The Dark Side of Being Light

The Dark Side of Being Light
Shadows are Inevitable on the Path of Spiritual Illumination

Stay strong
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Guiding yourself

There’s a point at which you start to feel that the enormity of things is so unbelievable, you wonder how you’d ever been walking around at all. With eyes held so tightly; slivers, before. How on earth did the light get in? How did you ever arrive where you are?

Perhaps, in being led towards the heat.

Spiritual Practice

Developing any kind of spiritual practice, anything that brings you greater awareness of yourself and your relationship to the world around you, is a process of stepping into a fire and allowing the flames to eat you whole. It is not gentle. It even seems unkind.

There is rage, there is fear, there is fury. There are days when you may feel unable to move or, sometimes, breathe. In these moments, one cannot fathom how there is anything left to do but let go.

And that’s exactly when it begins.

The Rise of Spirituality

It’s a beautiful thing to see spirituality flooding into the media en masse. Great spiritual teachers and seekers are rising up in profound, modern, and thoroughly authentic ways.

For so many of us, seeing these lighthouses appear is a welcome sign from our seemingly endless days at sea.

We are often brought to creating our own spiritual practice, whatever that may look like, by a period of inner and outer turmoil so unbearable we believe we are being torn very slowly into fragments.

Part of this is true, we are being torn, to be fed to the fire. Part of this is not true — it’s not unbearable, because we only receive that which we need to grow and expand.

Alt text hereChildren power along at every angle and degree to expand outward into the world. Image: Zac Durant

The contrast is that in our seeking, we believe we have found wholeness. As if it was outside of us all along. The answer. We think, great, I can meditate and have conscious sex and drink green juice and I will slowly diminish my experience of negativity and pain.

I will forget about my secret impulse to self-destruct. I will forget about my insecurity. I will disregard the truth about my identity.

Forgetting things doesn’t make them disappear. Pretending to not feel doesn’t mean you can’t. Someday, you will, and you will feel everything. It will not stop. It will not cease coming, it will only grow in intensity, and it will beckon you to the edges of your sanity.

And that’s exactly when it begins.

Led to The Light

After an initial period of flocking to the light like a moth on a warm summer evening, we tend to realize that no matter how venerable our guru or preferred practice, much of this path is to be walked alone.

When we fail to realize this, we are often catapulted into situations that isolate us, exactly for this reason. Life won’t baby us. She’ll demand that we show up.

The process of being led to the light, of waking up as so many of us like to say, is not simply becoming more luminous. I’d love to see that idea detonate. It is also the process of getting very intimate with the dark, ravenous, insatiable heaviness inside of you.

Freud’s death drive. The Kali aspect of your Shakti. The brink of your humanity which wishes to experience it’s temporality in all ways — blissful and devastating.

The more we practice, the more we realize that the more we let the light in, the more the darkness will arrive, exist, and grow to bring contrast. Denying it causes a lot of mania.

Underneath a façade of purity there is always a deeper story. The whole point is to experience balance, and we can’t get there by sweeping our old stories under the rug. They have to be transmuted. Alchemized. Used as kindling. The darkness. We have to look at it.

When we continually push it away, judge it, or believe it to not be aligned with our path (often read: who we think we are) it only grows in power and presence. A real-life example for me was reconciling my sexual energy with my yogic dedication.

In retrospect, it’s hilarious to me that I ever believed I would subdue a part of myself that is not only not dark but also entirely yogic. And also, a core part of me. I let go.

And that’s exactly when it began.

Alt text hereChildren power along at every angle and degree to expand outward into the world. Image: Fares Hamouche

Shadow Self

There is a long history of study of the shadow self. This subject often gets a lot of flak, and likely because people want to focus on the positive aspects of growth. Can’t blame them.

What happens when we ignore the parts of us that we are afraid to look at, is that we become slaves to that master. We hide a secret that we think no one can see. They can.

It grows and grows, and becomes fear, guilt, shame, terror, anxiety. The pangs of which you may not wish on your worst enemy.

I have this vision often, when I am facing something truly terrifying, of being just above water, and consciously, making the choice to submerge. Dark, choppy, ocean. An adventure to the depths. It guides me in these instances.

I remember how small whatever I’m up against is in contrast to the vastness of my life. I remember that my darkness intrigues me because I allow it to. I want to know myself fully. I want to love every corner. I want to meet people who love every corner.

You can sort of sense it, when you meet someone authentic. They’re tapped into this. They’re unafraid of being a hot mess. Of being too much. Of having a vulnerability hangover.

