Sunday, August 16, 2015

Imagining figures of light

Much is being said these days about spiritual awakening, and the causeless joy, clarity, peace, and bliss that are inevitable milestones of the inner journey. Not all that much is mentioned, however, about the disappointment of awakening, or of the ways it can break our hearts, dissolve our dreams, and crack us open to the reality of the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the transfiguration we are likely to encounter along the way.

In the full embrace of life—right inside the messy, achy, shadowy nether regions of the heart—we are invited to meet the wholeness of what we are, which includes the dark and the light, the movement of separation and union, and the entirety of what it means to be an embodied human being. Awakening is not only a creative process, but a destructive one. But it is love which is appearing as creation and destruction, taking whatever form it must to reach you and to seed your body with its qualities.

As Jung so poignantly reminds us, we do not become enlightened by “imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” He went on to say that the integral journey of the dark and the light is one that is often “disagreeable” and thus would never be popular. In a culture that has fallen under the spell of “being happy” – and the incredible pressure to disembody and practice aggression toward the shadow – we would do well to heed Jung’s advice. For in the disembodiment to the darkness, we abandon the jewels which have been placed there.

The ancient path of love may never conform to our hopes, fears, dreams, and fantasies, for it is emerging in the here and now as an emissary of the unknown itself. Let us rest in the aching truth that one of the primary roles of the beloved is to seed deflation in the field of separation. Yes, awakening may always be a disappointment, from the perspective of egoic organization. In this sense, the journey is eternally hopeless, but it is in the creation of a home for our hopelessness—and allowing it to be illuminated within us—that we are finally able to step into the sacred world, which has no bias for dark or for light.

As we journey together as fellow travelers, let us find a way to embrace both the joy and the heartbreak of spiritual awakening, and bear witness to the wisdom shining out of our immediate experience, whether it appears as sadness, bliss, despair, or great joy. It is true that grace will appear in both sweet and fierce forms, but regardless of its particular manifestation, it is still grace, sent from beyond to open us to the radiant fullness of being.