Beyond the Cocoon: Getting Lost in the Labyrinth of Enlightenment

“The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.” ~ Walker Percy

Too many of us are not onto something. Too many of us are in despair. This is usually because we’re still stuck in the Matrix, or in Plato’s Cave, or we’re still locked into a codependent struggle with culture, or we haven’t entered our cocoon phase yet.

Or we’ve yet to experience a Dark Night of the Soul, or we haven’t engaged and reconciled our Shadow, or we have yet to be initiated into a Soul-centric perspective because we’re too caught up in an egocentric perspective. The list goes on.

This article isn’t about how to work through these things. This article is about how to get lost in the process of enlightenment after we’ve worked through these things. What do we do with the codependent residue? How do we adapt to the Desert of the Real?

What do we do with infinity? How do we negotiate the Great Mystery? How do we continue self-overcoming in a cosmos that dwarfs the self? What do we do with so many questions and no answers?

Beyond the cocoon. Beyond the Dark Night of the Soul. Beyond the Shadow. Beyond the process of initiation. Beyond the buckling thresholds. There is a place called The Labyrinth of Enlightenment.

Here, the journey is the thing. The search is the thing. Here, a sense of humor, curiosity, and imagination are strategies that an enlightened adventurer uses to leverage his/her personalized finite Fibonacci sequence (individuated ego) toward the cosmic infinite Phi (self-actualized soul). Here, the continued search for your most authentic self is the objective.

But it’s not an objective that must be met. It’s not a goal to be achieved. It’s an evolution to be lived through. It’s an adventure to be had in the moment. It’s a journey to be experienced.

It’s a process of trial and error, of ups and downs, of being mostly wrong but (maybe) sometimes right. Most of all, it’s about being okay with getting lost in the existential crisis of not knowing who we are or what the universe is.

Ironically, there’s perhaps no better way of finding your most authentic self than by getting lost. Especially if we can somehow manage to transform being lost into a meditation. When we’re in this state of being lost, we discover solitude.

Solitude is beatitude. It is oneness and grace, interdependence and sacred space. It’s being in love with simply being an aspect of an interconnected cosmos.

As Henry David Thoreau said, “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

If it’s true that the more we know the more we realize how much we don’t know, then it stands to reason that there will always be more that is unknown than known. This is a daunting prospect. Especially for someone fresh out of the cocoon/Dark Night/Matrix/Cave.

Hence the reason why it is called the Labyrinth of Enlightenment. One can easily get lost. One can easily become bewildered by the search, confused by the signs, perplexed by the vicissitudes, and mystified by the Greater Mystery of the cosmos. It’s a big universe out there, after all, but we have big imaginations.

Surviving what we’ve survived, adapting and overcoming as we have, our imaginations are big indeed. Our comfort zones have been stretched enough that we realize everything is connected to everything else.

Our individuality, having overcome codependence, has gracefully given into interdependence. The cosmos is our oyster, and we are her polished pearls. That is precisely why it’s okay to get lost. As long as we’re “onto something.” As long as we’re already in the Labyrinth of Enlightenment.

As the Buddha clearly stated, “There are two mistakes one can make along the road to Truth: Not going all the way, and not starting.”

We’ve already “started” by escaping the Matrix/Cave, by surviving the cocoon and/or the Dark Night, by overcoming the codependent ego. Now, we have only to “go all the way.” And that means getting lost sometimes. That means being confused, overwhelmed, full of questions, and in a constant state of awe.

If the journey is truly the thing, then it’s okay to get lost. It’s okay that we don’t know. It’s okay that we don’t have the answers. It’s okay that we will never find our way out of the maze. It’s okay that our finite perspective cannot grasp an infinite reality.

It’s even okay that we sometimes give in to the psychosocial gravitational pull of the codependent Matrix from time to time. It’s okay that inside our enlightened butterfly souls there will always be an ugly ignorant caterpillar.

The more we adapt to our own self-improvement, and the more we overcome our previous selves, the more we realize how impossible it is to be perfect or to be completely enlightened. And that too is okay. On a long enough timeline nothing is perfect. Our sense of humor is our saving grace.

Getting lost keeps us humble. It keeps us grounded. It keeps us in a constant state of astonishment, so that we are better able to appreciate beauty, to honor paradox, to be open to new experiences, to be flexible and adaptable rather than closed off and dogmatic, to be humorous and vulnerable rather than serious and invulnerable.

We’re in the Goddamned Labyrinth of Enlightenment, for fu$@s sake! There’s no room for the kind of thinking that traps us into “not being onto something.” There’s no room for a lack of imagination that traps us into “not going all the way.” There’s no place for “I’m afraid of being lost” because being lost is what we are at the core of our species.

The raw, deep-down, claws-in-heart truth is that we are a profoundly overwhelmed animal dwarfed by a magnanimously unintelligible universe. Being lost is what we are. And that’s okay. We might as well embrace it. We might as well have a laugh about it.

So, I implore you, you who have painstakingly entered the Labyrinth of Enlightenment with courage in your heart and laughter in your throat, get lost as fast as possible. Wander aimlessly in the maze of You. Become “aware of the search.” Therein will you discover adventure, hunger, passion, love, and the kind of courage that multiplies itself.

After all, it is only when you’re lost that you need to be found. And since our objective is to discover our most authentic self, being lost is the only way to be “found.”

Image source:

Christian Hopkins Photography
By Andy Kalin

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Gary Z McGee
Gary Z McGee
Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.