They really don’t give a f*ck, because they recognize that darkness is part of being human, and they are okay with baring their humanity to the world. In a society focused on continual upward mobility, it’s no surprise that so much success is built on artifice and lack of depth.

The more we reject the notion that it is okay to have darkness, and that these part of us are not less likeable, loveable, or spiritual — in fact, they make us more so — the more we venture down the path of being half-human.

The darkness is real, it’s not going away, but once you look at it, it becomes something else: the canvas upon which the cosmos are born. Choosing to be half-human means denying yourself the possibility of exploring the furthest reaches of the universe.

I’m not sure about you, but I came here to be full-human.

And that’s exactly where it begins.

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3 years ago

I believe if we make friends with our dark, then we can more readily accept ourselves just as we are. In every flaw, there is beauty. If I remain open to all experiences and remain in that fleeting moment, the dark often turns to light. Without darkness there is no light and without light, there is no darkness. Thank You for the gift of your article.

5 years ago

I once created a fictitious reality for myself, where I was alone on the planet, surrounded by beauty and peace and security. I tried to live there, but, as you can imagine. Every time I saw a negative news broadcast, or comment, or conversation, it shook my fictitious world and I got really anxious because of my denial towards the real world. then, I would spiral into incomprehension and ruminate for days on how to understand/save the world. Only to later, broken and beat, return to my fictitious place and hide. Now, I am mindful of both the good and the bad. Instead of creating a total peaceful place, then dreading the chaos. I try to be at peace, within the chaos. This article reminds me that I am a human being and that I need to feel and to process everything life has for me. good and bad.

5 years ago

Very very true

5 years ago

I believe this to be so very true. I want to Live a full life embracing it all and find the Balanve between the dark and the light.

Mr. Kevin Toro Hour
5 years ago

I am happy with how I am. I am dumb and slow and full of flaws but to me I love it. I dont need the Universe or Godly powers or Love or anything like that if I have to give up everything I am and learn this and that. I have 20 years or 30 years maybe, I dont want to even see 60. I want to die young after I know my family is okay of natural causes or just a unknown painless death before wrinkles appear lol. Just want a big family of friends and loved ones around me then. cheering and helping one another and having the financing to help others.

Mike Smith
6 years ago

Loved the article, nice to hear a kindred voice on my solitary journey.

6 years ago

Light and Dark are relative terms, contrasting with each other. One cannot exist without the other, so we accept the yin and the yang.

Gai Waterlow
6 years ago

For me personally, whenever i sat in silence to discover the truth behind my anger, irritation or judgment, I would always find myself out in the “dark’ void of the universe… peaceful… quiet and eventually revealing… in my experience any projection of negativity onto another being (or object) is my inability to own what’s hurting me in that moment. However, we can get lost in the naval gazing, even addicted to it in place of other addictions without transforming the behaviour, and this has been my most excellent teacher. It’s one thing knowing our shadow/dark side/projections, it’s another thing to change the negative behaviour in ourselves imho. But it is vital work that needs to be done so that we can choose to live in a more compassionate and loving way, which has to start from self Love. I’ve always wondered How can we expect another to love us unconditionally if we cannot love ourselves in that way? I found it hard to stomach some of the history i had to revisit and observe and i felt a lot of shame at first for not responding more appropriately in the past. Now i’m learning to forgive myself which is proving to be more difficult. Indeed I’ve forgiven others more easily for even more unpleasant behaviours. The belief that my physical body ‘houses’ a most magnificent soul energy while i’m alive on this amazing planet keeps me moving toward more loving behaviour. I also like the idea that the energy of Love is what holds everything together harmoniously, ultimately, and that it is indeed a choice to behave badly. When my girls were little, being a single mum and overloaded with responsibility, when i felt really blocked i would simply ask: what would love do now? And it would change then entire situation. Just sharing… Love to you all…

