Integrating the Darkness
If you like the musical Cabaret, or the Rocky Horror Picture Show, you're going to love the play and love expressed in this week's article. And if you don't like all-things-dark, I hope you'll find more Self-love and Freedom from reading this!
This week, we Integrate the Darkness (*insert mysterious organ chords here*).
In previous articles we have explored the core values behind all actions. When we easily find the core values in ourselves and others, we effortlessly reveal Highest Self in ourselves and others.
More spiritually speaking, some see core values as our Divine Aspect, our Spark of Grace. Seeing the beautiful, innocent, universal yearnings that make up who we are, one may begin to recognize the interconnected cells-in-the-greater-body-of-God that we are.
However, sometimes we don't see the core values because we are experiencing too much pain. When we have pain and don't have skills like SORTTing It Out, the Handshake or effective personal grief work, we can inadvertently lash out with our pain, in the form of blame, ridicule/shame/guilt, or other Self-alienated habits.
When we experience the core values in all actions, thoughts and emotions, we easily see the innocence in ourselves and others. We experience greater understanding, greater compassion, and far greater power to create the experience we want.
Have you ever met someone who rejects their own shadow? I sometimes don't trust people who are all about "rainbows and unicorns". Since we can only give others what we give ourselves, when I see someone has not yet come to terms with their own limitations and shadow, I don't trust them to be compassionate or understanding about limitations in others.
The funny thing is, the more "happy" and "uplifting" and "light" someone tries to appear (in other words, the more they reject, suppress and ignore the true balance of Nature), the more likely they are going to polarize forward negative expression in someone else, because everything that is denied then seeks even more to be heard and cared for. The more "rainbows and unicorns" someone tries to force, the more they push the rest of Nature to be louder, bigger, stronger. I believe this is, in part, why we have such a strong cultural divide across the world right now - there is dis-integration. The wealthy do not account for and integrate the needs, voice and reality of the rest of the world, and Nature is always seeking balance.
People who have not integrated their own shadow are easy to spot - they take themselves very seriously, and are equally as strict in their judgment of others. By showing that they have no sense of humor about their own humanity, they show that they are not likely to have a kind, moderate, gentle understanding about the humanity in others.
But it's absolutely reasonable that someone would want to avoid dealing with their shadow! Looking at our frailties and limitations can be humiliating! We are mortal beings; that alone can trigger a lot of grief.
Sometimes we don't want to face the darkness because we are afraid it will overwhelm us. If we don't have experience or skills to be with darkness, we can fear the paper tigers within our own psyches. Some people are even literally afraid of physically being in the dark.
Paradoxically, however, just like when children learn that it's safe for them to sleep in a dark bedroom, when we come to terms with our own shadow and find that core values are the path to integrate the darkness, we gain resiliency, strength, and liberation.
Even more, when we are willing to dive into the abyss of our own pain and fear so deep that there's nothing left but to laugh at the absurdity of it all, we find freedom beyond the 3-D experience.
If we can practice pure observation, and just sit with the core values (and/or grief) in each experience, it's not as overwhelming as we might fear. Like a muscle knotted from bracing, when we gently lean in and just rest there without running away, soon the knot lets go. Surprisingly then, from the depths of darkness we rise like the Phoenix, with humility, surrender, compassion and an extraordinary sense of humor. Our Divine Art is revealed.
In a way, this is like Nature. How do you find rainbows? To find a rainbow, we need to turn our backs to the sunlight, look into the dark, ominous clouds, stare into the rain, and voila there is the radiant beauty! You'll never see rainbows if you are unwilling to look away from the warm, comforting sunlight and gently, patiently look into the cold, dark rain.
Looking into the darkness has other rewards, too.
When we feel into the eyes of resistant, angry, unhappy, ashamed, insecure, bitter voices and relentlessly stand up for finding the beautiful, innocent, core values behind them, we find the "villain" transforms in front of us, to a face of love, a gift trying to be given. Recognizing the underlying love and gift behind these "bad" emotions, we gain the insight and power to make doable requests.
