The Spiral Staircase


A great mystic uses the “spiral staircase” as an analogy for life’s cycles: In Yiddish a spiral staircase is called “shvindel trep,” literally: Swindling steps. Why? Because when you climb a regular vertical staircase, you see yourself getting closer to the destination as you climb the stairs. A spiral staircase “swindles” you into thinking that, at times, you have stopped climbing and may even be regressing, because as you get closer to the destination you have to turn completely around, in a 360 degree turn, to the point where you cannot see the apex. As you climb, at each revolution you make, you turn your back to the destination, and just before you reach the top, you must turn completely around for the last time. At that point, with you being unable to see your destination, you may give up and feel that you haven’t made any progress. Even though you are a step away from your goal, you may stop climbing … the key is to always remember, even when your eyes cannot see it and your heart cannot feel it, that you are on a climbing spiral staircase, and you must continue to move. For all you know you may need to just make one more turn to reach your intended objective.

Like a Wheel

The wheel of life turns up and down throughout the experiences of life. Human nature is such that when you are on the top of the wheel, you are in good spirits. But in truth only a fool feels content, for the wheel of life is constantly turning. One who is on the bottom of the wheel and cries about his plight is also a fool, for he too is on the turning wheel. Do not be deceived by the fact that you may not see the wheel turning upward. Because the wheel of life is constantly turning. What today is at the bottom, will tomorrow be at the top. And like a spiral staircase, we turn our backs to the destination just before we reach its peak.

Light and Darkness

Life is not static. As much as we would like to just stop moving, the fact remains that the time and space we occupy is always moving, no less than the spinning earth beneath our feet. Light and dark, day and night, joy and pain, ups and downs, the changing seasons – this is the nature of existence. Life is all about cycles that orbit a broad spectrum spanning from the brightest light to the darkest gloom, and back again. All of existence is pulsating with energy. The secret to success in this world is to make our peace and learn to navigate the cycles in our lives and in the world around us. We must learn to swim and not fight the waves. Anticipate, adjust and align yourself to light and dark, search for them in all your experiences – recognize the waves, and they will become your friends instead of unknown, unexpected forces that can flood and overwhelm our lives.

When the Lows Feel Too Low

This is all good and fine in the normal flow of life. We can understand that we all will go through our ups and downs, and need to adjust to the rhythms. But unfortunately at times the “downs” manifest in such intense ways – whether it be in a collective or personal trauma – that all the explanations are rendered meaningless.

Yet, even in the deepest darkness there is always a spark of intense light (like the enormous light trapped in a black hole). Indeed, we see that some people are able to muster superhuman strength that empowers them to hold on and forge ahead; to even become stronger and greater. What can we learn from them? What do they have that others don’t (but certainly could)? They teach us that each of us has more power and light than we can imagine. Even when faced with great challenges, we really have the ability to dig deeper and find astounding and formidable strengths. Throughout the ages, collectively and individually, we are witness to people who have survived and thrived under the harshest circumstances, due to their profound, inherent power to transform the darkest and lowest of places into unprecedented and extraordinary light.

Exercise: Make an effort today to bring light to a dark situation. Record your progress in your MyMLC journal.

Go deeper into this subject: The Sound of Darkness II | The Difficult Dance | Do Our Shadows Have Substance? | How to Free Yourself from Your Problems | Process Is Crucial to Getting What You Want In Life | The Only Way Out Is Through |


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bj Lange
3 years ago

i belonged to Spiraling Stairway in Maplewood. It was a wonderful metaphysical center that evidently ignorance finally successfully shut down after i moved away. Did you know it?

The Meaningful Life Center