Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Dark Enlightenment



"One of the darkest truths of this dark enlightenment
is that all too often it is friction that ignites the spark 
from which the fires of  enlightenment can begin to burn." 
                                              -Orlando

January, 2001

This is a path of dark enlightenment.

          And immediately, the reader has some impression that tells her it isn’t the path for her. The mere use of the word “dark" conjures up images contrary to what we want to believe is “right” or “wrong”.  In the long run, to say this is a path of dark enlightenment is more accurately saying that it is not a path to be undertaken by those looking for fluffy, frilly, sweetness and light explanations or exercises that guarantee not to usurp more than 5 minutes of your valuable time. A true evolution of consciousness doesn’t respond to 5 minutes a day any more than a successful career is built on 5 minutes a day. It is not a journey for those looking only for validation of their existing beliefs and an I’m-okay-you’re-okay justification for their weaknesses. It isn’t a path that will tell you there are guardian angels looking over your shoulder, but a path which will show you that you are ultimately your own guardian, your own angel, your own destruction, or your own evolution.
     
 This journey isn't just a way of looking at life, but the way in which we choose to live, and as such it requires an unbending commitment to the Self.
     
People want to be told that it’s okay to smoke today as long as you intend to quit tomorrow. It’s okay to sit in front of the tv 7 nights a week as long as you go to church for an hour on Sunday morning. It’s okay to bury oneself utterly in one’s job or hobbies, because that’s what’s expected of productive members of society, and yet still think of oneself as a deeply spiritual person by virtue of having read the first chapter of The Four Agreements.
     
Of course, this isn't to say we can't find pleasure in the pleasures of life.  It's the dissipation and self-indulgence that are our greatest enemies.  For example, as I have said before, I'm not living the life of a monk with some glassy-eyed stare. On the other hand, one way I avoid the glassy-eyed stare is also by not living the traditionally normal life of the consensual reality. Going to a movie - even a really bad movie - might give me some things to think about. On the other hand, immersing myself in mindless television night after night would insure that I never think. So it's a matter of making the impeccable choice.

Knowing that we are creatures who thrive on pleasure and shun pain, it is our nature to feed the one and avoid all avenues leading to the other. And yet, what's important is not to confuse pain with hard work on the spiritual realm. It's our definitions that rule us every bit as much as how we apply ourselves to our individual journeys toward evolution. If we choose to define "pain" as anything requiring effort, we have fallen victim to the lowest common denominator of what it means to be human. While I generally have no use for slogans, there's something to be said for the idea of "no pain, no gain." We can no more expect our immortal "soul" to be healthy through neglect than we could expect our bodies to be healthy if we too much fast food, drink too much whiskey, and exercise only by raising the fork from the plate to the mouth.
     
We have to do the work, and it is a moment-to-moment, day-to-day mindset that guides us to always be making the choices that will further our cohesive consciousness instead of detracting from it.

Whenever we succumb to our lowest common denominator, whenever we decide, "Well, I'm only human," we have admitted defeat before ever taking the first step on the path. Whenever we decide to live down to that lowest common denominator instead of living up to our highest potential, we are consigning ourselves to the dust, and this is clearly not impeccable.

But impeccability requires hard work, and that's not what anybody wants to hear.  It wasn’t what I wanted to hear when I first talked to Orlando and he began by asking one simple question:  “Who are you?”

The answer I gave at the time was some pathetic recitation of what I believed to be a very impressive list.  “I’m a professional writer. I’m in a relationship that’s lasted for 20 years. I’m a martial artist and a horsewoman and a real estate agent.”

To which Orlando replied, “Yes, I’m sure all of those things are true, but they’re what you do. Who would you be if there were no more books to write, if your relationship were to end tomorrow, if you could no longer be involved in martial arts or horsemanship, if you did not define yourself by your job? Who are you, Della?”


I could not answer. And it was that single question which launched me on this dark and treacherous journey. I call it dark because it is not a traditional path. It cannot be called a path to enlightenment alone, for I’ve discovered that light can only be perceived from the darkness. Without the existence of the darkness, light itself would not exist.  And, ultimately, to deny the darkness within ourselves is to deny at least half of who we are. We are yin and we are yang, and another dark truth is that it will take both working together in balance and harmony to propel us into our evolution of consciousness. Why?  Because it is often from the so-called dark side of the human soul that our strongest motivation comes. If we are not hungry, we have no reason to hunt or farm and so we perish. If we do not experience fear when presented with danger, we fail to run or fight and so become prey for predators, whether human or otherwise.

