Excerpts from Jean Shinoda Bolen's Keynote
"Peaceful Labyrinth Can Call You to Action"
presented at the Gathering of the International Labyrinth Society
Parksville, Vancouver, Canada

(taken from Brian Wilford's article in the Oceanside Star)

Jean Shinoda Bolen and Holly Carnegie-Letcher

"Walking a labyrinth connects you to other people in a way that can spur you to activism," author and Jungian psychiatrist Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen said Friday in her keynote address to the 15th-annual Gathering of the International Labyrinth Society at Tigh-Na-Mara Resort in Parksville, Vancouver.

Dr. Bolen and others who attended the Society's first gathering in Canada, came from as far away as Japan, Australia and Europe. They all were impressed by the number of labyrinths appearing on Vancouver Island.

"There is a whole series of labyrinths on the Island," Dr. Bolen said, "and each is 'sacred ground' capable of connecting people to others and to a sense of divinity."

"When building a labyrinth, you put your own energy into the earth as you build it," she said, "and then each person puts their own energy into it as they walk it. When walking a labyrinth, there's a sense of breathing one another silently. Whether you are looking inward or looking at each other, you are looking with soft eyes."

"Walking the labyrinth awakens the intuitive self," Bolen said. "If you still yourself and become receptive, one of the things you are doing is walking out of linear time. There's a sense that the journey will take as much time as it takes, like that feeling you have when you're with someone you love. It nourishes you. "It connects you to the large-S Self."

"If we accept that each of us has a soul and a purpose, then we are beings on a spiritual path. Walking a labyrinth connects you with that underlying divinity that is all around. On your own journey and open to action from the heart, you are taking one more step in the direction of compassionate action. The labyrinth is a model of the action you might be called to do."

"It's easy to go through life on the surface but it's not easy at all to have a life that has meaning," Bolen said. "When you take that "one more step in the direction of compassionate action and answer the call to activism your life gets much more interesting... You run into synchronicities. The universe starts speaking to you. You find others going in the same direction and it's fun," she said. "You are sharing this journey and it's meaningful. You feel like you have a place in the universe... like you have some grace."

At this point in history, Dr. Bolen continued, "humanity is at a teeter-totter moment where a few more could set the world in the right direction. There aren't enough trees and there are too many people but women are finally equal to men and, after centuries of dominance by linear masculinity over circular femininity, it's now possible to bring the feminine into balance with the masculine."

To help achieve that balance, Bolen is encouraging the United Nations to sponsor a Fifth World Conference on Women (there's an online petition at www.jeanbolen.com) to "mobilize the world's women," she said. "With enough women, it will happen."

Borrowing from poet Mary Oliver, she asked the Gathering: "What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life, and will it be meaningful? If you spend your life engaging with other people, then nothing will go to waste. It's amazing what people can do for each other if they listen with compassion."

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