I finished the previous post in the series by answering how Alaska escaped the labyrinth of suffering. In this post I will explore how Miles chooses a better way out of the Labyrinth.
Miles: How He Experiences and Escapes the Labyrinth of Suffering:
At some point in life “Everyone…gets dragged out to sea by the undertow…we are all going.” In other words, at some point in time we know we are going to die/suffer or someone we love and care for is going to die, how do we deal with this knowledge? Right now Miles’ answer is to believe in an afterlife, however Miles becomes enlightened and he changes his outlook on surviving the Labyrinth.
Something similar to a parable/riddle is then introduced in the novel after Miles makes his inital decision about surviving the Labyrinth. The parable is:
Banzan “Was walking through the market one day when he overheard someone ask a butcher for his best piece of meat. The butcher answered, “Everything in my shop is the best. You cannot find a piece of meat that is not the best.” Upon hearing this, Banzan realized that there is no best and no worst, that those judgments have no real meaning because there is only what is, and poof he reached enlightenment.” How does this relate to the central question of surviving the labyrinth of suffering?
Well Alaska spent her life after her mom’s death thinking about the best and worst times in her life constantly. This parable is directly related to when Alaska suggested that they play the “Best Day/Worst Day” game when out camping with her friends. There she shares the worst day of her life that has overshadowed everything she did thereafter.
The world religions teacher then introduces a zen belief that “Everything that comes together falls apart.” In other words death will happen…”we are all going”…it is inevitable…therefore suffering will only cease when we stopped wishing things would not fall apart. Alaska could not do this and so she did not survive. She could not survive.
The problem is not life but how much emphasis we put on disappointment, pain, and laying blame while trying to hold ourselves together; creating a sense of hopelessness.
Miles then becomes truly enlightened when he realizes that the only way to survive the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive. When Alaska’s mother died she blamed and could not forgive herself for something that was out of her control and this is what caused her to self-destruct. Similarly, Miles blamed himself for the death of Alaska as he felt he should have stopped her from getting in her car drunk…if only he had stopped her! This thought haunted him but then he realized:
“She forgave us, and that we had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth. There were so many of us who would have to live with things done and things left undone that day. Things that did not go right, things that seemed okay at the time because we could not see the future. If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can’t know better until knowing better is useless.”
So I ask again: What is the best way to go about being a person? What are the rules of this game, and how might we best play it? How do we survive as oppsed to escape the labyrinth of suffering? According to Miles it is to forgive. Stop beating yourself up for elements of your life that are outside of your control such as death. Forgive yourself and others for the unfortunate things that happen in life and accept what is.
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment!
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