Pearls of wisdom
6 years ago

Yes well said with all the information ,, I too am strolling,, jogging ,,sprinting,,walking,,still learning,,exploring ,,experiencing,,sharing,,baring it all with no shame ,guilt or embarrassment,, like a snake shedding it’s skin with each growth , I’m accepting,, being ok with ,,understanding,, being one with this all ,, HARD !? YES hell yes but with your acceptance ,,willingness to learn thrive survive share , N to be OK with it all tears ,,heartfelt ed depression ,, shedding the guilt ,, the fear ,, the all of the above ?? I know this wonderful journey is great , N gets better n better n faster n faster it’s EXTREME n every possible word we can put down n describe is true n real n worthy n worth venturing ,, I can’t fill my brain enough with information research ,, learning my brain is a sponge I say I must feed it lol so welcome ,, walk along beside me ,,join me ,,we’ll all gather join hands ,, & SUCEED , SURVIVE ,THRIVE ,MOVE FORWARD , TEACH , N SHARE , WRITE N SING WE ARE US ONE LOVE & LOVE IS GRAND N CONQUERS ALL ,!!! WOW I jus typed this all at once within 10 mins spitting it out with excitement, , I LOVE !!! PEACE!!!✌ ALSO my lifetime symbol in all my pictures lol the peace sign !! MUWAHHH MY FAMILY N LOVED 1’S MUWAHHH XOXO ??✌✌??✌✌??✌✌???

6 years ago

So true

7 years ago

This article is beautifully written in the aesthetic sense. It’s poetic and passionate. Yet it feeds into the human need for self justification and relies on vague terminology and seemingly conflicted ideological associations. It combines a discourse of new age oneness but undermines it with an individualistic, self centered world view that condones the selfish, sheltered notion that individual success trumps collective success. As if one can run up a proverbial mountain and find truth in isolation. We are a highly social species after all. And, rather than combine forces to change the course of this world, we must go live in jaded, disgusted isolation and work on our pathetic selves, alone and uninspired in our narcissism, while preaching a superfical ideology that only works to justify our misguided righteousness. You only serve the the masters of mankind when you support a discourse of individual improvement versus collective progress

Leena Colibri
7 years ago

Wow, yes! I walk this path in community with others. We call it SoulFullHeart, yet it goes by many names for others who walk out something similar. It is a driving need and desire inside me that keeps me on it. A fascination with my darkness that leads me to my light. I love that this article is out there for people to take in. I have been humbled so many times by life and each time I feel the fire, I come out renewed and with a deeper felt sense of who I authentically am, though I get that I can never likely know it entirely…. I look forward to connecting to others who live out their spirituality and awaken their consciousness with the words from this piece in their hearts and minds. <3

Cynthia Taylor
7 years ago

This is so perfectly timed for me. I’m so intrigued by the darkness, but so much mainstream spirituality focuses on being enlightened and goddess-like, and I allow myself to get mentally tangled up. I resist what I want to explore in favour of what I think I ‘should’ be doing. A great reminder to look inwards.

7 years ago

Engaging article. Love lots of the comment. I would just say that what we call darkness is quite subjective. Also , a shadow is caused by something blocking the light……and in psyche, that is somewhere we are blocked. So removing blockages within us is essential to allow more light in. Many ways this can happen, through fire, water, wind, or the earthquake effect. Walking towards light means being willing to face this journey of purification and transformation.

Jenny Allen
7 years ago

Im not sure what were talking about here. The darkness…our shadows? I mean, enlighten me. Speeding, sneaking in the queue when many have stood patiently for ages, slipping the odd buck into your back pocket, gambling the months rent away, sneaking off with yer best friends wife. Or are we talking the real dark side to humanity which sucks the life and soul out of a human life. If you really want to discuss The true human darkside then to be honest, I find it terrorfying. How anyone can honestly say they welcome the darker side to their humanity, scares me. Do you see how deep and this rabbit hole goes. What this evil & grotesque dark side does to itself and others? Have you? It traffics children, brutally for lust without a seconds thought. It fires guns removing souls from its lifes joy and experience. It tortures, rapes, Manipulates, destorts and destroys… Screw that mumbo jumbo. Life is precious and we have to choose. The darkness has one goal to destroy light…the light of the soul. I choose the light and quite rightly fear the darkness. Fear serves a purpose, there is a reason we have it. Its a warning. Not just to protect us physically but spiritualy too. Any kind of mumbo jumbo that tries to say its ok to not be concerned with our dark side of nature either hasn’t truely thought about it or just has no idea what theyre really talking about. Everything here is about duality. I get that and obviously non of us are saints. However does it make it ok to be cruel or nasty and justify it because we have this darkness. No to transcend this we must take responsability. Be mindful of our thoughts, and be aware of our fear. Allowing both to guide us on our journey. Its not ok to be cruel. Its not ok to judge. Its not ok to critisize. We do it because we haven’t chose. There are forces that want you to feel confused and loose perspective of whats right and wrong. Things have got twisted but your own true light has always been there to guide you. If you think its ok to kill and destroy that is your perrogative. Its your path.

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