Inspirational Articles

Is Life a Mystery School?

Is Life a Mystery School?

By Kathy Ryndak and Gord Riddell

"Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived," is one of our favourite quotes from Hugh Prather. It teaches us about surrender, letting go and entering into the mystery of life with faith and trust. Trying to figure it all out and "paralysis by analysis" can block the mysteries of life and soul lessons that are meant to unfold for us.

Mystery School Defined

Lately, the study of the ancient mystery schools has emerged amongst prominent spiritual leaders such as Caroline Myss and Jacqueline Small. A Mystery School is really a University of the Soul for the study of the inner, divine nature of humankind. "Mystery" can be defined as the understanding of esoteric and metaphysical principles, universal law and eternal truths known as Ageless Wisdom. The Greek origin of the word "mystery" refers to knowledge that was a secret.

The advent of mystery schools occurred before recorded history. They were sacred, secret, hidden schools which classified their teachings as exoteric (outward) i.e.) medicine and math or esoteric (hidden) such as developing spiritual gifts of clairvoyance, mediumship or telepathy. Esoteric wisdom needed to be kept secret, except for a chosen few, out of fear of abusing psychic energies. The legend of Atlantis, through the writings of Plato, ultimately addresses the destruction of this civilization due to spiritual corruption.

Mystery Schools existed everywhere in every epoch from the myths of Lemuria and Atlantis to Egypt, Greece, the Australian aborigines, the Celtic Mysteries and Pythagorean Mysteries. We can find their evidence in ancient caves such as the ones at Lascaux.

Contemporary Perspective

In the study of ancient mystery schools, we want to reclaim their spiritual wisdom, esoteric knowledge, traditions and rituals and bring this forth into the 21st Century imbuing them with the spiritual evolution and realities of our times. It is not simply just about going backwards to learn about ancient wisdom. It is about moving forward in spiritual evolution.

The contemporary study of Mystery Schools interweaves sacred psychology and spirituality with history, anthropology, theology, mythology, archetypes, sacred architecture and earth energies, metaphysics and importantly the Sacred Arts.

Sacred Art can be defined as any artistic creation inspired by making a spiritual connection to the Divine which catalyzes a transformative or alchemical response in the one observing, participating in or creating the experience. Sacred Art embraces music, sound, dance, visual art, poetry, prose, theatre, drama, ceremony and ritual. Since it is based on a spiritual connection, even those without artistic experience can do it.

Jean Houston describes the experience of immersing one self into the study of Mystery Schools as being "intellectually vigorous, psychologically challenging, spiritually demanding, celebrational, emotional and frequently hilarious, satiric, creative, expansive, fun and pleasurable."

Mystery School Archetype Caroline Myss says the modern mystic has been downloaded with the Mystery School Archetype in that the external world serves as our ashram, monastery or retreat. "Our lives have been suspended between ordinary, everyday living and the monastic world." In the workshops she conducts on archetypes she cannot think of one person who has not chosen a least one archetype from the mystical grouping such as shaman, magician, alchemist, seeker, hermit, priestess, etc.

Myss states, "we cannot pursue a deep and spiritual life and not engage the process of initiation." Our inner life becomes very stirred, charged and animated and we think this may be a result of life stress. It is because "we have been downloaded with a more intense calling" and the archetype of initiation.

Initiation Students of the ancient mystery schools went through arduous initiations. In Egypt, initiates had to lie in darkness in the sarcophagus of the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid for 3 days facing their own demons. Other traditions would put students in mazes in dark caves with the mission of finding their way out through trusting intuition.

Initiation in our time no longer needs to physical like this. It is now about the lessons our soul gives us, our higher purpose and our spiritual growth. The predominate energies for this are alchemy and transformation. Our relationships, soul contracts and archetypes within our psyche serve as catalysts.

We must be willing to embrace the mysteries of life and trust that all things happen for a reason whether they are "good" or "bad". There are no accidents and synchronicity becomes our guide.

We understand that we are the hero of our own personal mystery and mythology. We realize that our greatest trials, conflicts and even "enemies" are our initiators. Through various initiations, we ultimately become a co-creator with the divine.

Many initiations also happen on the inner planes when we are sleeping and in dreamtime. Sleep allows us to recharge our souls by plugging into the divine current. We also go to spiritual school at night through this connection.

Ancient Schools

We can learn a lot by studying the traditions of the ancient mystery schools, however, it is always important to integrate this knowledge into our everyday lives.

The mythological legend of Lemuria teaches us about unity consciousness, our multi-dimensionality and living in harmony, beauty and peace. The legend of Atlantis teaches us about the vibrational arts - how to integrate sound, colour, light and crystals into other holistic modalities. Interestingly, archeologists are very near to proving that Atlantis actually did exist.

Egypt helps us to learn about initiation, transformation and the High Priestess archetype. The Essenes teach us about the true meaning of prayer. The Greek schools inform us about sacred geometry, philosophy and how gods and goddess are really just archetypes in our lives.

The Celtic/Druid tradition puts us in touch with earth based spirituality, paganism and seasonal ritual. The legend of King Arthur can teach us about the wizard archetype and terrestrial and celestial magic. The study of the Hopi, Navaho and Quechua of Peru not only immerses us in shamanism but also in our celestial connections.

Mystery Schools can also give us a greater understanding of the formation of the five great religions of the world. When we draw the parallel that our lives are really a mystery school, we learn everything that happens to us is by divine design, free will, choice and co-creation. While we come to understand the spiritual mysteries, paradoxically we also grasp that life is about many unknowns to be experienced. The adage "life is not a dress rehearsal" comes alive when we embrace the concept that "life is really a mystery to be lived."