by Steve Feite
(Steve Feite is a practitioner of both the Western and Eastern Mystery traditions. As a geomancer he is interested in new hybrids of Geomantic practice facilitated by an East-West exchange of ideas, and a global perspective.Trained as a geologist, he believes science can play a role in this emergence, breaking through the boundaries of scientific materialism and thus creating a firm foundation for a new geomancy. He currently resides in the beautiful mountains of Maine, near it's rocky coast.)
Think-think Think again Think past Think future.
And on and on and on.
And so it goes: the mind, on and on endlessly, thinking, thinking, thinking. It becomes such an ingrained habit, that we never really even 'think' about it. Have you ever taken up the process of meditation? Meditation is the method by which we begin to overthrow this unruly ruler, and seek that calm center that lies at the very source of thought. You see, most of us never really even think about it. If we did, we would just continue doing what is the problem in the first place: chasing those thought-patterns-endlessly. Most never realize how much we define (and thus limit) ourselves by this self-imposed cage of 'think.' 'Good' thoughts we like build such a nice place to be that we never even notice the cage and its limiting bars. 'Bad' thoughts-painful thoughts are more limiting; we see the cage and usually flee the cage-in search of greener 'thought pastures.'
This cage, this prison of thought is what the ancient seers called manas, the thinking mind. It is the constant dialogue going on inside that never seems to end. A story driven by the very force of karma itself. Each time we attach to a thought (usually one we like) we re-inforce the chance that it will occur again (and again). After all we do like it, it is our friend,right?
Wrong. This force of attachment to thought-patterns, or samskaras, is the very source of samsara or misery it self. The meditator sees this and seeks something greater beyond this self imposed prison of thought: the source of thought itself. The meditator enters the labyrinth of thought seeking a calm center, a beginning. Thus the meditator enters the manas- chakra.
Manas, as we have already indicated, represents the 'thinking' mind. If we trace thought back to where it came from we can then arrive at the source,emptiness1. 'Chakra' is a much abused term in new-age literature that can best be translated, 'channel-wheel'. It represent the vortex where opposites meet, the playground where the dance of opposing forces occurs. In the center they meet. Here is where stillness is achieved. This 'still point' is the center of the manas-chakra illustrated below.2
This chakra represents the course of meditation itself: from distractedness to calm center/unity. This journey has often been characterized as a struggle with the thinking mind, one of terse concentration, where the mind is forcibly fixed by the wills firm grasp in the direction of inner peace. Nothing could be more misleading than this image of eyebrow knitting fixation. The mind can be calmed by the mere intention of center-seeking. And of course 'monkey- mind' will wander, wandering only to be discovered in this wandering. The intention to center is repeated again and the mind finds a subtler circle to run upon. This process repeats itself, subtler and subtler, till 'think' is even surpassed,and the calm center is reached. This is the true inner labyrinth. Circle becoming inward seeking spiral; a spiral turning and reversing on itself in the ever present struggle between outward-going-mind and inward-going-mind.To the successful meditator, inward-seeking-mind wins out and real meditation is the prize. The successful yogin learns that there are many ways to attain this reconciliation of opposites: the inward verses outward going breath (until suspension of breathing and stillness is accomplished), or even by stilling the ever moving body.
In the yogic world view, the equilibration of opposites is shown in their representation of the subtle, pranic, body. In this view the energy body is shown as a central unified column or sushumna flanked by two opposing solar and lunar channels. Rising on this central channel are the various chakras or channel-wheels where the opposing forces meet. The mind can pierce at any of these points and find a calm center, an eye at the center of the storm.
The famous yogic maxim: "yatapinday yatapindah," : "as the macrocosm, so the microcosm, as the cosmic mind, so the individual mind, as the atom, so the universe," is elegantly demonstrated in the other levels of expression of the manas-chakra. It can be seen to represent the inter-dimensional junction point between opposing earth-energy lines on the earth's surface, the meeting of downward spiraling cosmic energy and upward spiraling earth energy (water domes), the rising serpentine 'Naga' intelligences (semi-divine serpent-beings) and the descending Devic or celestial intelligences or the superimposition of black-hole on white-hole. In yet another sense it is the entrapment of mind energy, mental patterns, in the very spirals of our own DNA: the genetic code.3 The levels of meaning are unending since the outer mirrors the inner and vice-versa, ad infinitum.
