Going Into The Dark

Darkness is defined as the absence of light, something that is difficult to understand, a state of ignorance, and something secret or sinister.  Truth is defined, by the dictionary, as factual, or clear and visible, as well as something individuals choose to believe. Faith communities often speak of the dark as something evil and light as the most desirable quality to cultivate and yet it’s only through a willingness to explore what is dark or hidden within ourselves that we are able to shine a light of truth on the state of our consciousness and attain some form of enlightenment

ignorance_quoteIt appears that no one ever believes they are choosing something out of ignorance or a misinterpretation of reality.  We don’t have to look far to discover humanities willingness to pronounce as undesirable, ignorant, and evil people who are perceived as a hindrance to comfort, security, and prosperity.   Currently, immigrants are being targeted as are Muslims, single mothers, and the poor or elderly.  When one is truly spiritual it is easy to see through all the rhetoric and ask, who will profit from this persecution?  Of course, darkness is always obvious when it belongs to someone else. Darkness is defined as the absence of light, something that is difficult to understand, a state of ignorance, and something secret or sinister.  Truth is defined, by the dictionary, as factual, or clear and visible, as well as something individuals choose to believe. Faith communities often speak of the dark as something evil and light as the most desirable quality to cultivate and yet it’s only through a willingness to explore what is dark or hidden within ourselves that we are able to shine a light of truth on the state of our consciousness and attain some form of enlightenment.

Spirit invites us to discover our ancient darkness or  ignorance that has continuously caused suffering for ourselves and those around us.  This exploration is impossible without a spiritual director or teacher.  If it were possible to enlighten our own ignorance we would all be ascended by now.  However, the gift of shining  light on delusions is about as popular as turning sticks into snakes.  Inevitably, the student thus enlightened becomes enraged and defensive often turning on the teacher with accusations and resentment.  My advice is- don’t ask if you don’t really want to know.

GalaticAlignEyeThere is a line in the vow of the bodhisattvas that states- delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them.  Delusions are caused by expectations of self and others.  I’m not suggesting that we have no expectations of self or other, only that we become aware they are a major tripping point on the road of spirit.  If someone says, I am enlightened- we can be sure that person is delusional.  Even the Buddha did not say he was enlightened he said he was awake, which meant he was practicing awareness of his attachments and expectations in order to free himself from them.  Only through constant vigilance can we disrupt our focus on what we expect, deserve, and demand from self and others.  Note the attitude and ask- is it fair of me to have this expectation of another?  And- how can I meet my own need without imposing it on others?

Not all expectations are bad or even undesirable.  This is why we learn table manners as a child, discover the magic of please and thank you, train our pets to deposit their bowel movements in an appropriate place, and end abusive relationships.  Here are some expectations that are guaranteed to cause suffering – wanting others to give us comfort, acceptance, and anything we else we want without our having to say anything.  And, if we do state our need there is an expectation that it is the other person’s responsibility to give it to us.  All of this is delusional thinking a result of ignorance and living in the dark.

Having a session with a spiritual director or teacher can be a challenging opportunity.  While part of us wants to be free from delusion, there is often a greater part that prefers to remain ignorant or to be reassured that we really don’t have much to work on so we don’t need to worry about it.  Amma Ilowan told us once that the mantra for the path of enlightenment is- Oh, Shit! Here is a poem/story gifted to Amma some years ago by a seeker.

A Day in the Dark

On a day such as this my life might be destroyed.
I am not worthy of being in the presence of a Master!
Bitterness courses through my every thought and burns my mind.
Time is passing-
But when will it open?
I am frightened!
I am petrified!
I am anxious- and I do fear what seed I have sown and their harvests to come!
This does not sound like discovery to me- but desolation!
Perhaps it is transformation?
Perhaps it is my evolution?
But to be immersed in such darkness and despair seems cruel and heartless.
True love is creation-
I have said so many discouraging times of late!
Thought creates- and I have thought so many unloving things of late!
Where has the holiness- that I so fervently aspire for gone?
Why do I find myself falling away from the ladder of prayer?
Where has my soul been slipping to?
Why does my love and light flicker- and in the most important of times?
Why does Spirit seem to fade away when I am most in need?
Why am I so afraid?
Why have I chosen to act in anger instead of from my sadness or my love?
The Sword of my Soul has almost become fully tempered
and shall soon undergo the refreshing submersion into the waters of Spirit-
Yet the fires still flame with such climactic degrees-
It seems impossible to focus on the process in its complete stage!
Is this not the dross that initiation burns from my soul?
Will I ever feel I’ve arrived at the warmth of spring again?

My own ancient darkness is fear.  Fear of being abandoned , fear of becoming homeless, fear of failing, fear of disapproval, and fear of trusting others too much and various terrors that come up at odd times.  And, while I’ve experienced some of these energies in my life…most are pure imaginings like a child panicking over shadows in the night.  I believe my ancient darkness arises from the expectation that these things could happen and I must do everything in my power to prevent them from manifesting.  If I have a plan for the worst case scenario I will be able to survive it.  That was my motto for years.

