A few months ago, I became very interested in mandalas after reading some of Carl Jung’s writings. I began to explore the idea and practice of mandalas because I felt like it could help me grasp my ideas in an abstract manner; therefore, giving me an avenue to access the deeper, unconscious mind.
Let me state that I am not a sketch artist. I wouldn’t even say I’m an amateur. Although, that may change over the years. Up until this point, any creative, artistic works I’ve produced in my past has been relegated to music.
Nevertheless, we all must explore new skills and experiences to grow. The interesting fact about this is due to epigenetics. What I mean by this is that we have certain genes that are turned on and turned off. These genes get expressed differently depending upon the conditions affecting the organism. In the simplest description, your body will turn on and off certain genes in an attempt to best help you survive or procreate in the environment that you are in.
Therefore, in order to grow, we must encounter new conditions to gain access to new biological expressions, which will translate into being able to access different patterns of behavior. There is another model coming that I will explain in more detail regarding the symbolism and psychological significance of the cross. For now, just know that exploring new experiences and facing the unknown is the pathway to personal growth.
The four triangular quadrants represent, in clockwise order, the child, adolescent, adult, and elder. Each stage of psychological development contains a virtue and a flaw. Each transfer between stages contains a significant event and depending upon the subject’s attitude towards the natural change can open the door for growth or pathology.
Keep in mind that this is not fully flushed out, but the beginnings of A foundational idea that has sat in my unconscious mind for some time.
Stage 1: The Child
Initiating event: birth/rebirth
Description: The subject who is in the child stage sees the world with wonder and awe. Everything is novel due to lack of experience; therefore, idealism is highly present and knowledge is low. This represents the beginning of a new psychological journey.
Transfer event: death of the ideal
This event occurs when the child encounters experience that causes the death of their idealism through the introduction of knowledge that contradicts the perfect idea, which immediately thrusts the child into chaos. Example: betrayal
Stage 2: The Adolescent
Initiating event: voluntary acceptance
Description: The naive, innocent child has become an aware, and often cynical adolescent. The adolescent is in the realm of chaos, which is where new knowledge comes and also new fears. Depending upon how the adolescent responds to this new knowledge could lead towards cynicism about the ideal or deeper knowledge and context about how the ideal manifests itself in the world. Either way, the adolescent eventually descends further downward to a pinnacle point where the adolescent must face the reality that knowledge is not enough. One must take right action to move forward.
Transfer event: Realization that knowledge alone is insufficient.
Stage 3: The Adult
Initiating event: Begins to embody knowledge through action
Description: The subject who is in the adult stage has taken responsibility for all the choices that contributed to the subject’s current predicament. Thus, the sign of an adult psychologically is to take responsibility for reducing one’s unnecessary suffering and the unnecessary suffering of others. Heroes are made here. The ultimate expression of the adult is to refresh the calcified, old world with a resurrection of the ideal.
Transfer event: External world stabilizes no longer needing intervention.
Stage 4: The Elder
Initiating event: Rejection of subject as unnecessary.
Description: The subject who is in the elder stage has to embrace the role of the guide for society. As the elder cooperates with dynamic, the subject moves closer and closer to the embodiment of the ideal at the top of the mandala. But, this is not the end. The true end of the elder and the mandala is a return to the beginning. The elder must embrace a childlike mentality again without forsaking wisdom. Should an elder reject this transition to the child, the subject will age bitterly like rotting fruit. Should a an elder embrace the transition properly, he/she will be able to live in the moment fully in a context that is based in real experience. Thus, the elder avoids the trap of idealism. The final end is death. The cycle begins again with rebirth.
If you made it down here, I thank you. I will be writing other blog posts to map this model into real-life scenarios and situations. This way, you can see the application.