The Maze

There is no way out of this maze. This realization has occurred to me time and time again, and yet I have dismissed it—the truth could not possibly be so horrible, or so beautiful. There is something inside me that pushes me to keep looking.

When I cast my mind back through time, I must admit I do not know how long I have been in the maze. Certainly, I suspect there was a time that I was not in the maze. Perhaps I even have dim memories of that time, a time of freedom on wide open plains that invite the eyes and mind to become boundless. The open plains, the open sky—the ideas are there, so I must have once experienced such things…

What was it drew me to the maze? What compelled me to enter the gate (if there was one), close my eyes, and allow myself to become completely lost? Had I any inkling of what would ensue? Could I fathom the vastness of time in seeking, how time slows to an agonizing crawl even as it suggests hopeless infinities?

I recount the times I thought I had found the way out. Strategies, plans, maps, all promising final deliverance. I followed them eagerly, and the others did too—though I sometimes imagine the others are mere hallucinations of the maze. We went left, and right, and straight, and left again, and certainly the maze was changing, the walls were becoming translucent, the light a bit brighter, sure signs that the exit was in sight… And yet, here I am. Am I any wiser than I was before? I am still lost, utterly lost, utterly trapped.

And yet, this is not said in despair. There were periods of despair, and perhaps there will be more. At a point, even despair becomes futile. Despair does not open the doors any more than hope does. Honestly, I have grown weary of despair and hope. I would rather leave them both behind. It is not a matter of trading them for something greater, a higher or more pure consciousness. No, it is simply a matter of letting go.

The maze is not without its pleasures. Maybe that is why we are here in the first place, though that feels a shallow answer. There are many here who go in search of the pleasures of the maze, though as I said, they may simply be the maze showing me my own reflection. But I have come to know this maze, and I have seen that its pleasures and its pains are not separate—they are the two faces of the same beast. Whatever the pleasure gives the pain takes away, and there is no sense in seeking this cycle. Again, it is not a matter of judgment. It has simply become senseless for me. The beast will come whether I seek it or not.

And now I am coming to see that there is no difference in seeking the beast or seeking an escape. Whether I search for the center or search for the way out, I am still searching. And my searching always leads me back to where I started: right here.

The maze is very cunning. If I am looking for signs that I am approaching my goal, I see them everywhere. It shows me what I want to see; it shows me what I expect to see; it shows me what I fear to see. It shows me whatever will keep me entangled, whatever will keep me seeking.

There is no way out of this maze. Looking for a way out only makes it stronger, tightens its snares. Look on me in compassion, you who see how I build my own hell…

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5 thoughts on “The Maze”

      1. Ojai treating me well, spring comes in next week. if you are interested in some drawings plse consider taking my survey at rocketbuddha.com! you have plans to be in calif this summer? doing any service, i’m considering a ten day once school is over (i substitute teach)

      2. Yes, I am in California, in San Jose right now maybe I’ll be in the Santa Cruz area this summer. Not sure about dhamma service, we’ll see what happens. Things are pretty up-in-the-air as of late.

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