My own interest in the labyrinth came years ago, after an initiation that involved the descent into the underworld/labyrinth. After the ritual initiation, I had an unusual dream: I stood at the entrance to a vast cavern, which I knew to be the entrance to the labyrinth. Since I had previously experienced the possibility of entering the underworld, but was usually paralyzed with fear at doing so, I recalled those moments as I once again faced the opportunity to enter. Instantly, as I collected my thoughts, a ray from a star struck the entrance way, piercing through the very rock, through the intricate maze of the labyrinth (which seemed to extend for miles) and to the center, the heart of the earth. It was as if someone had shattered the intensely claustrophobic metallic rocks of the maze, opening up a path to enter. My fear had passed,so I descended the steep path till I reached the end. What I saw at the end was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. As I stood on the edge of a steep cliff, I looked out at the milky expanse of the stars, the brightest I ever remember seeing. Dancing amongst them were the colored orbs of the planets themselves. As I fixed my eyes on this wondrous sight, I could see the rays of light actually penetrating the very earth. I could feel a murmur, a vibration, as this took place through my feet. As I gazed at the walls of the cavern I could see the rays of cosmic light striking the cave walls. Then, eventually the murmur would come again. As it did,it was as if the rock somehow moved or pulsated. It reminded me of the moment in the life cycle of a cell, where it gives its last throb before undergoing division. The rock would briefly liquefy at this moment, and take in the vibrations of the stars and planets only to resolidify as the pulse faded. The rocks actually looked as if they were cellular, containing 'genetic'material. It was then that I finally understood the formula V.I.T.R.I.O.L.4
In India, temple architects will utilize this same principle to "establish"the foundation of a temple. A special yantra in the form of a labyrinth is used to stabilize the planetary beings (actually demons) associated with the maze and thus allow for the unimpeded invocation of the Gods/Goddesses.This would also explain the inclusion of labyrinths in the design of many cathedrals. The labyrinths act as a sophisticated kind of spirit trap, thus debilitating any malefic forces (see also The Gate of Algol). The labyrinth form is also connected with the underworld deity Yama, the Moon-bull5 - the judge of the dead (his Western counterpart later became known as Minos,the Cretan form of Apis). In Tibet Yama is worshipped in the form of the yidam (Tib.: "mind-protector") Yamantaka as a way to enter the Kalachakra, the Great Wheel of Time, which is the entranceway to the 'hidden land' of Shambhala. The Kalachakra Tantra is an extensive system complete with its own methods of cosmology, astrology and, by extension, geomancy.
As we tread this in ward path, the path of the manas-chakra, the mind-vortex, other levels constantly arise to show us the inter-relatedness of all parts of nature. This labyrinth can be seen as a place of inner initiation, a place where the junction point between spirit and matter can be understood.It is the place where the heart of the earth and the heart of man intermingle. Implicit in that relationship is the relationship with the whole, the greater universe, of which, humankind is part. As the astronomers and cosmologists of today point out: we come from a star, the Sun. Indeed, our entire 'solar' system comes from that same star. As inhabitants of this planet we built our bodies of the food derived from this 'star- stuff.' Thus, we truly are of the stars. Those who passed before, without benefit of telescope or satellite, knew this. The labyrinth is but one reminder of this spiral way of return, this great cosmic mystery.
Or as modern physicists would prefer: the 'unified field' or source of all diverse phenomenon such as light, gravity, and the forces of molecular attraction, the basis of all manifest creation.
The reader will notice the exacting similarity of the Manas-Chakra to the labyrinth of ancient Greece, along with that of medieval Europe. The question of origin may be a mute point as the discovery of such symbols is often known to occur simultaneously in very different places (vide, the discovery of Calculus by Newton & Leibniz). However, since before history Greece was connected via trade routes to the Indo-Himalayan region; this is a plausible route for such cultural diffusion. Also note: the labyrinth of Knossos in Crete was called "Absolum" by its discoverer (Dr.Evans of Oxford). Absolum=Absolute, the ancient alchemists name for the philosophers stone.
Or as some may hasten to point out, the true significance of Astrology: the imbedding of cosmic rhythms on DNA.
A notariqon being the initials of the phrase: "Visitae InterioraTerrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem,": Visit the interior parts of the earth: by rectification thou shalt find the hidden stone. See my Gate of Algol for the details of this discovery and its relationship to the heptagram, the planets, and time.
(5) Deities with the form of the bull are particularly ancient, dating to the Æon of Taurus, the time when the vernal Equinox coincided with the constellation Taurus.