At first there are only confused images. I try to return to familiar places: the Temple, the Forest of Branching Paths, the Sun Prairie… But they slip away without coming into focus. I blink, look at the flame again, allow my frustration to pass. I try to focus on visualizing a single tree, a pool of water with light rippling, a mossy stone… Nothing. I can’t hold on to anything. Again, I breathe, look at the flame, and allow the frustration to pass. Sometimes it seems like 90% of all meditative practice is learning to forgive yourself for not meditating… I try again.
Oh yes! There it is.
I’ve come to realize that the geography of my inner landscape reflects my personal spiritual journey.
The inner landscape I visit most often in meditation consists of a number of consistent regions. I’ve described them in detail in other articles, but in brief they are:
The Abyss of Fear
A bottomless chasm that radiates terror. It is always dark at its edge — although no stars are visible in the sky — but everything is lit by an unholy blue light. A path, unevenly paved, leads away from its edge into…
The Forest of Branching Paths
The path gradually becomes completely unpaved, lined with springy fallen leaves. It is a wood of oak and birch. The forest is pitted with hidden dells and valleys, waterfall-fed pools frequented by goddesses, nymphs, and less pleasant things. A web of footpaths weaves among the trees, and one can frequently find souls wandering along them – I have encountered ancestors, minstrels, a band of thieves, and hidden realms of other people entirely. But if you follow the right paths, you will eventually come to…