I like to think of our lives as a journey. A meandering path full of adventures and experiences, joy and sorrow, pain and laughter. Every morning, we open our eyes to a new stretch of the journey. We set our feet upon the ground, willing to take one more step on the road of our lives.
We take a deep breath to welcome the new day, and embark upon another stream of decisions – however minute or subconscious they may be – that direct the course of our existence. Every instant, we cloak ourselves in a particular mental and emotional charge that determines the color of our lives, and brings us to the next bend in the labyrinth.
But this labyrinth is not in the physical world. Its walls are not made of brick and stone, its pathways not lined with flowering hedges. It is entirely in our minds. The limiting boundaries enclosing our steps arise out of the beliefs we hold. And the junctions we come to are nothing but the options that spring forth from our thinking.
It is the labyrinth of our own creation, its ethereal outline spiraling in and out of eternity. Its Minotaur, mystical half-man, half-beast of ancient Greece, is the embodiment of our fears, waiting for us in the shadows. He roams through the darkest corners of our mind, in a faraway place we secretly hope never to find. So we wander on the outskirts of the labyrinth of our lives, pretending we know where we are going.
But then, one day, something stirs within. A question. A longing. An explosive urge to know the truth about who and what we are. Ignited by disease or depression, the fleeting bliss of a mystical experience, or the pulsating fragments of a shattered heart, our thirst to find the center of the labyrinth can no longer be contained. We want to find our way in, past the distractions that could lead us astray until we stare at the intense light of our soul.
Walking the labyrinth becomes a choice. A sacred act. A journey into the unexplored depths of our subconscious minds. A profound initiation into the Mysteries of Life, in the original sense of the word: a quest back to the beginning.
Suddenly, the misleading junctions and dead-ends vanish. The labyrinth assumes the form of its ancient Greek origins: a single circular pathway leading to the center and back out. The edges have been smoothened. The baffling choices eliminated. There is only one way in. And one way out.
As we walk towards the center, spurred on by our curiosity, we come to understand that the spiral is womb, and that we are marching straight to our death. The death of our fears. The death of our attachments and limiting beliefs. We know we will have to drop everything that makes up who we are. And stand naked and free of expectations, to make way for our luminous rebirth in the symbolic entrails of the Great Mother.
And that is where fear will tighten its grip around our throats. But if we succeed in befriending that which would destroy us, the great Kali – keeper of the cycle of life and death – will come towards us and offer us her sword. She will hold our hand as we set about to dismantle the mistaken beliefs we have accumulated, and unlock the chains borne of centuries of conditioning about who and what we really are.
She will help us confront our addictive clinging to the familiar structures we have erected, and slay our monsters by bringing them into the light of our awareness. With every illusory form struck down onto the earthen floor, we will create the space to take one more breath. One more step. Leaving our discarded past behind us.
And if our determination is strong enough, we will find our way to the untarnished core of our soul. We will experience the stillness of the deep dark waters of origin, and gaze at the peaceful landscapes of a mind freed from harmful belief structures and mistaken interpretations. We will hear the whispers of infinite possibilities and feel our creative power. We will dip our hands in and consciously craft our new selves, to step back into the world.
But then, I hear you ask, if our lives are a labyrinth, do we ever get out? And if we do, how many times are we called to walk back in, propelled again and again across the threshold, to retrace our steps through the Great Labyrinth of initiation? How many times are we called to shed the old and embrace the new, as we spiral our way to higher and higher state of consciousness?
If we are to believe Jorge Luis Borges, Argentinian literary giant who wove many of his short stories on the imaginary coils of a labyrinth, time itself is “that other labyrinth”. And thus, it is perhaps only when we break through the space-time dimension as we know it, when it no longer constrains us, that we complete the greatest initiations of all, and become the ultimate masters of our reality.
The original version of this article appeared on Elefant Journal.