Garian's Mandala


fulnew2wIt should be noted that Garian's Mandala is not a religious or historical mandala. It arises from our own personal, creative work as Territory Orphans and as such is new and unique. In another sense though it is quite old and universal, made up of and containing indigenous harmonics and interconnections to other, more widely known and practiced ways. Each of us has hidden inside ourselves such a personal mandala, but all mandalas emerge from and refer to the same essential place that gives rise to the form of the world.

As we've been working we've started to remember a universal "mandala language" that seems to be useful. In Garian's Mandala there are circles enclosed by squares which touch the inscribed circles at the midpoints of the sides of the squares. Such a circle often contains a smaller square which touches the circle at its corners. Circles mean "consciousness" in this mandala language. Squares refer to a "place" or "landscape" - "that which takes form". As an example take the following:




If we were to designate the outer square as the Territory Orphanage (the "place" where orphans come together), the inscribed circle as "conscious work", and the inner square as Garian (the mandala deity that takes form in the house of the mandala), this part of the mandala would "read": consciousness inside the Territory Orphanage gives rise to Garian. Or read another way you could say: conscious action in the Territory Orphanage enables one to see and interact with Garian.


If we use this mandala language we will see that Garian's Mandala shows the relationship of everything to everything else. Really! Everything! Actually that's not all that surprising. If there is only just one thing, then of course all the seemingly separate parts of it will be rather completely interconnected. Garian's Mandala also provides a path, a vector, an access, a way to move from one state of consciousness to another. Now this may not suit everyone, but it could. So let's try on the suit and see how it fits, let's take a look at the whole thing (don't worry, you can leave the buttons undone and slip it all off again whenever it suits you).

If we proceed from the outside and work inwards, Garian's Mandala starts with a circle. If a circle means consciousness in the mandala language, from where does this original consciousness arise? There is nothing outside it, it is not generated by any other shape, it's just there. There is much to say (or not say) about this, so let's continue on inwards. A square is inscribed inside this circle. In Garian's Mandala this square designates "the everyday world", the landscape of everyday consciousness. A second circle is inscribed within the everyday-world square, and inscribed within this circle is a second square. This second square designates "the Territory" and the mandala language would lead us to say: consciousness within the everyday-world gives rise to the Territory. Or conscious action in the everyday-world gives access to the Territory. Time to pause and consider some of these terms.

Now "the every-day world" is something we all know (or think we know). It's the place we inhabit, it's the way we have all decided to organize the world we sense, the way we've been taught to perceive the world. In a buddhist sense it is the world of samsara. We see everything as separate things (we even see ourselves as separate things) and we can manipulate and use these separate things in whatever manner we believe is correct. And yet. And yet...I bet you've felt at times (maybe even right now) that there must be something more, that the source of what you seemingly manipulate might be somewhere else, that the everyday-world only gives you access to a very finite understanding. You can be as successful as you want in any number of ways - you can pile up money or status or ideas - but really, what have you done? All this stuff, all this form, it's just a dream-like extension of some other, more empty reality. And no matter how much you've moved this stuff around in the everyday world, you haven't become the least bit intimate with the essential nature of what you imagined you touched.

The Territory is a place where you can perceive the world much more directly. If the everyday world is a place where mostly form is perceived (with little or no emptiness in evidence), the Territory displays form and emptiness as an intimate mixture, allowing you to see the emptiness that informs the form of the everyday world. There is much to say about the Territory so we better not talk about it (at least for now). But the point to stick to here is that the Territory is a place where you can actually begin to see and interact with the empty source. You can see form emerging out of emptiness and emptiness reverting back towards form. It's kind of a mixture of the everyday world and the empty source. And if you are trying to move toward the empty source of things this is a good sign that you're moving in a useful way.

As a sidebar here, it should be mentioned that being in the Territory does not preclude being in the everyday world. The Territory square is inscribed inside the everyday world square and is not separate from it. Actually we have to look at this a least a couple of ways. Looking at it from a more linear way we can say that the area of the Territory square is also part of the area of the everyday world square - at any point of the area of the Territory square, we are also on a point of the area of the everyday world square. So if you change your consciousness (the inscribing circle) you will see the Territory as well as the everyday world. But you don't lose sight of the everyday world, you just add a degree of vision so you can see the Territory as well. It's additive, not subtractive. It's important to realize that the square of the Territory doesn't block out the everyday world square, it doesn't sit on top of the everyday world. The area of the Territory square occupies the same space as the area of the everyday world square, the squares intermingle their areas. It's just that the everyday world square doesn't notice the co-mingling, while the Territory square does.

