A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Friday, 24 October 2014


I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing . . . which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time . . . Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is: the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious. CARL JUNG Memories, Dreams, Reflections

I sketched this simple mandala for myself some time ago; it helped me create order and clarify direction in a life which seemed, at the time, chaotic and anarchic. The circle signifies the unity of the universe (macrocosm) and the unity of the self (microcosm); all eight segments are individual, yet closely related — equally important parts of the whole. This is my life as creative self-expression; all aspects are essential to me, though some aspects may exert greater influence than others at different periods. Facets such as sexual, emotional, family and social relationships are not represented by this particular mandala, but that is not to say these things are not important — they inevitably impinge on and colour all the wedges, since everything is connected.

Further light on the meaning of each segment:

1. Private: This is the core of the self, the mysterious and unknown self, the self which has an inner, secret life, an almost primitive and animal-like self, the part of the self which is only partly acknowledged by oneself and hardly ever by others. However, it is a defining part, and necessary for mental, physical and spiritual survival. It's associated with instinct, emotion, creativity, irrationality, spontaneity and the unconscious, and can be dangerous — though it's even more dangerous if unrecognised or ignored. It's that part of the self which Freud and Jung and countless novelists have exposed in their work. 

2. Reading: One can only ever read a tiny proportion of all the books one wants to read. You have to evaluate, discriminate, be guided by chance, fate and circumstance. My current reading is focused on history, geography, travel, literature, the arts, biography, natural history, popular science, folklore, myth, religion, spirituality, philosophy, cookery, gardening and health.

3. Writing: Poetry, Blogging, Other.

4. Arts: Music, plastic and visual arts, photography, literature.

5. Walking: Long and short distances, different modes of travel, Europe, landscape, geology.

6. Cookery: Recipes, cookery books, world cuisine.  

7. Gardening: Plants, flowers, trees, fruit, vegetables, gardening books, design, wildlife.

8. Health: Stretching, resistance and cardiovascular exercises, walking, running, yoga, meditation.

Let me hasten to say that this is an 'ideal' framework, a mental paradigm which is never completely realisable; nevertheless, it's good to have goals and guidelines. It makes me feel better to lay things out like this, to prioritise what's really important in my life, and helps me realign myself at those times when I'm suddenly conscious I'm frittering away the hours.


George said...

Very interesting, Robert. Rather surprised, however, that marmite didn't receive a separate wedge.

The Solitary Walker said...

George :)

am said...

Thank you for this life-as-creative-expression mandala.

Especially appreciate your description of the segment called "Private" and the thought that relationships "inevitably impinge on and colour all the wedges, since everything is connected."

I am going to save this mandala as a reminder, because these are the important elements in my creative life, too.

Rubye Jack said...

That's funny George. I think this is great Robert. Makes me want to do my own mandala. It's also easier to see the whole this way. Beats Maslow's triangle. :)

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Am. That private area of ourselves is so important, I feel. I haven't really explained it very well in my summary, but all of us have a 'secret self' — it's just that some of us don't recognise it, and are either afraid of it and/or or try to escape it. I think it's the creative, deep, instinctive, emotional, unconscious part of ourselves — the part Jung and Freud and countless novelists have exposed. It can also be a dangerous part.

I think I'll edit the post and improve my definition now.

The Solitary Walker said...

Hi Rubye, and it's good to hear from you again. I'm aware of Maslow's Triangle of Needs, which I first came across through reading Colin Wilson. It's very useful, I think.

However, my own figure is more to do with personal self-description than general self-actualisation, and is a mandala-like 'whole' rather than a triangular 'hierarchy'.

Ruth said...

Like you, I like visualizing the "essentials" and so I might try this too.

I'm glad someone invented the circle, it keeps things whole and connected. It can also be dangerous when it tries to keep things out. :) I don't mean that you are doing that. I'm thinking of my own past.

George! :D

The Solitary Walker said...

I like the circle, and all it represents universally. In Christianity I have always preferred the Celtic cross, which incorporates a circle.

Anonymous said...

I am just frowning at it, not getting much past the literal uhmm what, do you just axe off anything that overlaps? question sounding in my head

Do you mean to say that you take what you are thinking and squiggle in some of the color to fill up your wedge for the day, to see what is left to do? No, maybe not, praps I need more tea?

The Solitary Walker said...

It's meant to be diagrammatically oversimplified, Elisa, — and not to be taken too literally or too seriously. No adjustment, no ratios, no fixed agenda. Just a satisfying neat guideline to prompt me back into creativity and usefulness when I'm watching too much TV or learning next to nothing on the computer!