into an ugly thing. Now Moses looks cunning, afraid, scared of the people. Because the light will fade away and when people see that the light has faded they will think, “Now Moses is no longer our prophet, our leader.” Afraid of the future, he keeps his face covered so that he can go on deceiving people.