Looking at this part of the mandala in a linear way, we might be led to say that, although all points in the Territory square are also points in the everyday world square, there are points in the everyday world square that do not lie in the Territory square. If you look at the corner sections of the everyday world square you will see they are seemingly isolated from the Territory. If you were standing in one of the corner sections, there is only one point where you can move into the Territory square (at the corner of the Territory square) - might be quite hard to stumble upon that one point, particularly if you can't see it. Now the wedge-shaped sections that cap the Territory square on all four sides are also outside the Territory square (yet inside the everyday world square). They do however share a rather extensive border with the Territory square (the whole of one side) and if you were standing inside one of these consciousness wedges, you'd have an easier time of crossing into the Territory square, even by accident.

So we could say (from the linear perspective of the everyday world view) that finding your way into the Territory square can be harder or easier depending on your position in the everyday world square. If you're in the corner you can't see the Territory square and there's only one access point to stumble onto by accident. This observational position generates some advice as to useful tactics for the everyday world: stay out of corners! They may seem safe and defendable, but there's no place to go. Similarly so, being in the centre portion of the everyday world square isn't all that much better. Yes, you're already on a point of the everyday world square that is also a point of the Territory square, but you don't know how to see the Territory yet so you can't tell that's so, you don't know how to shift your perception to see where else you already are. And the problem with this position is that you have no available borders to cross going into the Territory. If you do manage to hit the outside borders of the Territory square, you'll be crossing the wrong way, going back out to points of the everyday world which are outside the Territory square. This inside position in the everyday square might correspond to being highly (or at least reasonably) successful in the everyday world, but feeling unfulfilled and unconnected to any meaningful (empty) source. Interestingly enough, we are all urged to move to the centre of the everyday world square where we will be (supposedly) more successful and free. (Hakuin Ekaku Zenji says in his Chant In Praise Of Zazen: How near the truth yet how far we seek, like one in water crying "I thirst", like the son of a rich man wandering poor on this earth we endlessly circle the six worlds.) This observational position generates some advice as well: Stay out of the centre! It may seem like you can attain something there and do whatever you want, but there's nothing to do there except what you've already done - and no place else to go.

If you can find your way into one of the wedge shaped places, you have some hope. The border of the Territory square is very accessible if you are able to shift yourself and see it. Seeing the border is not as difficult as seeing the Territory, the Territory presents itself continually if you approach it from the right place. Notice that the position of the wedges are along the outside portions of the everyday world, but centered there. If you centre yourself there you can't help but find your way into the Territory. This position in the everyday world square is unsettling but productive. If you pause here and shift you will find access inwards to the Territory. The advice that is generated here: move towards the outside edges of the everyday world and centre yourself, allow a bit of emptiness to arise from the form (see the circleness of your position at the same time as the squareness) shift your consciousness and pay attention. When the sight of the Territory wavers in front of you, move to the border and enter - there's somewhere to go.

Now all this is well and good in a linear way, and the linear way is quite important at the outset because it is the subjective perceptive of one who is in the everyday world square. All this linear advice is quite useful if you are trying to move from the everyday world square to the Territory. But once you finally see the Territory and realize that you are already inside it, you'll also notice that the Territory perspective is not so linear at all. Linearly speaking we said that all points in the Territory square correspond to points in the everyday world square, but some points in the everyday world square lie outside the Territory square. Once we take on the Territory perspective, we can also say that topologically speaking, all points in both squares correspond and both squares are completely congruent. There's a level difference perhaps, a consciousness difference say, a question of scale maybe. But once you can see the Territory and shift into it, you will realize that all points in the everyday world have access and are congruent with all points of the Territory. The mandala is drawn in it's geometric way to provide tactics and show access. One square is presented in relation to another square by using the circle as a lense. But still, even so, all squares are squares. Being in the Territory, being in the everyday world: same thing, only completely different.

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