So, I have been advised to simply notice the fear, breathe, and stop making strategies to deal with imaginings.  Once, he told me that my people didn’t know that I loved them, which was devastating to hear since I thought I was serving to the very best of my ability.  After being angry for a few days, thinking people were complaining about me to the Masters, I decided to accept what he said and change my behavior so people would understand that I loved and cared about them.  First, I had to notice what behaviors gave a wrong impression so I watched sangha members who were considered loving and kind individuals.  What did they do?  What body language did they use?  What did they say?  Mostly, it turned out to be a matter of eye contact, fully facing the person I was talking to, and not multi-tasking while speaking to them.  Getting out of the dark into the light required acceptance and accountability and a willingness to be enlightened rather than defensive and resentful that everyone didn’t already think I was an amazing being.

to-make-the-darkness-consciousWilling to go into the dark is entering a time when we don’t know the result and sometimes when the result is known it is nothing we want or desire to experience- and yet, there it is.  To find the light of truth we must be willing to realize, even if it is on faith, that Divine Spirit is with us, as us, and will not abandon us in our grief, pain, or fear.  This doesn’t mean we will have that fear removed, the grief taken away, or the pain eased, it only means we trust we are not alone in those times.  We rely on the relationship we have created with the Dharma, the Sangha, and the Masters to find our courage, strength, and the fortitude to make it through the dark.  In challenging times we have the capability of ignoring or chasing Divine Spirit from our hearts, minds, and lives.  If we do this we sink even deeper into the dark night of our soul.  Ultimately, we cannot find the light without each other and though we may stumble and fall- surrendering to Divine Grace will see us through into the light of wisdom and love.

 

Patience

Patience is a spiritual discipline.  It is the ability to move forward wen when we appear to be going backward.  Patience is trusting in Great Spirit even when things change. secret_of_shamballa_by_myxxo-d4jh6pa It is releasing the way things have always been or the expectation of what should have been.  Patience is kindness to yourself and others when mistakes are made.  Patience is what Great Mother and Great Father give to all of their children.

Everyday we look for, and expect, to receive gifts from Great Spirit.  Waiting in patience means honoring the truth that we are the Beloved Children of the Great Mother and Father…and they will give to us everything we need…even if they don’t give us everything we demand or want.

We often hear that anything we can imagine we can create.  Of course, we also know that it is important to have a plan.  What are those plans being based in?  strategic-plan-cycleAre we spending our energy in avoidance of pain, fear, or disapproval?  Are we trying to get everything everyone else appears to have?  Maybe it’s time to spend time planing how to create more joy, love, peace, and compassion in the world around us.

What does Great Spirit want for my life?  What saint or great being do I wish to emulate?  How can I be strong in love and forgiveness?
How can I make choices that lead to a joyful life of service and loving kindness to others?

In order to work successfully with the Great Spirit of All Life we must practice the art of detachment.  The more attached we are to the manifestation of something we want…the harder it is to allow it to happen.  Detachment is the non-emotional and compassionate ability to see through our little self desires to something worthy of a Beloved Child of Life.
So if we pray, affirm, and know love is ours …there is nothing else we need to do.  There is no need to get so excited about seeing if it has happened yet…and how it has happened.  That puts us in a state of “doubt”…”Are we there yet?”   Instead we practice saying, “Great Mother and Father help me to plant my seeds and learn to wait patiently, with detachment, until they grow to harvest time.

Manual_harvest_in_TirumayamGreat Mother,
Help me to be understanding with all the people in my life.
Teach me to listen instead of trying to be heard.
Show me how to merge myself into the wholeness of life
So I do not become puffed up and think of myself as unduly important.
Great Lady, grant me your loving patience that I may understand others
even as I desire to be understood.

5a16a8079db75c6ad66e10aec8ee4b27

Great Father,
I bow to your wisdom.
Help me for I am prone to trust myself instead of You.
Many times I have tried to leave behind old habits.
Many times I have failed.
Let me take your hand, Great Father
for with you there can be no failure.
Together with you miracles shall unfold.
Together with you I shall learn to be patient
with myself and others when mistakes are made.

7216b71e-0d21-4ed1-8fac-8ff60a5e08c6

Great Weaver,
I recognize and accept the good, the beautiful
and the loving gift of life within me.
Help me so that
When my inner self is hungry I can feed it with love-
When my inner self is angry I can find a way
to return to peace and safety-
When my inner self is sad, help me
find comfort and assurance-
When my inner self sees lack
show me my blessings-
And when my inner self sees failure-
show me my successes.
And. Great Weaver, above all help me
remember to share these good things
with the people around me.