Soon we learn that, truly, there are no "bad" voices, only voices who don't yet know how to better express their face of love. They don't know how to better tell us the gift they are trying to give.
In a this-or-that world of duality, the sun is warm and life-giving so it is good, and the moon is cold and dark and spooky. Everyone talks about wanting happiness, sunshine, light and ascending to God. But think about it. Rainbows aren't the only things in nature that reflect light. Moonlight IS, also, reflected sunlight.
All "dark, cold, spooky" faces, are just a face of love, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. Think about the glee and play of a child approaching dark hunted house on Halloween. There is mystery, excitement and discovery in the dark places, if you meet it with the open heart of a child. Think about the subtle, erotic lure of Dracula, the deep rumble of a manly bass voice quietly growling in the ear of his lover. There is so much joy to be had in the darkness.
Why? Because darkness is not without light, love, embrace. Even death, which we fear so desperately, is the embrace of the infinite, a world beyond death, where there is only everlasting creation. No energy is ever lost in nature, it only changes form.
Where the light is shining purely, everything is seen, there is no mystery. If there is no mystery there is no joy of discovery.
When we become impatient, we lose our joy of discovery. All acts of anger, pain and hatred are core values tragically trying to be heard and cared for. When we reject attempts to be heard, we merely reinforce them. They get bigger, darker, more destructive.
When we integrate our darkness, we reclaim our sense of humor. We gain humility. We are human. We are flawed. We make mistakes. If we can embrace that gently and fluidly, we can use our resources to make better win-win choices.
To some, even words like evil, dangerous, and mysterious take on purely sinister tones. These folks may have lost their connection to the play of paradox. Look at the joy of children playing with costumes and masks at Halloween. All of Reality is a Sacred Theater. Women attracted to bad boys are so because they taste the delight of paradoxical mystery. Strong men seek black-boot-wearing dominatrixes in metal-thorny leather. There is love in it, play, delight.
Like the yin/yang symbol, we all need integration from apparently opposing sides, in order to be whole.
For example, the mystics teach about two paths, the ascendant path and the descendent path. Novices describe the ascendant path as uniting with God, and the decent and path is uniting with the sin of the flesh of creation. What these novices overlook, is that both the descendent and the ascendant path are paths to God. Gurus and Yogis sit in meditation diving deeply into the sensations of the body. The deeper and deeper into the fire of sensation they go, paradoxically, the more deeply they find a transcendent state of union with Source.
The path to God (or if you prefer, the path to your Highest Self) is not a straight line, it is an ouroboros, an infinite cycle of the snake that consumes its own tail. Light devoid of integrated darkness has resulted in the blind, dogmatic slaughter of entire populations. Devoid of humor, devoid of the wisdom that comes from integration, the self-righteous vilify all they do not understand. Paradoxically it's often the self-proclaimed "righteous" who perpetuate the most violence. Some of the worst atrocities among mankind have been handed out by those claiming the highest shine of idealism. Some of the most "spiritually advanced" practitioners, staunchly deny their own flaws, failings and limitations and engage "spiritual bypass" to try to ascend out of their own integration, thereby reinforcing and deepening their own shadow.
Sometimes people avoid confrontation because they want harmony, and they don’t have easy, effective skills to resolve issues. SORTTing provides a path to that ease.
Hopefully, with this article, with SORTTing It Out, and with practices provided in previous articles toward shadow work, grief work, and healing, you will find ways to help yourself and others to integrate, to transform enemy images and to see more of the world through the eternal face of Love that emerges when you recognize core values.
All that you think is "bad" has its innocence, and all that you see as "good" has its costs and drawbacks.
Allow yourself into sleep, in the darkness of sleep the body heals. Let the darkness hold you. Let infinite space and time be your infinite home. Let sweet, dark dirt Mother Earth support you; lay on the Earth, she's got your back.
Looking into the shadow can bring us, paradoxically, even closer to the light.
Embracing that, like death, we will all utterly fail at important points in life, somehow helps us to relax, to be more kind to each other, to fail less frequently, and to better adapt when we do inevitably fail.
By finding love for the dark, we find deeper love for our own Nature.
With deep love for all parts of you, warts and all, Maya