But perhaps most importantly, if we do not feel real grief when we stare our own mortality in the face, we have absolutely no reason to want to live forever - if not in physical manifestation, then through the energetic vessel of the double, as a singularity of consciousness. Unconditional love is the primary motivating force behind this journey. The love I have for life, for all its beauty, and for the ones with whom I share this journey is so profound that I am compelled to turn over every proverbial rock in search of an answer that might allow us to continue this wondrous existence into infinity. So in that way, it is truly love which motivates the journey, yet without turning to face the opposite side of love (loss), we live in a false and an all too temporal garden.

Sadly, most people simply will not look at the darkness at all, and it's interesting to note that one of the primary programs currently being uploaded into all of us in this Western culture teaches us to live for the right now, grab what pleasure we can, to hell with the environment, to hell with tomorrow. The results of this are obvious. We live in a fast food world of indescribable pollution, irreparable damage to the planet, destruction of the rain forests, the extinction of thousands of species due to Man's greed, and horrors so heinous no sane individual can look at them head on and not feel outraged, horrified and overwhelmed. We've lost respect for ourselves as a species, and so most people don't even look at what they're doing or what they can do, turning instead to the false security of inane sitcoms or organized religions.  (Is there really any difference?)

What can we do about it? On an individual everyday level, we have to acknowledge the problems before we can even begin to solve them, and that's a matter of each and every person making a commitment to themselves in whatever manner they feel appropriate. On a more spiritual level, we have to turn and see the darkness before we can even begin to realize what's at stake. We have to acknowledge that we can lose the very air we breathe before we have any real motivation to change our behavior. But more than that, on a far, far deeper level, we have to acknowledge that we can lose the Self - the very I-Am consciousness - before we will find any reason to turn off the t.v., get up off the church pew, turn off the computer, and go take a long look in our own mirror, asking ourselves the first question:

"Who are you, Self?"

I once said to a fellow traveler that it has taken 10 billion years of collective evolution for the atoms of my being to come together in exactly this manner which I recognize as "Della". I have no conscious awareness of having existed before, and though I realize a great many people subscribe to the ideas of "reincarnation," I see little evidence for its existence beyond a mere molecular level. Yes, the "molecules" of Marie Antoinnette and the Marquis de Sade are still here. They have always been here and always will be. Perhaps there are even ingrams of sentience still attached to some of those energetic molecules, thus we might have a "feeling" that we were once part of Marie Antoinnette and mistake that feeling for some sort of proof that we live again, when in actuality it's only a recurrence of the molecules and not a recurrence of old Marie herself.
   
Each of us has within ourselves the molecules of eternity. We might just as well say we were once a tyrannosaurus rex as to say we were once Cleopatra or Queen Elizabeth I. Both are equally true. Both are equally irrelevant to the survival of our individual consciousness, the "I Am" we are right now.
   
I offer these ideas not to open a debate, for those who Truly Believe in reincarnation will not be swayed from that belief system any more than a true Christian can acknowledge that perhaps Jesus found the way, the truth and the life, but he himself was not the way, the truth and the life for anyone aside from himself. I offer these ideas, instead, in the hopes of encouraging every seeker to turn and really look into their own mirror and see what will be lost if we don't evolve. It's you. All that you are. All that you love. All that you have ever seen or experienced or known.

In the movie, Blade Runner, Roy Batty makes an incredible speech as he sits poised on the rooftop, on the edge of the abyss, knowing he is about to die.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Time to die.
-Blade Runner, copyright © 1982, Warner Bros. Pictures



This is the voice of consciousness railing at its own mortality, and until each of us turns and looks in our mirror to confront what will be lost like tears in the rain, perhaps we are depriving ourselves of our strongest human potential - the potential to choose and embrace our own evolution of consciousness into eternity.

How is this done? That's the question and that's the journey. But without first asking that question, without first confronting that the thing we stand to lose is the Self, no journey is possible. Until we grieve our own mortality and go to our own funeral, we exist in the comfortable world of illusions, safe in our individual temporal garden. So in that way, the old legends of being thrown out of Eden might have some value as allegory. Until we stand naked before ourselves, tiny insignificant creatures looking out at a vast and infinite void, we simply have no reason to take action.

