Archive for August, 2012

The labyrinth

We tend to associate ‘labyrinth’ with ‘maze.’ But the two are essentially different. While a maze is a complex path consisting of different routes to choose from, a labyrinth is a single path that leads to the centre and back, and is less complex in nature. According to Greek mythology, a labyrinth had been designed for King Minos of Crete to hold the Minotaur, a mythical creature that was half man and half bull.
I walked in my first labyrinth today, with the path marked by stones placed strategically. This walk was part of an exercise to achieve a reflective state, in which one is meant to be so focused on following the given path, that the constant chattering of the mind is pacified ( purgation).
There was one expected twist in the labyrinth, which meant we had to retract our steps a little, before we reached the centre. And while the double seven-circuit classical path seemed small and manageable in the beginning, by the time we came back to the beginning, it seemed to be quite a long journey.
How many twists and turns are there in our lives? We think we are moving in one direction, and then something changes – an event, or someone we meet – and the direction drastically changes. We think we are in control, but are we?
Is life like the maze, with a choice of paths for us to take, or is the path more predetermined like the labyrinth? Either way, there are always surprises on the way, some beautiful, and others devastating.
Socrates captures this element of surprise:
“Then it seemed like falling into a labyrinth: we thought we were at the finish, but our way bent round and we found ourselves as it were back at the beginning, and just as far from that which we were seeking at first.”
Remembering the words of Laren Artress, perhaps what we need to remember is to keep walking on fearlessly: “We are not human beings on a spiritual path, but spiritual beings on a human path.”