Greetings from our Director
I heard a noise at an entrance in the Casa Mandala. Investigating, I discovered a little male roadrunner bumping up against the glass and “attacking” his own reflection. He, “Fred,” was advancing relentlessly with hard blows aimed at his perceived foe. I wondered why Fred was causing himself such self-inflicted mayhem when he was free to do otherwise. He had acres of open land all around. My mind recalled the Greek myth about Narcissus. Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and was trapped forever.
While Fred did seem obsessed with his reflection, he did not seem at all “in love with himself.” He was fitful and clearly at odds with his faux likeness. How often do we attack ourselves – sometimes unwittingly? How often do we give power to our internal sentiments that keep us fixated on our own self-loathing? (“I am not good enough!”) How often do we abuse ourselves with addictions? How often do we let our anger and grievances blind us? How often do we confine ourselves to small spaces, small ideas of who we are, and small dreams, unable to pull our gaze away because we cannot see the bigger picture or realize we have a choice?
Thinking about the people who retreat to places like The Mandala Center, I realize how solitary retreats, extended times of silent meditation, and times of deep reflection (this is a clue) offer us a chance to face the illusory images we project on ourselves and others. When we step back and look at our patterns and behaviors we may not like what we see. When we get quiet the harsh inner voices often seem to shout louder. These may be the reasons some people resist being alone for extended contemplative time – it is scary and hard. When we are alone it is possible to lose our way, to mistake illusion for truth, and to become confused by the little mental demons taunting us.
But mature spiritual teachers inform us that the gift comes when we stay the course, befriend the inner critics, and seek new understanding. Instead of self-hatred and guilt, a reflection of love and forgiveness may appear instead. We are led to realize we are not the bad monster and discover that we had no need to fear in the first place. We shall discern the light of healing rising like the dawn within and around us and shall glimpse the radiance piercing through all our false defenses.
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