In darkness we are revealed

 

In darkness we are revealed.

– The Doctor in Extremis, Dr. Who, aired May 2017

This can mean a few different things, and we all find our own meaning. The meaning that means something to us.

Character testing. It can be understood in an ordinary sense. In dark times, we are tested. Our character is revealed. And, as they say, it builds character. For me, this is an invitation for authenticity. For not beating around the bush. For not being dishonest with myself (and also others).

Dark night. I also have to see it in the context of the dark night of the soul. First, there is often a period of illumination, an initial awakening. All is revealed as Spirit and we live within that, buoyed by the initial excitement and revelation. This may last for a short or long time.

Then, there may be a dark night of the soul. What we earlier relied on – the light, guidance, enthusiasm, clarity, esteem, health, intellectual capacity, health, friends, family, money – may be taken away from us. This reveals the darkness in us.

It reveals the “dark” areas of ourselves, the unhealed, unloved, unquestioned. And it comes with an invitation for us to see and feel it, meet it with love (and see it’s already loved), question the beliefs and identities wrapped up in it, and find healing for it.

In this “darkness”, we are also invited to live more deeply the realization that all is Spirit, including that in us, others, and life that our personality and human self don’t like or want. We may have earlier seen that all is Spirit, here it’s put to the test.

In the absence of the obvious light, we are also invited to recognize more deeply that all is emptiness. All is void. Any content of experience happens within and as void.

Dr. Who. In the context of Dr. Who, and knowing that Steven Moffat is the current writer, I assume it means none of these things but something more surprising and appropriate to that universe.

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Cultivating the light vs meeting the dark

 

Some people talk about cultivating the light, or meeting the dark.

For me, the two go hand in hand. As so often, it depends on what we mean, and how we do it.

For me, cultivating the light means to cultivate what I wish more of. And meeting the dark means loving the unloved and examining the unexamined. It means healing the unhealed, and examining painful identifications and beliefs.

Already here, we see how they two go hand in hand. I wish to cultivate and become more familiar with loving what’s here, including what’s been previously unloved in me and my experience. I also wish to cultivate exploration of what’s here, and seeing more clearly what’s here, including how identifications and stressful beliefs are created.

This cultivation supports the meeting of the dark. And in meeting the dark, I am supported in continuing with the cultivation. (It inspires me to do so, I see it’s needed, and I get to test and fine tune my approach.)

How do I cultivate the light? Here are some practices I am familiar with:

Kindness practices, including loving kindness, ho’oponopono, tonglen, and also the Heart Prayer and the Christ meditation. Kindness towards me, parts of my experience, others, life.

Training a more stable attention also fits here, since it’s what I wish for and it supports any other activity and practice.

Natural rest. Noticing and allowing what’s here. Noticing it’s already allowed.

Prayer. Prayer for guidance. To be shown the way. For Your will be done.

Body centered practices, such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Breema.

Spending time in nature. Spending time in service to life.

Setting the intention to live from love, examine what’s here, rest with what’s here, live in service of life (including my life).

 And how do I meet the dark?

By finding love for the previously unloved. Finding kindness towards parts of me and my experience I have habitually ignored, rejected, or battled and seen as undesirable.

By notice and allow what’s here. Including the discomfort, anger, sadness, fear, grief, and whatever else is here in the moment.

By questioning the unquestioned. Examining beliefs and identifications. Finding what’s more true for me than the initial beliefs. Investigating how my most basic perceptions of deficient and inflated selves, threats, and compulsions are created.

By resting with what’s here. Notice. Allow. Rest with in kind presence.

It can be quite simple and straight forward.

When I use the words light and dark here, it’s mostly to connect with how some use these words. I usually don’t use the words light and dark since they are quite imprecise, there are assumptions about the world behind them that I don’t quite agree with, and I don’t even know how I would use the words so they make good sense. That’s why the use of them in this post feels a bit awkward to me.

Why is love, kindness, examination etc. light? I don’t really know, perhaps just because it’s what our personalities tends to like and prefer. We tend to like sunshine and daylight, and also certain qualities in ourselves and certain experiences, so we use the word light for both.

Why are identifications and beliefs dark? They are what creates what some see as darkness, including hate, fear, grief, compulsions, trauma, violence and more. I suppose some call them dark since they are often seen as undesirable, and they are often what we try to hide from ourselves and others, and keep “in the dark”.

Behind the surface expression of these “dark” qualities and experiences is a desire to protect the self, and deep caring and even love. A worried and confused love. That’s one reason I often avoid the word dark about these things. It only addresses and highlights one level of understanding. There is something different behind it.

These words and ideas themselves can be taken to inquiry. Any ideas of light or dark, or cultivation or meeting, or love or inquiry, or anything else that comes up, can be taken to inquiry.

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Darkness

 

The word darkness can refer to a few different things.

(a) Something that’s hidden, unknown to us.

