The ancient Greeks tell of a Sphynx, a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion, greeting travelers to Thebes with the now-famous riddle. “Which creature in the morning goes on four legs, at mid-day on two, and in the evening upon three, and the more legs it has, the weaker it be?” Failure to answer correctly to the Sphynx resulted in being strangled, and then eaten. Not good. It took Oedipus to the give the right answer: Man— he who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two feet as an adult, and then walks with a cane in old age.
The Sphynx on the Egyptian Giza Plateau stands as an ancient reminder of our lost past: the civilization that existed before current records. Older than the Great Pyramid (you can see water erosion at the base of the Sphynx, indicating that rainfall was plentiful during the monument’s past) some authors such as Graham Hancock (see “Fingerprints of the Gods”, pub.1996) have suggested that it was erected to mark the Age of Leo, or built around 10,500 BC. For more evidence of our ancient past see Carmen Boulter’s “The Pyramid Code”.
The Sphynx has lost his beard, his nose, his paint, and his uraeus (the cobra head emanating from his brow). But he has not lost his esoteric power. The Sphynx points the way back towards past civilizations when spiritual evolution – not material consumption – was a primary force in our lives. The Sphynx reminds us that we are more than humans who simply age over time, becoming weaker with each passing decade. We have growth potential.
I have my own personal answer to the riddle of the Sphynx. My answer would be: human spiritual evolution. As babies we crawl on four limbs, symbolic of our animal past (the lion body). As young adults we face the world standing on our own two feet, desiring to look into the future (head of the man). And, as we age, we grow slowly into our true potential, and develop a “third” eye: the uraeus. As we mature we come to learn to learn how to travel with three “legs” (animal, human, spiritual) … to evolve from the foundations of our animal nature through personal development, and to see beyond the physical world into spirit.
I suspect the Sphynx would smile at my answer, but with my luck he’d probably eat me anyway. No one likes a smart alec.
All photos courtesy of Yui Wang, from her 2010 Ancient Egyptian Sites pilgrimage.
© 2013 by Dean Ramsden. All rights reserved.