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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Symbols In Your Life


The symbolism of a lifetime can be filled with riches, but if you are incapable of seeing it, or if you don't understand what the symbols might be, or what they could mean, not only will your life be that much poorer, but it will lack a meaning and significance it might otherwise weave and stitch together gradually over the years, the same way ancient carpet and tapestry weavers spent a lifetime creating one or two masterpieces.

Symbols in an individual's life speak to a part that goes far beyond the ego. Symbols commune with the eternal self. Symbols are the language of the soul and can show the individual who is open to them and their significance, a richness of purpose and meaning, where another individual, blind to symbolic implications, would only see hardship, pain, and suffering.

While symbols are not only related to hardship and suffering, it is nevertheless true that it is precisely in those sectors where symbols can make the greatest difference to the way an individual is able to perceive the events of a lifetime ... not only in hindsight, but also at the time those events are occurring.

Symbolism is not only an arcane and obscure field of knowledge that went out of fashion in our instant everything world and that is found in fairy tales, fables, religion, and mythology, but symbolism is also the richness and core essence of an inner life well lived that concerns itself with meaning and purpose rather than with actual events.

The tools we can use for this are easily found in a multitude of sources. Joseph Campbell, the renowned mythologist, who was steeped in Jungian symbolism as well, was once asked why there are so many stories of the hero in mythology. He replied: Because that's what's worth writing about. Even in popular novels, the main character is a hero or heroine who has found or done something beyond the normal range of achievement and experience. A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.

Evidently since this applies to anyone's life, not just to Parsifal in The Holy Grail, or other mythic and epic heroes, this tool of knowledge of the symbolism of the hero's journey is useful to the individual interested in understanding what the events of his or her lifetime might symbolize. In that sense, a classic education is highly useful, as it prepares one -should one be so inclined - to this manner of symbolic introspection.

However, education is not necessarily a prerequisite for understanding and recognizing the symbols in one's life. No matter how well educated a person is, if the heart and the inner eye have not been opened to the life that lies beyond the ego, and to the personality that is not the ego, then there will be great difficulty in recognizing any manner of symbolic events taking place in the lifetime. Therefore, an important tool is the opening of that inner eye, or the willingness to listen to the inner voice - intuition - that is so often quelled, or rejected, scorned, or ignored.

Without understanding the symbols of a lifetime, so much is lost. One must even ask the question: in that case, what was the point?

Moving beyond the ego, into that inner space, into the field Rumi refers to is not the easiest thing to do as long as one has not actually experienced the richness it brings:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.

Because of that inherent - human - difficulty to move beyond the ego, to detach in the Buddhist sense of the word, albeit with the caveat that life in the world must continue, and full participation in the world must continue. Else, what was the point?

You see the dilemma. There must be the inner connection to the core, to the eternal self, to the soul. For this to occur, the ego must be seen as a mere vestment. And yet, there must be the outer connection as well. But the outer connection must not call the shots. It is the tool by which all else is honed, and in order for that to happen, the inner connection must remain in control, or at least, the personality must remember to visit it frequently, in order to use its intuitive understanding of symbols to comprehend the events that take place on the outer level.

If you have not been recognizing the symbols in your life, or if you have glimpsed them occasionally and decided not to take a closer look, I encourage you to do so now. To become more acquainted with them, to begin to comprehend the richness with which they can clothe your life, and the depths of understanding they can lend even the smallest, most ordinary quotidian occurrences, in order that your inner core be allowed the opportunity to travel - in knowledge, growth, and evolution - to the place it had always intended.

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