Of course, part of the journey is coming to recognize that we are really not the tiny, insignificant creatures we have been programmed to think. For on the other side of that "dark" molecular structure is the realization that we are far more than any tyrannosaurus rex or Marie Antoinnette or QEII. We are the entire universe, for the simple reason that we are comprised of exactly the same star stuff as the universe itself, and the universe is imbued with sentience. We can become eternally conscious if we can figure out the puzzle. Or we can surrender our atoms - but far more horrifically, we will surrender our very consciousness - back into that void if we don't evolve.
     
The sentient universe is neither loving nor hateful.  It is neither god nor devil. It simply exists, containing all possibilities. What determines which of those possibilities actually go through the formality of actually occurring is entirely up to the Creator.  There is only One Creator.
   
 You are The One.

While this is an intriguing thought, we don't achieve a state
of perfection by default. We achieve it by doing The Work.
New age enthusiasts like to refer to humans as “beings of light”. And yet, these are only hollow words, for as much as we are moved by beauty or art, we are equally as affected, perhaps even thrilled in a negative sense by extreme ugliness or the human capacity for destruction. In fact, we are far more likely as a species to watch the latest video of the bombing of (fill in the blank) than we would be to tune in to PBS to see the collected works of the great masters simulcast with Mozart or even Pink Floyd. In short, we are creatures of darkness every bit as much as we long to be “beings of light”, and it is the two halves of our souls working in creative balance that will eventually enable us to answer that question: Who are you?

That isn’t to say this is a path that promotes negativity or dark thoughts. But neither does it attempt to downplay those parts of ourselves by pretending they don’t exist, or by trying to disguise them as flaws to be overcome. We are human, and as such we are as much enthralled by an airplane crash as by the flight of the eagle, and there is a very good reason for this. We perceive in opposites - light/dark, good/evil, black/white, on/off, true/false, life/death, pain/pleasure. Without juxtaposition of perception, we cannot begin any real exploration. So to those so-called "wisdom methods" coming into current popularity which teach "only the light" or encourage participants to "banish the darkness" within themselves... I would advise you to run like hell, for the bottom line is that any teaching which encourages us to ignore literally half of our perceptions is not a teaching we can afford, for it is a method that is attempting to re-program us into acknowledging half of what we truly are. Without friction, the wheel still won't turn.

Though I once thought myself rather odd and even completely out of step with my fellow humans, I have come to realize that many, many people in this world are simply “plugged in” to a leaning toward autumn over spring, a love of night over day, a preference for the minor-keyed melodies over Sousa marches, a case of  feeling more alive on a rainy night than a sunny afternoon. And since researching shamanism, I have come to understand that some of these tendencies are simply part of what is referred to by Arnold Mindell, Michael Harner and others as a “shamanic personality” or “shamanic initiate."

It is a case of hearing a different drummer, and many of us who choose to dance to his rhythm often find ourselves in the position of being seen as witches, heathen, devil-worshippers, or simply “weirdos” in the eyes of our consensual society peers. In reality, of course, it’s all a matter of perception. A witch is nothing more than a healer or someone who seeks to use all the tools of perception with which the human organism has been gifted – call it magic or sorcery or simply self-empowerment.A heathen is only someone with whom we ourselves do not agree as to ideology. And in order to worship the “devil” I would have to believe in the traditional version of “god”, so to my perceptions, assigning such labels to someone drawn to the shamanic path is ludicrous.

 Reality is perception.  The world will see us how it will. We will see the world through the eyes of our own perception. They will seldom if ever be in agreement.

I walk this darker path because it is the only road to enlightenment I have ever seen.  I was raised in a strict Southern Baptist environment, and as a result was exposed to Christian philosophy and theology all my life. Two of my uncles were ministers. And despite all of this, despite my (somewhat unwilling) baptism at age 7 and my wholehearted attempts to believe in God as a means to salvation, I suspect that the brains this so-called “god” gave me prevented such a system of blind faith from ever taking hold because it is counter-productive to self-survival.

I’ve often said to my Christian friends that if god exists, surely he gave us this grand computer on our shoulders to use in order to better ourselves, in order to evolve to be more than we were when we came into this world, to become more than the sum of our chemical and mental processes. In short, if god exists at all, he gave us the ability to evolve – not by waiting for him to save us, but so that we could save ourselves.

