“The approaches and entrances to temples are flanked and defended by colossal gargoyles: dragons, lions, devil-slayers with drawn swords, resentful dwarfs, winged bulls, These are the threshold guardians to ward away all incapable of encountering the higher silences within … They illustrate the fact that the devotee at the moment of entry into a temple undergoes a metamorphosis.” – Joseph Campbell
As part of preparing for the next retreat, I’ve been reading a lot about door ways, entrances, gates and thresholds. This quote by Joseph Campbell, and the ideas that scary forms hide in the doorways of our own transformation is fascinating. They are there to discourage, to frighten you from entering in to true soul work. Just as a gargoyle might stand atop a tall building to frighten away unwanted spirits, it seems that the same kind of fears, whether they be in a person’s own mind, or from ill advice from others, lay dormant as we search for the true meaning of our life.
These gargoyles and scary figures around the doors to our heart are our very own excuses for why we can not do something, why we can not change and why we are “stuck” in our own current situation. These haunts are the reasons we assign for keeping the doors to our heart and soul locked shut. Somewhere, deep in your mind, you know this to be true. It is more frightening to face our potential and live our dreams than to stay in our usual day to day routine.
At the center of this issue is the ego, which very much prefers the easy path in life because it gives the ego a chance to shine. On the easy road, the ego owns all the glory, it dominates everything else. When one is on the easy, unchallenged, ego filled path, one goes unchallenged.
Let’s face it, our egos are attracted to shiny, pretty things. Fast cars, beautiful people, fashionable clothing, expensive restaurants and “the good life.” In a way, this fascination with shiny objects reminds me of the raccoons described in “Where the Red Fern Grows;” they will grab on to a sparkly trinket in a trap and refuse to let go of it. A raccoon’s interest in these pretty baubles will cause them to hold on to it until the hunter and his dogs come for him.
Originally uploaded by h.heiserman
Our egos are like that raccoon, drawn to sparkly pretty things, easy things. But do each of us see the trap that sits around our decisions made and powered by our egos alone? Our soul and our passion, our spirit are being ignored in these moments. The facets of our spirit begin to whither and die in the trap of the ego.
Until each of us let go of the ego, recognizing it for being obsessed with sparkly distractions, we will be stuck in its trap. In reality, these distractions, of ego, of shiny baubles, of empty promises are in fact the gargoyles that lie on the path to try to frighten us away from fulfilling our promise of this life.
If one can slay these dragons and winged bulls of ego, as it attempts to draw our attention away from our true purpose, this person has a real chance at reaching the door to their soul and heart. While there may be much uncertainty, some fear, some things left unknown, the path to the heart’s threshold holds the most rewards. When one chooses to follow one’s passions and live in spirit, they will begin to reap the benefits of living an inspired life. Sometimes it takes hard work and dedication to reach the door, but once it is opened with love and purpose, a person’s life is changed, transformed, as they journey onward to new heights of inspiration.