I remember the first time I read and consciously thought about the ‘wheel of fate’ motif: it was whilst I was at university studying Arthurian literature and one of the stories made reference to it in the context of the glorious rise, and tragic fall, of Camelot.
At the time, I thought it was poetic but ultimately depressing that someone could strive to bring a perfect, pure, well-intentioned dream -a Golden Age, such as what Camelot was intended to be – into reality only for it to inevitably shatter into pieces as per the demands of fate. It made me think about the pitfalls and lows in our individual lives, and the idea that for every achievement there must be a failure left me feeling quite morose.
But, this comes from thinking that the low points in life are bad. We can’t be blamed for thinking of them this way; after all, we define ‘low points’ as periods of difficulty, sadness or strife. And we instinctively resist anything that doesn’t make us feel good.
Yet, as time went on and I learned more about spiritual teachings, I drew some comfort from the notion that the Universe and everything in it (us included!) was constantly moving and evolving in a dance of creative and destructive energies. Nothing in this Universe can be stagnant and you can’t fight the tides of life any more than you can fight against an ocean wave. Furthermore, destruction is an intrinsic part of creation, and destructive doesn’t necessarily equate to bad. Therefore, we have to submit and roll with the wave; once it passes, we can stand back up again a little wiser and more enlightened.
But, I found it difficult to align these ideas with the teachings that ‘we are in control of our own destinies’, ‘life is what you make it’, and ‘you can have a wonderful, happy, prosperous life!’. How can we have the blissful lives we all want if it is some unmitigated law of nature that “up” comes with “down”, and that just beyond every happy moment is a shadow lurking in wait?
Today, I realised that it is all to do with how we have culturally conditioned ourselves to view “down” as some dark place to be avoided at all costs. When we find ourselves there, we can’t cope. I am currently in the middle of reading The Book of SHE by Sara Avant Stover, and it is really helping to change my perspective. It’s all about learning to bring our ‘shadow’ self into our conscious mind. In our shadow resides all the repressed feelings and aspects of ourselves that we either don’t want to deal with, or have been taught to hide. When we repress these aspects of ourselves, we are essentially living as only half of ourselves. Then, when life seems to get rough we can’t deal with it because we are out of balance. We haven’t boldly looked at the things that scare us most straight in the eye.
Anger, for example, has tremendous power. When it is repressed and denied it turns into rage and leads us to do things we later regret. We can’t grow as people or spiritual beings without first facing up to emotions like anger, accepting it and then channelling that energy into something more constructive.
Love, after all, isn’t just light, gentle, fluffy romance stuff. Love is bold, fierce, and powerful like the molten core of the Earth burning brightly in the centre of your soul, driving all the movements on your surface. Love is a cute bunny rabbit and a feisty tigress. It can blast away anything. The same energy that powers anger, powers love. It is just that love is a more balanced outpouring of energy, harnessing the whole.
Don’t shy away from the rough times. Don’t feel like it is a period of failure (either like you are a failure, or that life has failed you). When you feel lost, like you don’t know who you are, remember that it is probably Life coming in to forcefully blast away walls of fear or delusion that you had unconsciously been hiding behind.
So, I think the Wheel of Fate isn’t about preordained suffering but rather is a symbol of the ever evolving rhythm of Life, the Universe, and us. Immensely powerful energies drive the movement of the Universe, permeating everything. Waves erode and shape continents anew, gravity creates and destroys planets, and our emotions are constantly remaking us.
It is a massive topic that is impossible to cover fully in one blog post, but I guess what I am trying to say is that the “down” periods don’t have to be feared. They aren’t a punishment, and you shouldn’t run and hide from them (in truth, you can’t anyway). They are a natural, and an opportunity for tremendous growth and creativity.
There is as much beauty in the Night as there is in the Day, though they appear very different Embrace the ups and downs as vital elements in your exploration of Life in this vibrant, mysterious, wondrous, all-powerful, multi-faceted, and ever-evolving Universe.