One of my most profound shamanic visions came one night in meditation. It revealed to me that the Universe (what some would call "god" or "nature" or "the all") gave all she had when she sprang into being in the first place. Nothing was withheld. The Universe gave us the blueprint for eternity, for the Universe herself is struggling to evolve in all possible ways - to become greater than the sum of her parts, greater than the combined consciousness of all her individual lifeforms stretching backward and forward into infinity. The Universe is struggling for eternal cohesion of consciousness, just as those of us on this journey are.

And in her bid to evolve, she gave each of us our highest potential, building it into us through the molecular structure of "reality" itself.  It was crystal clear to me - the Universe withheld nothing. What this means, quite simply, is that we are on our own, but with all the power of the Universe imprinted onto us down to a sub-atomic level. In other words, in that grand burst of energy that caused the very Universe to spring into existence out of whatever nothingness had existed before, everything was used.  No sentience was withheld to function as "god".

May 25, 1998

Nothing was withheld at the moment of creation.
The universe won't interfere in the affairs of man...
because it can't. 
        Before anything we currently think of as being part of the universe existed, there was only an immense void – a nothingness, the abyss, a black hole which had gathered into itself all matter and energy.  It was all there was.  Yet from the nothing – literally a thought which created itself in an act of spontaneous parthenogenesis – the “universe” sprang into being.  A thought creating itself because it wanted/needed to exist as an entity separate from the void.  It required identity. In essence, it demanded life, yet the only way for it to achieve life was to create itself from the nothing and hurl itself out in all directions, a sudden sentience breaking apart from whatever non-reality had held it previously.  Because it was a thought/creation of will, it created itself with perfection – i.e., it gave itself all possibilities needed for survival and, even moreso, it gave itself and its component parts (all of those parts, including us)  the ability to evolve in order to adapt to changing circumstances within its own continuum.

        If we think of the void as containing all of matter/energy, then the universe is the stage of time – and both together create the continuum of space/time and matter/energy.  Before the universe existed, it was perhaps contained inside a single particle no larger than an atom – yet from that single component sprang all of creation, willed into being because the “entity” we recognize as the universe had to expand beyond the sum of its individual parts – i.e., it had to evolve to be more than it was before, much like an infant being born.

         In its creation, it gave all the beings who would eventually exist within itself the ability to continue through evolution – for the ironic thing about the creation of the universe is that it gave all it had.  It won’t interfere in the affairs of man because it can’t. There is nothing left of “it” except all these individual components that comprise the all – so, in other words, there is no “intelligence” sitting outside the universe who can intervene in its destiny.  In its original creation, it used all its “parts” to create the whole – which also means that it used its full intelligence, its whole awareness, its absolute will, and in doing so, it automatically created each individual “cell” of itself with those qualities. For that reason, each of us – whether man, animal, stone, vegetable, air or distant sun – has the “blueprint” for our own unique evolution.  In creating itself to survive, the universe gave us the ability to evolve.

         The problem is that the universe and all its individual components are at constant war with the void in that it’s the nature of the void to take back what came from it and it’s in the nature of the universe to avoid being taken.  For example, through death, man is returned to the void. His consciousness would appear to be obliterated from this universe and, in time, even the flesh and bone turns to ash and the ash deteriorates to atoms. Beyond that, Man cannot perceive.

         The only way to avoid such a fate is for each individual creature to create its own continuity in the same way the universe seemingly created itself from the void. We must strive to become our own individual continuum, expanding beyond the reach of the stage we currently inhabit – i.e., we must create our own continuity by saying – willing  “I Am”, just as the universe itself originally detached itself from the void when it sprang into being from the nothingness.

      It seems inconceivable that the universe came from anything but a thought, an incredible force of need/will breaking free of whatever “reality” held it together before its “birth”.  Because we are part of that creation springing from the same exact molecular “source”, we also possess that same strength of will within ourselves – the will to survive, to be more than mere “fate” has sanctioned us to be by virtue of existing within the known universe. Just as the known universe must have existed within whatever continuum previously held it, so do we exist within it, but just as the universe had to break free of the void in order to achieve its own separate continuity, so must we break free of the known universe if we intend to evolve/survive beyond it.
     
As parents, we teach our children survival skills. We don’t tell them to jump in the river without knowing how to swim, and rely on mommie and daddy to save them, or to carry them to heaven after they are dead. If we are truly loving parents, we teach the children to swim so that they can save themselves. Surely the Universe would do no less for her children.

Evolution through intent and will is the swimming lesson.

_______________


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