The Riddle of the Sphinx, Blog #2
Thousands of years before the birth of the Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth, and Mohammed, the ancient Egyptians were developing their own understanding of the psychology of the soul. The key to understanding the deeper nature of us humans was a symbol that most are familiar with: the sphinx.
The sphinx had the torso of a lion, the head of a human and the wings of an eagle.
The three aspects of the sphinx correspond to three- fold nature of the human person. The lion stands for our animal side, the head stands for our rational aspect and the eagle stands for our divine nature.
For us humans to live in balance, we must live according to our three -fold nature. Practically, that means that we must acknowledge and address all three aspects of our being. Deny our animality, our rationality or our divinity and we start heading for trouble.
Some try to live as if we are only animals and try to deny our rationality and/or divinity. For a while, such a lifestyle might seem to be fulfilling because of the pleasure that we experience. But eventually we end up feeling unsatisfied, not because there is anything in the slightest wrong with satisfying our primary needs. It is just that we are much deeper than that and something within invites us to transcend a life of exclusive sensuality.
Others try to live purely on a rational level and deny their animal and spiritual aspects.
These individuals try to live only on the level of thought or theories or abstractions. They neglect their animal side as unworthy and their spiritual side as superstitious. They are not able to bless their bodies or that wonderful part of us all that enables us to soar with eagle’s wings.
They plod along in the realm of ideas and concepts and never allow their bodies and minds to be set free. They tend to be uptight, repressed and carefully under control. These are the kinds of people who get more pleasure out of reading a menu than eating a meal.
Such a lifestyle is doomed to produce an unhappy person for the same reason that an exclusively animalistic approach to life does: we are made for more. The ancient Egyptians knew this. Repress our bodily needs and we are heading for trouble. Repress our rational side and we are also heading for trouble. One could also make the case, however, that if we repress our spiritual side we are likewise operating at less than our full potential.
Those consciously on the spiritual path also face the possibility of living lives out of balance. Sometimes people consciously on the spiritual path feel that they are being called upon to repress everything about their bodies and minds.
On the one hand we have those who try to act as if they have gone “beyond” their bodily needs. They have “outgrown” their need for sex and some even act as if they have outgrown their need for food. Someone once actually told me once that they believe very spiritually advanced beings can live just on air.
Other spiritual searchers may even become anti-intellectual for a while. You will hear them ridicule great thinkers and scientists. They have “God” and that is that. They don’t need anything else.
Perhaps we can get away with such attitudes for a while. But sooner or later we come crashing back to reality. We are body, mind and spirit and the life force within will not let us forget it.
One of the biggest mistakes is to think that we must choose one aspect of our nature over/against the others. That will never work in the long term. All three aspects of our nature have been put there by the Power that moves the universe. And all three aspects have their legitimate place.
It is relatively easy to suppress part of our nature for a time. The truly creative way to live, however, is to co-ordinate the various aspects of our being and to allow them their legitimate expression without taking over our entire beings.
The ancient Egyptians put it this way with their image of the sphinx: in every person there sleeps a beast, a human and a god. Our job at this stage of evolution is to accept and integrate all three aspects of our nature.
Next blog: The Dance of the Universe
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