In a conventional sense, we know that we – as individuals and civilization – know only a small fraction of what there is to know, in any area of life. In a deeper sense, we cannot know anything for certain.

(b) Something that’s seen as undesirable, bad, or evil.

What I see out there is a reflection of what’s here. Any story I have about life, people or anything “out there” also applies to me, and I can find specific examples of how that’s true.

Also, any ideas of undesirable, bad, or evil are ideas. They can be taken as real and reflecting something inherent in reality or life, and this creates stress. They can also be recognized as ideas, as an overlay of words and images.

(c) Darkness as part of a dark-light polarity that’s seen as neutral, necessary, or enriching.

This is an extension of (b). Darkness refers to what some label undesirable, bad or evil, yet it’s seen as contributing to the richness of life. At an individual level, if embraced with some wisdom and love, it’s what makes life whole, full and rich. If it’s rejected, we are at odds with life and ourselves.

(d) Part of the divine play.

What appears as light or dark, through our overlay of ideas, is all the play of life and the divine.

I see all of these in my experience of the dark night of the soul. (a) It’s dark because there is a hidden or unknown process at work. Which there always is, it’s just life. (b) I sometimes see it as undesirable and bad. (Loss, health problems etc.). (c) I recognize these experiences as part of the universal human experiences. They are part of the richness of life. (d1) I see that my ideas about the dark night, and the label itself, are all an overlay of ideas. They are not inherent in reality or life itself. (d2) And it’s all the play of the divine.

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Darkness

 

 Dark is defined as:

– with little or no light
– hidden from knowledge, mysterious
– ignorant, unenlightened
– of a period of time or situation characterized by tragedy, unhappiness, or unpleasantness

Also, a dark night of the soul may be called a dark night because:

– situations happen that goes against our shoulds, wished, identities and identifications
– wounds, trauma or other unpleasant experiences surface
– there is a darkening of our faculties – the will, intellect, morals etc.
– what’s really happening, what it does with us, is obscure and hidden

In darkness, and especially a dark night of the soul, there is an invitation to recognize the apparent darkness as also the divine.

Any content of consciousness is consciousness itself. It’s all awakeness. It’s all already Spirit, the divine. Any ideas of light or dark are words and images, a temporary overlay which may be held as real and true, or recognized as words and images.

Any reaction in us, including the apparently “dark” ones, is from love and is love. Fear, anger, sadness, grief, wounds, trauma is all from love and is love. It’s all confused love. (In recognizing this, there is a healing of our relationship with it, it’s allowed to be as it is, and – even if this is secondary – it may even heal in a conventional sense.)

Any situation that goes against our shoulds, hopes or identities brings us face-to-face with what’s left in us, our remaining identifications. It’s an invitation to examine these. To give it all over to the divine. To live from authenticity. To find love for what’s here. To recognize it as love, awakeness, and Spirit. There is also an invitation here to deepen as a human being, in humility, receptivity and gratitude. There is an invitation to see, love and feel the universality of this. And there is an invitation for each of the three centers to open and deepen further, seeing all as the divine (head), loving all as the divine and love (heart), feeling all as the divine (belly).

There is also an invitation here for rest, as in a physical night. To rest with and as what is. To find patience. To find a deeper trust in life and the divine.

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Forms of darkness

 

What do I associate with darkness?

When I look at what I have learned from culture, I find that darkness often means something difficult and undesirable. I can go through dark periods in life. There may be something dark in me and others. A person may be dark and gloomy, or even scary. World War II was a dark chapter in European history. Hitler was a dark figure. And so on.

Here are three ways to understand the metaphorical darkness, from a view of light and dark as opposites, to darkness as stepping stone to the light, to appreciation of light and dark as they are.

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Forms of darkness

 

How do I perceive darkness?

How do I experience literal darkness? Does fear come up? Do I welcome it? Does it feel safe and nurturing? Can I find more comfort with it?

How do I use darkness metaphorically?

Do I use it to describe something that is undesirable? A dark period in life I would rather have been without. The light good guys vs the bad dark guys. The whiteness of heaven and angels vs the blackness of hell and the devil?

Do I use it to describe something that appears undesirable but has something of value hidden within it? I may go through a difficult period and come out of it with more clarity, humility, strenght and compassion. I may own my shadow and find the gold within it. I may go through a dark night of the senses, soften identification as a me, and find all revealed as God. I may go through a dark night of the soul, stripping away the remaining identifications – and in particular the identification as an I.

Do I use it to describe something of great beauty and value in itself? I may get to a point where I recognize difficult situations in life, the shadow, and the dark nights as of immense beauty and value in themselves. I may recognize that dark and light – in any sense of those words – are equal expressions of life and the divine. I may recognize that the velvety luminous blackness (belly soul center) is as essential to life and the divine as the brilliant golden luminosity (head soul center).

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