Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mandala or Mandorla?

"Happily...we have a solution. This is the mandorla... It is far too valuable a concept to have lost." Owning Your Own Shadow -- by R. Johnson

"Everyone knows what a mandala is, even though mandala is a Sanskrit idea borrowed from India and Tibet. A mandala is a holy circle or bounded place that is a representation of wholeness..... the Tibetan tanka [for example], a picture generally of the Buddha in his many attributes... Mandalas are devices that remind us of our unity with god and all living things."
Mandalas are found in places as diverse as a Tibetan monastery, an Indian ashram or a Christian cathedral. In the christian version, the mandala is most often represented as a rose flowering. It appears in Gothic architecture as a rose window,  frequently representing a healing symbol in christian mythology.

While mandalas are perhaps more familiar to many persons, the mandorla is an important symbol as well; during the Medieval age it was prevalent in many places. It has a healing effect, "but, as Johnson writes in his book, Owning Your Own Shadow,' it's somewhat different.
A mandorla is an almond shaped segment formed when two circles partly overlap."  This symbol is "nothing less than the overlap of opposites." It is often seen in spiritual terms as the overlap between heaven and earth, dark and light.
Each of us, at different moments in our every day existence, have the experience of the worldly demands which collide or conflict with our spiritual longings and desires.

It is within the ancient symbol of mandorla that we may be instructed so as to reconcile these demands and needs. In our lives, mandorla may act to remind us of our life as both earthly and heavenly.
The Christ depicted with his mother, Mary at his side, clearly makes the point (mandorla) how wonderfully true the affirmation of the feminine energy is in life, by assigning her in a place next to the majesty (masculine) which is the Christ.
Some of the most beautiful mandorlas in European monuments feature this particular subject. "The mandorla is so important in our torn world" that re-examining it is of great significance.
There is a tendency to divide the self, to banish elements of self and let them live unobserved alongside the "known" self.
However in doing so, considerable energy is sidelined into what is sometimes called the "shadow." But they will not stay hidden forever and have the habit of returning; asserting their energy, like it or not.

When that day of reckoning comes, and there may be many over a period of time, the mandorla is a wonderfully healing help. It begins to focus one upon the self and the re-emerging split. Mandorla starts first as something very tiny, a sliver really, and as it grows, greater overlap occurs; the self is re-made more whole, stronger and more complete.
Binding together, making holy the unholy; mandorla is a profound religious and spiritual experience. It is the place of poetry, where the fire becomes the rose, where this is that, where transformation is great synthesis.
The biblical story of the bush which burns, yet is not consumed is poetry leading to a new sense of wholeness, unity completed. The bush and its burning overlap. Healing begins in the space between. And mandorla is peacemaking.

"If your eye be seen, your whole body will be filled with light." Matthew 6:22

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