Is Life a Labyrinth or a Maze?

Do you think life is a labyrinth or a maze? I’ve recently been thinking more and more about this age-old philosophical question. Interestingly enough, I find that my answer is gradually changing from maze to labyrinth.

Have you ever tried walking a labyrinth? It’s different from a maze in that it has no dead ends and assuming you continuously walk the path, everyone will inevitably get to the center, the ultimate end point. On the other hand, with a maze, depending on the decisions you make at each cross road, you could encounter a dead end and never make it out.

In the modern world and especially in western culture, we are taught early on to view life as a maze. We are conditioned to take charge of life – set goals and strive to achieve them.  If you’re capable and brave enough, you will knock down doors, break barriers to create an “ending” for yourself – it’s a very solitary view and life really all comes down to you.  At the same time, if you don’t get your act together and make the wrong choices, you could bump into a dead end with no escape.

Most of my life, I’ve adopted this “maze” approach to life. It’s been exhilarating to think that the sky’s the limit and I own my destiny. However, there have also been times where I feel incredibly anxious and worry that my life could take the wrong turn and end up in shambles if I’m not careful. With my growing meditation practice, I’m seeing the value of viewing life more as a labyrinth. Not to say that we should all just relax and not work for things anymore. More in the sense that we shouldn’t forget our inherent connection to the outside world and the universe and trust in the natural flow of things. It’s about appreciating the harmony and connectivity of life rather than viewing life as a solitary journey. As Laozi famously said, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

As long as we don’t take drastic measures to deviate from the path and know to appreciate the experience of diligently moving forward with ease and confidence, perhaps we would all have a better journey. If life is indeed a labyrinth, wouldn’t it be a shame to creep too cautiously or stop and retreat thinking that we’re at an end point that actually turns out to be another fabulous beginning?

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