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Pandora’s Box or Hidden Treasure?

Journey Into the Self:

Pandora’s Box or Hidden Treasure?

What lies deep within us? What we fear or what we hope? What is it that we KNOW lies within?

What could be a better journey than the one into ourselves? Which treasure more precious than the one within us? Which inquiry more meaningful than that into Self? No religion exists that has not stressed the importance of knowing oneself.

There are three ways in which we venture through the unknown window into ourselves. The first is through emotion that warns or prepares us through fear or hope, for danger or gain. A second way to know ourselves is through knowledge of ancient scriptures that suggest we have the divine within us; and a third way is through actual “knowing” or an awareness which is the only real knowing, where there is no doubt, no distance from that which is sought.

Only joy.

How does the real knowing come to us?

Let us begin as always by clearing and centering ourselves. If turmoil still exists, it is the turmoil of worldly woe that is affecting us all. Breathe in the light, breathe out all worry. Breathe in the light, breathe out all sadness. Breathe in the light, breathe out all concerns.

“Opening Pandora’s box” is a metaphor for unleashing unforeseen troubles. It is related to the saying: “let sleeping dogs lie.” Something of the sort is happening in Iraq. The known face of discord is replaced by an unknown face. The box that contained the negativities of a nation, and was the familiar face of them, has been removed and the unleashed negativities are flying wild.

Pandora’s box is what many fear may be hidden inside themselves. It is what keeps us from exploring within ourselves, exploring the hidden areas in our relationships, areas 2 and 4 in the Johari window  in our lives.


Who was Pandora? The first woman on Earth, according to Greek myth, Pandora [which means “All-Gifts”] was created by Zeus as a gift for the Titan Epimetheus, who had helped Zeus in the war against the enemy Titans. However, Zeus made sure that Pandora was a mixed blessing: she had many gifts given by the Olympians, that would please her husband; but she also was foolish, mischievous, idle and curious – and these were intended to get back at Epimetheus and his brother Prometheus who had also angered Zeus by giving the gift of fire to humans.

As we have read, Pandora was given a box by Hermes, and asked to keep it safe but never to open it.  She tried, but fought a losing battle with her curiosity, which was also a gift from the Gods!  Finally she succumbed to temptation and opened it one day to take a peek. Out flew all the plagues and sorrows that had been locked in there by the Gods: Old Age, Sickness, Insanity, Pestilence, Vice, Passion, Greed, Crime, Death, Theft, Lies, Jealousy, Famine.  Shocked to see what she had unleashed, she shut the box. For a while she ignored a tiny voice beseeching to be let out of the box. It took courage to open the box once more to the sound of incessant knocking and the beguiling voice promising to help. Luckily, she did open the box once more; and this time, let Hope loose into the world.

Truly a mixed blessing!

Like Pandora, we sometimes open up the negative energies inside us; shocked, we may shut off too soon, and neglect to open the one energy that can set us free: hope.

We let the negative energies loose; or embrace them close, letting the world and even ourselves believe that is what defines us; whereas inside each of us is the treasure: the self. What is the key, the guru, the doorway, the connection to freedom, untold power, strength and joy?

What is it that can point the way to the treasure?

On the journey within, we have to face a Pandora’s box of chaotic emotion. Are we asked, like Pandora, not to venture into that territory? Is it possible to unleash hope without unleashing the Pandora’s box within? Certainly, wars are fought, both within nations and within ourselves, with the conviction that we can reach a goal only through conflict. The Bhagvad Gita tells us to fight our battles unflinchingly.

Why not let sleeping dogs lie? Why indeed, not let the box stay closed? Why be foolishly curious?

Because the box is not impermeable; not tightly shut. What we have inside us, affects our lives even if we are unaware of this. It shows up in our body language, inexplicable rages and depression, illness, trouble.  Facing it, clearing it, is the only way forward; the only way to discover the hidden treasure within.

The decision of the timing is ours to make; but sometimes, if we delay, life makes the decisions for us.

How do we face our Pandora’s Box?  Through introspection, openness to others, allowing others to freely share their feelings about us, seeking feedback from different sources.  Sometimes, this kind of knowledge is gained at the cost of our peace of mind, our feelings about the people who spoke to us: hurt, unhappiness, despair.  The knowledge may not be accurate, or complete. How are we to know if the feedback we are getting is believable or valid? What if the other person has an ax to grind?

Sometimes, a tragedy or even wonderful success: each is a means of opening up our hidden negativities.

The safest way to shine a light on the darkness is through meditation, when the benign energies of our invisible helpers are with us, and everything can be seen clearly, in focus, in the best perspective. Negativities dissolve into positivity, as we better understand what we have within us, its purpose and its changeable nature.

Meditation opens us up to ourselves.

The only way to know is to go into the journey with a light heart, an open mind and a deep faith in the rightness of things. Then does Pandora’s box dissolve into one of untold treasure. That is when the story is complete.



As we prepare to go on a journey, let us find ourselves in a comfortable environment. Seated or lying down, in a safe place, we close our eyes and begin by focusing on the breath. As we breathe in and out, we wait for the breathing to become gentle.


Visualize flowing down a river. The flow of a river is the river itself. We can begin by taking a boat as we course with the current of the river. The current is rapid at first, as we start our journey. There is little time to see the scenery, think, plan- one is caught up in keeping with the river’s course.

As the river flows through a plain, it slows down and widens. There is time to ponder, look around, admire the banks of the river, see the people who are around. There is time to plan, dream, hope. The way ahead seems clear, though there is need of effort to keep the boat carefully on course, and prevent it from joining those who are resting on the river- banks. Do I go with the flow, or swim against the current?


Suddenly the river changes into rapids, going through a narrow gorge. The current is treacherous, visibility low, and mountains frightening. The suddenness of this phase is perplexing, the lack of control discomfiting, the lack of visibility-  scary. As faith is tested, this is the time to take refuge in it, living one moment at a time. Swimming against the current may be more difficult.  When the course ahead is unknown, why not hope that it is safer? Learn to ride the rapids, enjoy the change in pace. It will not last.


With the flow of the river, the boat comes upon a calmness that is lake-like. The river begins to slow down, and there is time once again to look around, sometimes bemused at the turns the flow is taking. One can look back and forward, see what has gone before, often with new vision, and make plans once again for the future. Take a decision to go with the flow, against it or in tandem with it.


Maybe there will be rapids once again, and maybe time for the river to flow into the ocean. Has our journey so far helped us to navigate the currents, prepare for the unexpected, hope for the best?


We give ourselves up to the flow of the river. The current moves on, though we may be still on the boat. We can row the boat to choose our pace, and place in the current; or choose to drift with the flow. The flow of the river is the river itself. The flow that takes us inexorably to the welcoming ocean.


The flow of the river is the flow of  life. I give myself to this flow. I exult in the flow; I believe in it, I love it.


I am one with the flow of the river.


© Meenakshi Suri  April 2003


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