What is our darkness?
our darkness constitutes Aspects of ourselves that are already present in our nature, but ones that we find incompatible with our ego, our self-concept, our presentation to the world.
Some consequences of our darkness:
Shame. To find any real, undeniable part of ourselves unacceptable is to find it shameful. We think we should know better, be better. We aspire to rise above these seemingly baser parts of our nature all the while fearing we might be exposed, found out.
Guilt. A favorite cousin of Shame. One stands ever-accused in one’s imperfection. And the imperfection seems incurable, unsolvable. Deep down one actually wishes one would be exposed and found unworthy. At least then one could rest---once the darkness has been dragged into light and no longer needs to be hidden constantly. Even Infamy can come to feel a lesser burden than guilt and shame.
Anger. To find peace while finding oneself fundamentally wrong is impossible. One remains divided, one part of us railing against another.
Our anger is seldom contained and neat. Others will suffer from it.
Exhaustion. To suppress real aspects of ourselves takes constant energy. And it is a lie. The adage about lies applies---one has to keep track of one’s lies to keep the story straight. This can get quite tiresome.
Confusion. Lies are confusing. Especially ones that are close to our self, ones that we are telling to ourselves. Every aspect of us has its needs and desires. While denying certain of these desires and needs we can muddle all of our desires. It can become difficult to know what one’s true motives are for anything.
Distortion & Leakage. Denying reality is a tall order. One is never entirely successful at it. Whatever we are denying will find a way to exert its force in our life. It will find a channel, a back door. This leakage tends to hurt those close to us. And it can be corrosive to those other sections of our life that we are proud to lay claim to.
Depression & Misery. Since we cannot admit to our darkness, we often cannot admit to the emotional toll that is being generated by darkness. First we bury aspects of ourselves that we find less than admirable, then we bury the emotional consequences that follow. Doing this---burying our anger, fear, guilt, shame---can render us depressed and stagnant.
Judgement. Our judgement against ourselves very seldom stays inside. Often it becomes the voice of condemnation towards others---many times the people who reflect and remind us of our own darkness. This is our confusion and anger functioning as a misguided missile. The fuel for these missiles is alternatively our self-righteousness and self-loathing. Many religious teachings have tried to provide guidance to us when we are at this juncture of judgement.
A Second Rate & Dull Life. By denying parts of ourselves, we lead a partial life. We become a house whose many rooms are sitting locked and stale, an engine that is firing on a fraction of its true power. Ultimately this is the path of convenience and cowardice---the life of quiet desperation. The next great discoveries of our lives might be waiting for us in those places that we keep saying don’t exist. To do this is to scorn our make up and our creator.
What sets the stage for our darkness?
Two factors: One internal, one external.
Internal Motive For Our Darkness Is Ego Maintenance. This is the real matter. This is where facing and making room for darkness is in fact a spiritual practice.
It’s the voices and judgements we have internalized that need to be examined. The parent, the priest---all the authority figures whose love and admiration we are seeking. We are all creatures of ego and presentation. This has its roots in survival. We learn what works and what doesn’t work in the family, in the school, in the world. We try to adapt and expand on the characteristics that are rewarded and hide and shun those aspects that are punished.
In time these choices crystalize and become our identity.
To grown up spiritually is to examine this crystallization. We become curious about our true nature underneath conventions. This curiosity is the spiritual spark. To ask, ‘Who am I?’ Our spiritual journey hedges on our willingness to let go of existing self-concepts on the path of discovery to ‘Who am I?’
External Motive For Our Darkness Is Social Consequences. Our individual ego is linked into and supported by the collective ego of our family, tribe, country. Each of these hold us to a certain criteria of presentation and behavior. My suggestion in this area is: Be Practical.
I am not for changing everyone’s mind or for forcing my ideas on people. I am more interested in my own journey. The real matter is about knowing oneself, being at peace with oneself. With the world, do what you must to get along, to retain your peace and prosperity. If you must be two-faced with the world, be. Don’t be two-faced within yourself. That is the real matter.
If you search, you will find your people, your tribe. The ones with whom you can let more of yourself out. These will be the friendships that encourage freedom.
On Harming Others.
People often say that they fear if they really let themselves be fully who they are, they are likely to hurt others.
I don’t have much faith in the efficacy of repression. If hurting others is in your nature, chances are you are already doing it. The difference between being aware of it and doing it consciously or letting it leak out of your system unconsciously is this: If you do it consciously, it will be a finite amount that will eventually bleed out of your system.
Know that all actions have reverberations and consequences for your life. This includes actions of repression. The actions you take in a fog while unclear about your motives will only be more karmic, more burdensome. Live and act with awareness and in time there will be lightness.
There have been great masters who have claimed that it is impossible to do any real harm if whatever you are doing, you are doing with full presence. Try it out. See if it is true.
We Believe Our Darkness More Ask people to name their virtues and they will admit that they don’t exemplify their virtues all the time, that quite often they fall short. But there is something that happens with those aspects that we want to hide from others; our presumption becomes that they must be true all the time, that is why they must be hidden all the time. By suppressing our darkness we give it more credence than it deserves.
In The End You Are Neither! To fully realize your humanity you will need to embrace both your brilliance and your darkness fully.
In your divinity, you are neither light nor dark. All characteristics slip away like costumes.
If you have been give a costume, play the part it requires, so that you may learn its lessons.
That’s where the joy will be found. That’s where you will be able to see the play of it.