We Find What We Seek

The world we see conforms to our expectations, our hopes, our fears.  When our minds and hearts are open, everything is possible.  When we are determined to see what we expect to see, the world obliges us by fulfilling our demands.  Our fears are realized.  We prove ourselves right by finding the evidence we need.

Do we need to be right?  There is so much to explore, so much to discover.  There is so much we do not know.  Nothing is finished or perfect, including our understanding of the universe, of where we are from, of where we are going.  And that imperfect understanding means there is always more to discover, more to learn, more to be.

Endless joy.

Into The Labyrinth

Ariadne was a princess of Crete, daughter of Minos, the king that created the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur.  There is a dark family history here–the Minotaur, half-man and half-bull, was the son of a pure white bull and the queen, Ariadne’s mother.  He was a monstrous creature who devoured innocent men and women, and so was imprisoned within a dark and twisting labyrinth far beneath the palace.

The hero Theseus arrived from Athens intent on destroying the monster.  For love of him, the princess Ariadne betrayed her father and family and promised the hero her help.  She gave Theseus a ball of red thread, and told him that if he would unwind it as he made his way through the labyrinth, he would then be able to follow the thread out again.

Did Theseus need the red thread?  Or was Ariadne’s gift one of hope and comfort?  A labyrinth, unlike a maze, is not always a place of dead-ends and twisting turns.  A labyrinth may be a direct, although curving, journey to the center of the self, a winding path that is nevertheless sure in its destination and in the return.  It is, in fact, a mirror of our own lives.  We can see ourselves as lost in a frightening maze, unsure of the terrors around the next corner.  Or we can see ourselves in a true labyrinth, in which we cannot see what lies ahead but know we will ultimately be led to the center of our souls, and back again.  The fact that we cannot see what is coming next is the gift of time.

We fear that, buried deep within our souls, far below the realm of our daily lives, there lives within us a beast, an unknown and unfaced aspect of ourselves that cannot be controlled.  But into the labyrinth we must go, as Theseus did, to face the part of ourselves that we would hide.

Whatever the Minotaur represents, and whether his home was a maze or a labyrinth, Theseus took Ariadne’s thread with him and was able to slay the beast.  On finding his way safely out, from darkness into the light, he stole away with Ariadne, sailing back towards Athens with the promise that he would make her his wife.

And then he left her, alone and sleeping, on the shore of a small island.  Some versions of the tale say he was unwillingly swept away in a storm, in grief over her loss; others that he had no care for her and abandoned her at the first opportunity.  And yet other versions claim that he was forced to leave by the God of Wine, Dionysus, who loved her and desired her for himself.

When Ariadne awoke, alone on the sandy beach, she thought herself abandoned and betrayed, whatever the reality might have been.  She had left her family, her home, her life, to sail away with a man who did not or could not love her as she loved him.  She did not realize that, whatever Theseus’ intent, a better future awaited her.  One in which she was the chosen, the beloved, of a god, brought into the heavens and made a goddess in her own right.  Her wedding crown, the Corona, was placed in the night sky as a constellation, as a tribute to the endless love between Dionysus and Ariadne.

Like Psyche, Ariadne could not have known what future awaited her; none of us can.  But it is usually better than we could ever hope or imagine.

See The Arrow

To find your way forward, you must know where you are, who you are, what gifts you possess.  Be here now, and the future becomes not only clear but obvious.  The arrow’s trajectory is never a mystery to one who truly sees the arrow.

We possess many different gifts.  The one we all share is truth.  We are truth.  That is our gift, not to receive, but to give.  To share.  But we cannot give from a place of weakness.  We can only give from our truest, most authentic selves.  We have nothing else to give, but our authentic selves.  Being ourselves, loving ourselves, loving others, loving each moment–that is how we heal ourselves, one another, and the world.

Are you afraid?  To be afraid is to be human.  You cannot stifle fear, cannot sneak past it.  What you can do is accept it, learn what you can from it, and then choose the path of love instead.  Even in the face of fear, the face of defeat and failure and destruction, you must always choose love.  That is the only lesson worth learning, the only test before you.  That is what all true stories teach–that it is possible to choose love.  That love is the only answer, and the only hope.

Face Your Fears

To release pain and return to peace,  let yourself feel whatever is haunting you.  We all spend so much of our time hiding from what causes us discomfort.  We try to ignore it, to push past it.  We either obsess over our pain or push it away, denying its existence.  And even if we are obsessing over it, often this is just another way of hiding.  We aren’t looking at what is really bothering us, but fixating on what someone else is doing, or how we wish things were different.  We aren’t willing to feel our discomfort and face the real problem.  Very often our problems are not what we think; very often our problems are not even there at all.

Remember how a child is terrified of the monster he is convinced is under the bed?  He is so afraid that he can’t even look to see if the monster is really there.  If he had the ability to do so, he would probably search for a blowtorch to destroy the monster, the bed, the entire room, rather than simply turning on the light and looking to see what is actually under the bed:  nothing.  (And even if something is there, it is still better fought in the light.)

So the first step to finding the truth and returning to peace is to be honest about what it is you are afraid of, and to let yourself feel the emotions you haven’t wanted to face.  Write in a journal, talk to a wise friend, sit in meditation, pray.  Get it out.  Be honest with yourself.  And then feel, in your body, where the pain lives.  Know that it can’t, in itself, hurt you.  It is teaching you how to find freedom.

Sit with the feeling for a few minutes–some say that a feeling can pass through you completely in only 90 seconds.  But let it be.  Feel your fear, your pain.  Pray or cry if that helps you to feel it, but don’t shut it out, and don’t cling to it.  Let it out.

Once you have immersed yourself in the feeling, and allowed yourself to really look at the monsters that frighten you, let them go.  There is a lightness, a clean feeling, that arises after we have allowed ourselves to feel our suffering, similar to how one can feel lighter after a good cry.  There is a special kind of peace that is found only on the other side of pain, simply because we have witnessed and survived it.  We are reminded that we are vulnerable, we have accepted that fact, and we are better for it.

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