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The Heart of Darkness

February 25, 2010 1 comment

It is an unusually dark and gloomy day in Colorado. We are so use to the bright sunshine here and high skies. There is occasional light snow falling which lightens the day; the white is a beautiful contrast to the dreariness, the black clouds threatening more snow!

Light and dark – The Taoists used this contrast as a metaphor for the dichotomy of masculine and feminine energies. The Tai Chi symbol, a central representation of Taoism, highlights this contrast but also presents the balance between them and the dynamics of the energies: note the black feminine “fish” as it spirals around the white masculine “fish” as if chasing his tail. Also note the bit of feminine black in the white “fish”, its “eye”, and the white masculine “eye” of the feminine “fish.” It is a powerful image and tells us much about the ancient wisdom of Lao Tzu and his fellow sages. They fully appreciated and respected the feminine principle. Perhaps this is best explained in the first chapter of Lao Tzu’s “Taotejing.” This translation is by Red Pine:

The way that becomes a way is not the immortal way
The name that becomes a name is not the immortal name
The maiden of heaven and earth has no name
The mother of all things has a name
Thus in innocence we see the beginning
In passion we see the end
Two different names
For one and the same
The one we call dark
The dark beyond dark
The door to all beginnings.

I love this image of the dark door, full of mystery and the unknown. Yet, it seem soft and warm, welcoming. It is that feminine energy which moves us to sink into ourselves and become one with all. It is that doorway which humanity is called to move through. We are on an exquisite threshold. Are we brave enough to enter through to a new dawn?

Light and dark. I have found so much of value in China Galland’s book, Longing for Darkness. I quote a passage here which speaks so passionately and so eloquently about this darkness:

“…longing for darkness is a deeply felt human need that cuts across, goes beyond, and at the same time includes issues of ethnicity. This is a multivalent darkness. This is the darkness of ancient wisdom, of people of color, of space, of the womb, of the earth, of the unknown, of sorrow, of unconsciousness, of the darkness beyond the light, of matter, of the descent, of the body, of the shadow of the Most High.

“Like light, darkness has a wide range of symbolic meanings. The color black can signify the stage just before enlightenment in Tibetan Buddhism–imminence; space; burning; the final stage of the soul’s journey to beatitude in a Sufi tradition; wisdom; fertility in Old Europe; purity in a Turkish tradition; mourning in the West; and the first step in the medieval alchemical process, the nigredo.”

Beautiful! Nothing to be afraid of there but something to embrace. The Taoists embraced the Feminine energy; so much of LaoTzu’s magnificent work is about the Dark Feminine. It is time for all of us to remember the importance of the dark. It is time for us to step through the “door to all beginnings.”