Friday, August 30, 2013


Lyrically, spiritual life is often bathed in light. It shines. It casts out doubt and fear and darkness. A torch is lit and brightly-arrayed angels emit soaring harmonies. It's like swimming in some luminescent chocolate mousse to hear the lyricists tell it. En-LIGHT-enment!

Lyricists, of course, can only reach so far and there are those of a serious nature for whom lyrics do not suffice. They want to shine, not just be shone upon. And it is here that practice begins -- practice and practice and more nitty-gritty, lose-the-lyrics practice.

And it is in this realm that I wonder vaguely at the literal role of darkness. Literal, nighttime darkness. Darkness when most creatures sleep. Darkness, where mind lets go on its way to sleep. Darkness, where egg and sperm conjoin. Darkness where what is feared, though fearful, is not so etched. Darkness where other possibilities seem more possible because, perhaps, they are closer to the free-wheeling world of dreams. Darkness, where there is less stuff and hence a more relaxed approach to the stuff that remains. Darkness, a razor's edge between relaxation and utter vulnerability ... a delicious eek of a time when light makes better sense ... in the darkness.

Is this true or am I making it up? It seems to me that there was a time when darkness held my hand -- ever so late at night or ever so early in the morning. It was quiet and it seemed, somehow, that I was more open to the light ... or was I just making it up?

The well-coiffed lyricist (who may or may not be imbued with experience) can intone with a knowing scowl, "Light or darkness -- no difference!" or "Sun-faced Buddha, moon-faced Buddha." But at a time when darkness held my hand, I was in no way ready to swallow those morsels of wisdom, those morsels of chicanery. I was just some poor schlub wrangling and tangling with whatever it was that spiritual life was supposed to be ... in practice ... fuck the lyrics.

Fuck the lyrics and yet in the darkness, the lyrics seemed less like lyrics and more like something honest. I loved them in the darkness where I could not see or be seen ... in the quiet when all others slept ... in the darkness that relieved and relaxed and opened me up ... even if it was a dreamy, lunatic fairy tale.

None of this is to suggest that darkness was always a boon companion. Sometimes its solo solitude was enough to rip my eyes out. But was it true or did I make it up -- the seated meditation pains were less intense at 3 a.m. than they were at 3 p.m.? Comparing pains is an idiot pastime, but I never claimed not to be an idiot.

Darkness and light. The light beckons but the darkness ... is it true that the darkness -- the literal, physical darkness -- lights the path in some more quietly compelling way, some easier way, some way as secret as egg and sperm uniting?

I honestly don't know. But it crossed my mind.

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