The Inner Journey

I had, for a long while, been addicted to self development. It was like peeling onion layers; more were always waiting for you to deal with. But I was determined to recover from the effects of crippling emotional baggage I'd carried since childhood. I’d felt an outsider most of my life, especially at school, even though there were times when I was popular. I rarely felt happy inside, even though I had a smile on my face much of the time. It started in early childhood. I wasn’t as bright as my older brother and younger sister; I wasn’t as pretty as my two younger sisters. Mum didn't actually say the words, but when she talked, and she talked a lot,  I read between the lines: 'He's a genius... she's pretty...' etc etc. There was more to it than that, there always is...  But I grew up believing I was unworthy: stupid, ugly. It was all untrue and  I couldn't shake it off as I grew. I believed it at my core. The change in me started around the time leading up to, and immediately after, my father’s stroke. It would take a long time, and much inner work on my part, to rid me of the bad feelings I carried about myself.

I manage to write more in winter, because there's not the pull of the outside and nature:  swimming, walks in the sun by the sea and all that to tempt me. It's always been a problem for me, the attraction of outside activities versus the obsession to work on my writing. And it's not always easy to find a balance. Now, I love the feeling of being inside, safe and sound, and warm, while watching the rain sleeting down outside the window. That's why I choose a table by the window, if possible, when I work in the Pavilion next door to where I live. It's a question of the early bird gets the worm, of course, as the best locations are popular with other laptop workers, too.inside-pavilion-rain-coogee Upstairs is a wine bar, which opens at 12 pm, and is a lovely place to welcome friends for a bite to eat and a drink. The decor is fancy, old-fashioned and includes a "Mad Professor" theme in glass boxes, with natural specimens such as birds' eggs and ancient bones inside to look at. It reminds me of my husband, Mark Onslow, a professor in Speech Pathology, who fits in well there, with his scholarly ways of deeply examining everything in his field of study.

Several years ago, a young Englishwoman donned a backpack, set out for Australia and rented premises in Bondi; she'd brought the New Kadampa Tradition to Sydney from the United Kingdom. The beautiful Manjushri Temple is in the Conishead Priory near the Lakes District. This temple was constructed by the faithful from the ruins of an old building, inspired by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the well-loved leader of the group in the West.

The beliefs and teachings departed little from the Dali Lama's philosophy, however one particular difference became grounds for political dispute at one stage, which is when I decided to leave the group. NKT followers are taught to worship a warrior deity from the ancient practices, Dorje Shugden, who is said to protect the purity of the Dharma—the practices that need to be performed and protected for a happy and peaceful life. In a photograph, Dorje Shugden is depicted on a ferocious lion's back bearing a sword in his right hand. The Dali Lama distanced himself from the NKT practices by criticising the adherence to the warrior deity Dorje Shugden.

It is striking how ancient myths link up with modern-day thought, concerns and religious ideas. For the ancient Greeks, Pandora represented the first woman, part of a creationist myth, comparable to Eve in the creation myth of Abrahamic religions.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="75"]Symbol of the three Abrahamic religions. Symbol of the three Abrahamic religions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption] I like the artist Dante Rossetti's interpretation of Pandora in the feature here, as it highlights the fact that she was not a real woman, but an archetype or metaphor representing a paradoxical idea. According to the myth, Pandora was given a box, or more correctly, a jar by Zeus, who commanded her not to open it. When she did so in secret, out flew all the 'evils' of the world, leaving only 'hope' in the bottom of the jar. This is a simplified version of the parable, as I'm interested mainly in its relationship with human thought--and with wanting to know--and its implications for humankind. I see Pandora as a symbol of duality: male/female; desire to know/need to love; heaven/earth; good/evil; spirit/flesh and life/death.