The notion of dark and light and its relationship has been coming up a lot for me lately in my contemplative practice. Why do we, as humans, try to escape darkness? This never ending chasing away of our dark side is enough to lead any Being to madness. Have you ever tried to chase your own shadow? What happens when you do? It does not disappear. It is with you. And every time the light shines on you or you feel the warm rays of the sun, sure enough you will also be greeted by your shadow. This is the principle of polarity.
What would it look like if we were to fully embrace this "dark side" that many ignore and, some, even fear?
Looking at this image of Isa and Malachi remind me of this embrace. This beautiful display of mutual grooming. Affection. Embrace. Love. In its light and in its darkness.
Without the wisdom of the Dark Horse, we wouldn't appreciate the White Horse's message of Hope and Healing. Without the mystery of the Dark Horse, how could we recognize our need for White Horse Purity?
This image of the black and white Horse intertwined in embrace brings to my mind's eye the Taoist symbol of the Yin and Yang. A perfect circle, one side black, one side white; each with a small circle within of the opposite color. This Taoist symbol reminds me of the Yogic philosophy of non duality. Yes, we practice the eight limb system of yoga for self realization, but with this practice, the realization that we are not alone is also apparent. The realization that we may be a cup of water, but we come from the Ocean of All That Is. If we fail to acknowledge this duality - we cannot recognize the non duality of all things. That little dot of the opposite color seen in the Yin and Yang symbol serves as this same reminder. It is never ALL black and ALL white....it just IS. When I think about that little dot..what comes to me is equanimity. The ability to stay in balance. When we are standing in our light, it is easy to lose our footing on the ground. That little black dot reminds us that darkness is never far. That is not meant to cause fear or anxiety, but rather deepen the connection to our equanimity in order to remain in balance with our Self and nature. Just the same, when we are in times of darkness, we don't need to become swallowed by our suffering...but rather embrace that same state of equanimity which will reduce our suffering to being present with the direct experience of it. We see that little circle of light within the dark and that is enough to know that this too shall pass.
It is as if the light is something we all move toward. It is natural to want to be guided out of the cold of the darkness into the warmth of pure light. I mean, who ever would want to leave the light to enter the darkness? Then again, in the blistering heat of the sun, we do seek the shade.
Through my healing journey and the process of learning to embrace my own shadow and dark side, I realized that by unleashing it to the Cosmos through creativity, I was able to be productive with it and really LOVE all sides of my own polarity. A polarity present in all things, but one that many Humans will induce their own Dukkha (suffering) in order to suppress and ignore it. However, this doesn't work on the spiritual path. It will only serve as a road block from further growth and evolution. It will manifest itself in one way or another. In agitation or dis-ease.
A quote from Chris Irwin in his book "Dancing with your Dark Horse", he writes:"I'd lock my shadow away in a dark stable deep inside me. That worked for a while, and yet here it was, free of its chains, rearing its ugly head and prancing in front of me."
What would it be like to befriend this darkness? Dance. Play. Sing. Create. Cross the threshold from light to dark and honor it, in its right. SET IT FREE!
Buddhist monk, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche shares his story of transforming anxiety and fear into pure joy in his book "Joyful Wisdom". He describes his powerful revelation:
"In that moment, it hit me that the light I was looking for WAS the tunnel and that the tunnel I felt trapped in WAS the light. The only difference between them was my perspective - the way I chose to look at my situation."
And THIS is when the LIGHT of our true nature can shine to its greatness...when we can realize that in this polarity, is ONE. One being. One heart. One soul. One moment. One love.
If we are Beings of Love and Light....we must love it all.
I mentioned at the beginning of my post that this theme has been coming up a lot for me lately. Well, the presence of this season, as being the darkest season of the year, brings up another reminder to me of illumination. This time of year we celebrate. We light up our Cities, Towns and Homes. We light up the lives of others by giving from our Hearts, coming together to ensure all enjoy the sacredness of the season. We surround ourselves with light during the dark of the season. On the flip side, this season is also the most difficult for many. To embrace this light when they are grieving loss or feeling a lack of love in their lives. If we can truly connect with the non duality of things, we can see that we are ALL illumination. We are ALL love. No matter the darkness of the season of our circumstance, the light is always there. It is part and parcel; we just have to make the connection and love both sides for what they are.
For me personally, this dark season becomes a time of light as I dive deep into introspection and study, only to reveal more of the beauty and magic within. The Horses support this journey as they too spend much time in meditation, with less activity, less guests and less pleasure of pasture grazing. But without this darkness, how would we come to appreciate the smell of Spring and the sight of the first flower in bloom?
So what does this all mean for humanity? So many people running from their own shadow and wreaking havoc in this world. Living in fear and anxiety. Why does it seem that our current era is ridden with these conditions? Afraid to embrace it ALL with the power of LOVE. Robert A. Johnson, Owning Your Own Shadow, explains Dr. Jung's philosophy:
"Dr Jung had pointed out that it requires a sophisticated and disciplined society to fight a war as long and complicated as World Wars I and II. He said that primitive people would have tired of their war in a few weeks and gone home. They would not have had a great accumulation of shadow since they lived more balanced lives and never ventured as from from the center as we do. It was for us civilized people to bring warfare to its high development. And so the greater the civilization, the more intent it is upon its own destruction. God grant that evolution may proceed quickly enough for each of us to pick up our own dark side, combine it with our hard-earned light, and make something better of it all than the opposition of the two. This would be true holiness."
In this present day I feel a SHIFT.
There has been a huge shift of people staying closer to that center he speaks of. The center of life, often referred to as Zazen or Meditation. Less consumerism, less consumption, less technology; more simplicity, more service to others, more CONNECTION.
I have hope. And a lot of it. That we will stand together as One. Owning our darkness and our light while honoring the darkness and light of others.
The meaning of the greeting "Namaste" can be summed up as "the place of light within me honors the place of light within you". It is a universal message of love and light, to be shared far and wide with our loved ones, neighbours, friends, community and the world.
As I sit here on the computer with my desk light on, I see my shadow. Right beside me, showing itself on my desk and the side wall. I say "Hello" with warmth and love. Welcome Home.