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The perception of the Labyrinth Movement as an archetypal event moves it into the realm of synchronistic occurrences where inner and outer events coincide in a meaningful way. And even though such experiences are personally relevant, there is also about them a transcendent or universal quality. The boundaries that separate and divide are experienced as falling away in recognition of the common ground on which humanity as a whole stands united. This in itself is hopeful, and where, if our civilization is to survive much longer, we will need to go together.
Jung’s views on synchronicity support the labyrinth as an instrument by which events having no causal connection nevertheless do bear relevance to one another through their coincidence of meaning. This is particularly true when the events in question are occurring as both outer and inner events. Jung proposed that instruments of divination, such as the I Ching, operate on the principle of synchronicity. And it is probable that he would have concurred that the labyrinth, as an archetypal phenomenon of significant magnitude, is therefore a likely instrument for the constellation of meaningful coincidences.
Synchronistic occurrences, in that they are where the personal and the collective merge, can be observed in the many new ways labyrinths are bringing lives together. This, at least, has been our experience at Murray Creek.
Towards Gaining a Perspective that Transcends Personality
Inner work, as well, is greatly facilitated by a person’s ability to relate an outer event or situation to an inner one, and to then discern the similarity of meanings inherent to both. In this way it becomes possible to move out of a purely subjective stance in order to discern the larger purposes and tasks to which lives may be called into cooperation.
But sometimes being on a journey with others necessitates seeking creative ways to resolve conflict. Those who have experienced the wisdom of the I Ching often note its uncanny capacity to provide the degree of objectivity necessary in order to make choices that can lead to constructive resolutions. Seeking wisdom, however, is not enough; one also must be open to receive it. And it is towards a state of receptivity to insight and guidance that "threading a labyrinth" can lead.
In addition to the circular motion of walking a labyrinth, there is a rhythmically-balanced, and therefore balancing, interchange of directions and recursive movements. The processes by which a problem is resolved and a creative work completed are much the same. Both require seeing the central objective from all possible angles; sometimes moving in close to the goal and feeling it is within reach, only to be led once again back out and away. This sense of feeling close to and then far away from attaining one's goal is central to the creative process. It can be heard in music, observed in the visual arts, and of course in dance, which may have been how labyrinths were first traced. Similarly, when a matter of inquiry is symbolically placed in the center of the labyrinth, then, metaphorically speaking, it can be viewed from every possible angle and from varying distances. Simultaneous to the movement and the rhythm is a heightening of one's receptivity to intuitive insight.
The Inner Journey
If in walking the labyrinth the consideration is a need for insight into how one's inner journey is being blocked by unconscious factors, the same heightened state of receptivity applies as above. The circulatory process can also be how one's inner defenses are dismantled--how the old is de-structured in order for some necessary psychic reconstruction to take place.
Edward Edinger has described the circumambulatory process as how a complex is dissolved. He has compared this to how the walls of Jericho were brought down. Interestingly, there are old images which show the plan of the City of Jericho as a labyrinth. In any event, Yahweh's instructions to Joshua were to march completely around the city once each day for six days and on the seventh day to go around seven times, after which the ram's horn was to be blown. And as we know, the walls did collapse. Left at that, it is an action Bible story kids like to re-enact. But in terms of the inner journey, Edinger explains:
While engaged in circumambulating a labyrinth, one can expect resolution to come as insight into how the outer situation is a reflection of some inner state, condition or pattern. And in inner work, this kind of insight is how the unconscious hold of old, patterned responses is broken. In this case, the labyrinth is walked with the intention of gaining insight that will lead to a new freedom of choice and the ability to make more creative, Self enabling determinations.
Undoubtedly, there are many different ways the sacramental approach to the labyrinth is being experienced. As these are shared others will not only benefit from them but be able to build on them. Questions to address in deepening the sacramental function of the labyrinth might be:
Being in the labyrinth with a group sufficiently large to represent a cross section of humanity can be a deep and meaningfully experienced metaphor for life, when, at any given moment, some are just beginning their journeys and some ending them; some are walking closely together, going in the same direction, while others are singly passing by going in the other direction; but those who meet at the center are experiencing one another uniquely as neither coming nor going but as simply being together for the moment--or, in the Eternal Now. In this way, how the labyrinth "works" is also how the continuity of life works.
By design, the center of the labyrinth is where the sacred is most intensely experienced. It is where the vertical and horizontal dimensions of life meet or interface. And perhaps this is why the center of the labyrinth is where persons sometimes (often spontaneously) experience being in communion with loved ones no longer physically present.
As Field of Influence
Another matter of inquiry might be:
My sense is that the field of influence of a particular labyrinth is in direct ratio to the conscious intent of those who walk it. If so,
Sri Aurobindo of India was a well-known nineteenth/twentieth century mystic. Once he had attained a fairly constant level of consciousness he described as supramental, he then devoted many hours of each day to walking the gardens of his ashram for the purpose of “bringing heaven to earth.” After his example, Christians could well say the Lord’s Prayer, the Rosary, the Jesus Prayer, or some other "mantra" as a vehicle of awareness and affirmation as to the inseparable and interpenetrating nature of spirit and matter.