June 4, 2015
I look far above, into the mask-faces of these old lies — the mandate of pain, the sentence of death, the shoreless ocean of blame and guilt that salts their wounds — and I ask the dark woman beside me to collapse their plastic towers and burn their bodies as they fall. The dust of their charred remains will make a fine bed for awakening. I must also look into that stranger’s face in the glass and tell him to cease begging for beginnings: destroy first, then renew. Just kill all these ghosts, and resurrection will take care of itself.
Pursuing knowledge: daily accumulation. Following Tao: daily unburdening. Decrease, diminish, deprogram: Continue in this till power is dead.
For when action lacks force, nothing is left unaccomplished. Rely upon your true eternal nature, and you will never have to strive again.
But let your life become a game of inner commerce, and you will never cease with making deals; you will never feel fulfilled — in this or any other world. (Lao Tzu)
Revealing the Beautiful Dark
Darkness is alienation from the dark of Nature. It is hard to say this in any other languages than those of poetry or music; because when we try to make it into a psychological principle (which it is, in fact), all manner of shadow-selves and evil twins and dirty doppelgangers tend to appear. The dark, in the poetry of Lao Tzu, appears differently — as yin, a solid whose essence is emptiness; action that doesn’t do anything; strength that is clear of both power and ambition. Every true yin has yang at her core; every genuine yang bears yin in his heart. For while darkness forces division, the great dark holds the whole within the arms of Her fearless love.
But the philosophy of this principle — even expressed poetically — is far less important or interesting than the experience of it. The more you know about it, the less you will live it. So I am not here to teach you how to liberate your great dark by unloading the derived darkness of a corrupt culture. Indeed, I don’t know how it’s done, because I don’t do it. But I can speak to the benefits of such a practice: living free of conflict, competition, hatred, guilt, self-blame, and despair is, even to a limited extent such as I can discover, exhilarating and regenerative beyond any societal or external fulfillment I’ve experienced. It’s better than sex, even as it draws from its creative and generative well.
Well, let me walk some of that back a little: I do know how it’s done, somewhat. I know how it’s done for me. But that won’t be how it’s done for you. Nevertheless, a few general principles may be said to apply to each of us — maybe to all who undertake such a path, I don’t know. I try to avoid generalizations, for that has been a significant part of my darkness.
But one such principle would follow from the above: when you clear away the darkness of derived belief and imprisoning emotions, the natural dark of your true self is revealed. When that dark is opened, you don’t even need to call on the light; it will be drawn to you. Thus, true prayer is an opening rather than a plea. Nature doesn’t really abhor a vacuum; she simply fills it. Let your communication with the invisible follow this guideline and you’ll never have to ask God for anything again. As Lao Tzu (above) teaches, the “game of inner commerce” (propitiatory prayer) actually stiff-arms the invisible helpers you need to move your life forward and outward.
Open yourself, let go, receive, give thanks, and give back. It really isn’t very complicated.
No: A Way of “Daily Unburdening”
Light doesn’t need an invitation, let alone a command. “Let there be light” was about as complacent and pointless a command as a god could have given the Big Bang — what else could there have been? Any dark, open presence will attract light. Even a black hole draws light, and may even port it to other universes (according to Hawking’s most recent theory).
The only thing that won’t attract light is darkness; that we need to get rid of; and one easy way to accomplish that is a process known as deprogramming. Now the dictionary defines deprogramming as “release from apparent brainwashing, typically that of a religious cult…” For our purposes, that definition will actually do, because collective belief is very much like a religious cult and its various brain laundering compulsions.
To this end, I have learned the efficacy of a single two-letter word of our language: No. The seeming simplicity of such an approach is misleading. We are, after all, trained from an early age to repress No: to obey, to get along, to comply, to fit in. But as the old saw has it, No is yes but to a different question. To negate the compulsion to believe, to obey, and to “know your place” is to affirm your true self, your individual nature whose like has never been nor will ever be again. In that respect, No kicks ass.
And in the context of the overall theme of this discussion, No is the dark that both throws off the shroud of darkness and attracts the energy of light. Now, in my experience at least, the work of No is a threefold path, viz.:
- Self-examination and identification. Discover what it is inside you that is limiting, inhibiting, controlling, dominating, or imprisoning you and your natural development as an individual. Further down, I’ll offer a few examples from my own practice.
- Pouring the energy of No into that darkness, and thereby banishing it. Give this practice your body’s complete attention and energy. It goes beyond mere language: I have found that virtually any life activity can be cleansing if it is done with that as its primary or leading consciousness. Thus, I practice the “inner No” while walking, weightlifting, stretching, cleaning, and of course meditating.
- Opening yourself to the help of the invisible world in completing the work of this cleansing. You don’t have to believe in any gods, angels, spirits, guides, or other daemons to encounter and communicate with the quantum reality — it’s better, in fact, if you believe in no specific ideological creatures or figures. Just make your life an invitation to the hidden realm and its unique presences, knowing that you are not separate from or alien to them — as the Hindus say, tat tvam asi — you are that.
Now there’s plenty of room in all that for you to formulate and refine your personal practice. One significant element that I’ve brought into my practice is sexual energy. Sex is one of the most cleansing and restorative energies in the known universe; and certainly a mighty force of purification available to the human species. Of course, part of your work in this respect may involve deprogramming demonic ideas about sex and sexuality — that it is evil, mechanical, selfish, impure, or any of that other Catholic/Victorian nonsense that still sticks to sex. Cleaning up the language of sexuality means also fixing the colloquial associations of darkness as well as expelling the puritanical bullshit.
I am tempted to tell you it’s all quite easy; and from a certain perspective, it is: small daily efforts that take little time and energy, especially when measured against the magnificent richness of their benefits. But I’d prefer to tell you — and I think it’s actually more accurate to say — that a genuine path of what Lao Tzu called unburdening takes you beyond hard and easy; it leads your life off that iron bar of the opposition between difficult and facile; body and spirit (or Mind); conflict and peace; self and other; death and life.