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Dwelling in Darkness

Are you afraid of the dark?


You don't need to be. Each of us has an existential, perpetual, soul-based connection and kinship with darkness. We start life from within the darkness of a mother's womb each night we descend into the darkness of sleep and dreams we psychologically dwell in the darkness of the human unconscious and we are told that when this life ends, we will die into the darkness of death.  Darkness is all around us.  Is there something special that dwells and reveals itself in the shadows of our darkness?


Years ago, when I was practicing eyes-closed meditation and doing discovery excursions into the inspiring realms of creative reverie and hypnagogia, I began to see upon the dark screen of my mind's eye the movement of  subtle shapes and shadows.  If I patiently watched the shapes and shadows of my darkened mindscape they became separate and distinct.  They would move about on their own in the dark.  My darkness was alive.  These shadows of my mind had a life of their own.  Whenever I allowed this dark mindscape to unfold a dreamy, dimly-lit realm would emerge. I my consciousness - was dwelling in a land of shadows. This was my shadowland.  What started as a dark flatness in my mind's eye became a panoramic three dimensional realm of textured and dynamic darkness.  If I waited a bit longer, passively watching and suspending judgment, these dark shadows and visions would transform into figures, colors, objects, landscapes, characters, memories and eventually lucid dreams.  I had discovered that my darkness within was a multi-layered gradient of distinct and variant conscious states of mind. 


A few years later, I read Robert Monroe's, Journeys Out of Body, and was eerily surprised and awed by the similarities in darkness between my shadowland and his cartography of the out-of-body experience.  A while later I saw the movie, Ghost,  and was intrigued to see that if a character in the movie had a dark or evil aspect to them, when they died, they would be tormented and engulfed in their afterlife by menacing dark shapes.  More recently, I read an article by Raymond Moody, the author of the bestseller about near-death-experiences, Life After Life, in which he describes a clinical technique that he developed that involves mirror-gazing in the dark which apparently allows one to see images of deceased loved ones in and around the mirror. 


Who or what is it that is moving about in the dark shadows of our souls?  Every human being enters this shared, phenomenal world from the same universal and life-giving darkness: a mother's womb.  We spend our entire pre-natal existence as an inhabitant of the dark.  We are an inner-life within the physical inner-verse of another life, our mother. Perhaps the biblical adage, "ashes to ashes and dust to dust" can be restated as "dark to dark and shadows to shadows".  Inevitably, we all will return to where we started into the darkness.  In each waking moment our consciousness flickers between the clear light of knowing and the deep darkness of not knowing.  Each night we retreat from the light of day into the dark, dreamy realm of sleep.  Each human life completes itself in the dark, shadowy dimension of death. 

Perhaps enlightenment is learning to see and embrace our shadows in the dark by cultivating the soul's underdeveloped capacity for nightvision.  So wake up, take a look  and remember, the next time you are dwelling in the dark, don't be afraid of the dark, look into that darkness, for you are that darkness.


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