Albion, Art, Books, Don and Wen

Prospecting for Ben… the interior castle

“May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”

Teresa of Ávila

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‘Ben’ is in prison. His own choices led him there and his incarceration begins at the end of Scions of Albion. He is, of course, a character in our books, but his journey is one we all share. Readers will know that there is a deeper current of symbolic meaning running through these books and may already equate Ben’s incarceration with the process of incarnation and spiritual growth.

The name for this character was not chosen at random. Amongst its many meanings ‘Ben’ means ‘son’ in Hebrew and may originate from the root benah… to build. It seems a perfect combination for those who consider the soul to be a child of the divine and who see the human personality as something built in response to life and experience… a ‘prison’ which can only be escaped by being dissolved, stone by stone.

The image that suggests a dark and foreboding prison was taken yesterday. The day was gloriously sunny, the location the beautiful village of Edensor in the grounds of Chatsworth house, possibly one of the most elegant villages one could find. The road that passes through the village is associated with the stories of an execution and a corpse road, yet on an August afternoon no thought of such gruesome tales come to mind. It is easy, however, to apply a filter to the mellow stone and riotous joy of flowerbeds and turn the place into something that appears more sinister, just as our personal vision of reality is viewed through a filtering lens and soft golden tones may become menacing shadows. The inner prison may be no more than a construct of the mind, yet what the mind perceives as real will colour its reactions to any given situation.

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Within the Silent Eye we use the symbol of the lens… or a series of nine lenses… to signify the basic personality types; groupings of conditioned reactions constructed in response to life-experience. While we all use aspects of each lens at various times, we do have a predisposition to view our world through one predominant lens that shapes our response to each new situation and encounter. The personality thus strengthens its own position and mode of operation, gradually building ever stronger walls about the inner spark of light.

It is true that walls confine, but they also protect and define the space within. Few things can be said to be categorically and exclusively negative…or positive, for that matter. Even personality is a double edged sword… we all want to be seen as having it, and would probably be happy to hear we are considered to have a lot of it… but would be far less pleased to be told we have a large ego. Yet ‘personality’ and ‘ego’ are in many ways synonymous; a gradually-building vehicle, a shell in which we move through life and within which we can choose to hide… or to explore.

The adventure faced by the spiritual seeker is an interior one, prospecting for inner gold. The method is similar to that of panning for that precious metal, sifting carefully and washing away the dross to reveal the gleaming motes of pure being. It is a paradox, for the inward journey taken alone leads to an expansion of awareness on all levels of being. The self-examination of the esoteric student is essentially no different from that of modern mindfulness techniques or the injunction to ‘know thyself’ written above the ancient portal of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. It requires the same dedication and clarity of vision, the same courage to explore the new that has produced artists and innovators, sages and mystics of every discipline, faith and path. Some have been revered during their own lifetime, many were not. Charles Darwin, Pablo Picasso, Sigmund Freud… names that have changed history, yet whose individual vision galvanised diametrically opposed opinions in their early days.

Dismissed as mavericks, seen as outlandish or irrelevant… as well as irreverent much of the time…running the gauntlet of accusations of heresy or un-orthodoxy in their field, it is often only when they are no longer alive… and therefore no longer a danger to established thought and methodology… that such people may be elevated to the rarefied air of appreciation, approbation or, for the religious, beatification.

Teresa of Ávila, for example, author of the quote at the head of this article, was beatified by the Catholic Church two decades after her death. Born in 1515, her family was of Jewish descent and fell under the eye of the Inquisition. Her own inner relationship with the divine was questioned and attributed to the devil by her confessor for many years, yet it is this interior dialogue for which she became known, leaving a legacy of spiritual writings that transcend their outer form of Catholic symbolism and practice, revealing a kernel of pure loving joy.

For Teresa, it was the Christ within. For others, that same spark of light is spirit, soul, being… or any one of a thousand different names. To the heart seeking to escape the apparent imprisonment and constriction of an immuring ego, the name does not matter.

What matters is the courage to seek inner freedom, moving through prison bars that become transparent with understanding, leaving behind the shackles of conditioned responses and fears, seeing the walls themselves as no more than the multi-coloured building blocks of heart and soul, stacked high by the hands of the inner child.

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