“Man is indeed abroad to satisfy needs which are more to him than food and clothing. He is out to find himself. Man’s history is the history of his journey to the unknown in quest of the realisation of his immortal self – his soul. Through the rise and fall of empires; through the building up gigantic piles of wealth and the ruthless scattering of them upon the dust; through the creation of vast bodies of symbols that give shape to his dreams and aspirations, and the casting of them away like the playthings of an outworn infancy; through his forging of magic keys with which to unlock the mysteries of creation, and through his throwing away of this labour of ages to go back to his workshop and work up afresh some new form; yes, through it all man is marching from epoch to epoch towards the fullest realisation of his soul, – the soul which is greater than the things man accumulates, the deeds he accomplishes, the theories he builds; the soul whose onward course is never checked by death or dissolution.
Man’s mistakes and failures have by no means been trifling or small, they have strewn his path with colossal ruins; his sufferings have been immense, like birth-pangs for a giant child; they are the prelude of a fulfilment whose scope is infinite. Man has gone through and is still undergoing martyrdoms in various ways, and his institutions are the altars he has built whereto he brings his daily sacrifices, marvellous in kind and stupendous in quantity. All this would be absolutely unmeaning and unbearable if all along he did not feel that deepest joy of the soul within him, which tries its divine strength by suffering and proves its exhaustless riches by renunciation.
Yes, they are coming, the pilgrims, one and all – coming to their true inheritance of the world; they are ever broadening their consciousness, ever seeking a higher and higher unity, ever approaching nearer to the one central Truth which is all-comprehensive.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941)
Painting by Edward Burne-Jones (1833 – 1898)
– ‘Sadhana’: The Realization of Life – by Rabindranath Tagore – (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
Miriam Louisa Simons is a retired artist and educator, and the creator of several excellent blogs on the non-dual journey. I’m happy that she is the first friend invited to contribute here. Out of a lifelong dedication to art and spiritual inquiry, she invites us to delve into the image of the Labyrinth, uncover its connections with our life, with grace, until ‘we arrive naked at the freedom that was always there’…
“Do you think I know what I’m doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?
As much as a pen knows what it’s writing,
or the ball can guess where it’s going next.”
The Labyrinth is a familiar symbol. Its enigmatic presence has left footprints that fade back into the beginning of the human story. Its origins and its purpose have been rich fodder for research and speculation.
I don’t pretend to know the truth of its tale, but see the archetypal labyrinth as apt visual shorthand for the map of a life, and that’s how its symbolism is used in this little essay.
The many lanes of the Labyrinth are in fact only one long path that winds and twists and turns back on itself as it explores all the territory of a life before arriving at its Heart.
By ‘Heart’ I mean the natural essence of the ‘walker’ of the Labyrinth – beyond both conception and perception – the unknowable and ineffable awareness we nevertheless recognize as our changeless Being.