Every journey into darkness frees us from our self made limitations

My name is John and I have been in the dark.

By dark, I do mean absence of light and perhaps visibility. I do not mean evil, bad, or negative. Those terms are sometimes used to describe the dark, but that has nothing to do with actual darkness. They are only the meanings we make of our experience in the dark.

Darkness is constant and always there. It is infinite in itself. Darkness needs no continual energy for maintenance as it is THE default. It is the void through which everything sits, it is the source and it can give us, effortlessly, everything it has.

In contrast, light is not stable in and of itself. Light is constantly in need of something, such as a candle wick, electricity, or fire. It is dependent on something finite in order for it to be used and, as a result, is used up.

When we begin this existence, we came from dark. We knew nothing, we could do nothing. At some point in time, we see the light and begin collecting information, strategies, learnings, distractions, and attachments. But none of these things were there in the beginning of us.

Before light, we began as peaceful and content little beings.

At some point, though, we change like a tadpole into a frog, and we convert from being very comfortable in darkness to being more comfortable in the light. Over time, we begin to prefer the light so much that we end up fearing the dark. Bathing in so much light, we enjoy all the seeing and knowing and we distance ourselves from where we came. We then become trapped in our new world.

Going back into the dark is a frightening prospect. In order to go back into the dark, we have to give up what we have been able to create with light and go back into the unknown. And within the unknown, we can’t see. We are not used to being in the dark but when navigating in the light is no longer of use, we are like babies again and we go back to a beginner mind in order to navigate through the darkness. And we lose what we know of ourselves.

Once there, the darkness takes everything from you, everything the light gave you and all the things you used to comfort yourself with are taken from you. Your ego and sense of self dies and you are left with nothing but a shell of who you used to be.

It is unnerving, because there is nothing in the dark to grasp on to. The dark removes any comfortable description of faith we can see and ascribe niceties. It transforms faith into an incomprehensible idea that will eventually save us from our light constructs.

In the darkness we are a neutral force, or even slightly positive, and in the space of nothing, we gain everything. The light works differently, it splits us into two and creates the seeds of judgement from where we can be labeled as either good or bad.

Now you can see how the darkness connects us back to ourselves, back to contentment, and back to acceptance. It is not an easy journey back to dark, but a worthy endeavor nevertheless.

Further reading:

  1. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
  2. Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross
  3. Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown
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