Visiting the local labyrinth

After consulting the Canberra labyrinth map I decided to visit the 5 senses labyrinth on the flanks of Mt Ainslie. On the way I accidentally drive through a school zone too fast and get caught by one of those camera vans so I am not feeling all that relaxed as I park and begin to make my way up the steep walk along a rocky path. Soon I am surrounded by squawking birds and lizards slithering hurriedly away, and bees busily visiting the manifold wild yellow flowers. As the path lurches upward, I find my heart is pumping and the sweat washes away the events of the city. I pass a jogger, then turn off the main path, following a  fork in the path, I find without difficulty the small handmade labyrinth under a tree on a flat piece of ground, it’s edges defined by sticks and rocks, laid and tended by many hands, with clearly worn pathways from the footsteps of past visitors. All around the edges of the pathways sprout a delightful variety of wildflowers and flowering weeds, mustard weed, little blue and pink flowers of some kind, flowering clovers.  It is very pretty and peaceful and with no-one about I can walk unselfconsciously and with no distractions.

I start the walk with palms pressed together, but my bag is still on my shoulder and I soon realise it is in the way so I drop it on the path after a few steps to collect on the way out. Heading into the labyrinth, it’s funny, but for a microsecond I notice the arising of a doubt: “will this path actually lead me to the centre?”. How amusing, that even when there are no grounds for doubt whatsoever (as one can see at the outset that indeed the path does lead to the centre), still doubt arises.  I take this as an insight into the tenacity of doubt, the irrationality of it. How much more difficult to subdue doubts it is when the destination is less certain, as it usually is in life. I walk slowly, taking my time, moving through dappled patches of shade from a large old eucalypt that looms over the pathways. Halfway along one path, I pause to reposition a piece of timber from the path edge which had been displaced probably by some kangaroo or wallaby hopping past. It occurs to me that repairing the path, for those who come next, is part of the journey along the path. Correcting the misalignments that arise with the passage of time. I wonder if this is analogous to the role of the Bodhisattva; pausing to assist others is just part of the passage along the way, it is not a distraction. After about 10 minutes I find myself in the centre. There is a collection of objects, feathers, leaves, and many small ‘porcupine’ seedpods from the casuarinas nearby, that fellow travellers have left before me. There is a wooden box nestled in the grass. I lift the lid, and find more left objects and a few little notebooks inside, containing messages from passers-by. I read a few lines, but leave it alone, closing the lid I stay simply in silence for a while. I have a feeling that I don’t want to leave the labyrinth and return to the world. But I have a tutorial for my course in Buddhist philosophy in just an hour’s time so I have to get moving. On the way out I feel the worries of the world slowly approaching, but I am somehow a bit better prepared, centred, ready for it. I come across my bag which I’d left on the path just a few steps in from the entrance and lift it onto my shoulder. And then I recollect the speeding ticket.

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