Book Club Channel
The Lotus and the Lily: A Book Excerpt
I stared hard at the sphere, trying to capture every detail in my memory. When I relaxed my attention, I noticed that the golden threads of my sphere were connected to other spheres, which were connected to still others, reaching into infinity. Everything and everyone was connected in clear black space.
I glanced back at my personal sphere because something was moving. The lily petals were coming to life. A stem began to grow down from the petals. Then a couple of leaves sprouted and finally roots spread out from the stem. I could see - literally—how everything in my life had led to, fed, and become my present.
When the vision was complete, I whispered thank you and slipped into a sweet sleep. The next morning, I thanked the Voice for this extraordinary image. On my own, I said, I would never have realized a two-dimensional mandala is really a three-dimensional globe. But I had one question the vision hadn't answered. "How," I wrote, "can I move my mandala—my life and myself—up closer and closer to the Light?" My hand wrote two words in big capital letters: SAY YES! I smiled. Of course! I had put my intentions out there; now all I had to do was say yes to everything heaven arranges—yes to guidance; yes to invitations, whether I understand them or not; yes to ideas; yes to intuition; yes to urges; yes to life. I grabbed a piece of paper, wrote yes! in huge letters, and taped it to my bedroom wall. Now, when I open my eyes, I see the call to yes!
My first call to yes was to learn about mandalas. I began with Mandala: Journey to the Center by Bailey Cunningham, founder of the Mandala Project. This book, filled with beautiful pictures that demonstrate the presence of mandalas in every form and aspect of life, was the perfect introduction. Look up: the sky is full of giant mandalas—our earth, the planets, stars, galaxies. Look in: our world is constructed of tiny mandalas—atoms and subatomic particles. Look around: everything is a mandala—your eye, a volcano, snowflakes, sunflowers, spider webs. Our world is a mandala, and everything in it is arranged according to the golden ratio, an ancient Indian formula introduced to the West in the thirteenth century by the brilliant Italian mathematician Fibonacci. Have you heard of Fibonacci numbers? They are an infinite sequence in which each number is the sum of the two before. Begin with zero and 1 and then 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 2+1=3, 3+2=5, 5+3=8, 8+5=13, 13+8= 21, etc. This sequence is the structure of the Golden Spiral on which all life is based.
Every living thing follows this sequence. The arrangements of artichoke leaves, pine-cone bracts, sunflower seeds, fern fronds, and tree branches are all living expressions of Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Spiral. A slice of a nautilus shell displays this geometric form perfectly. Look: life itself is a living, breathing mandala.
From our earliest history, humans have intuited the power and importance of the circle. In her gorgeous Sacred Geometry Oracle Deck, Francene Hart explains why: "This most basic of geometric shapes contains within it a doorway to inner realms that has informed and inspired cultures and individuals since the beginnings of humankind." Our first art, a pattern of concentric circles leading to a center point, was pounded into a rock 50,000 years ago by Aborigines in Australia. Our earliest spiritual gathering places were mandalas. Newgrange, a circular mound of earth protecting tombs and passages, was constructed in Ireland in 3200 BCE. Only in the 1960s did an Irish professor discover that it is aligned perfectly with sunrise on the winter solstice. Our most famous and mysterious Neolithic sacred site is Stonehenge. We do not know why it was built or how it was used, but we can't miss that it is a massive stone mandala. All spiritual traditions express the union of the human and the divine with this sacred geometric shape. The Native American medicine wheel, the dome of a mosque, the labyrinth and rose window at Chartres, Celtic crosses, the yin-yang symbol—all are mandalas. But perhaps no culture has perfected the mandala like the Tibetan Buddhists. The intricacy and beauty of a Tibetan sand mandala simply take the breath away.