on the path
By William Carl Eichman
Published in GNOSIS #14 Winter 1990
from page Meeting Darkness 2 (BACK)Meditation on
death, corpses, and birth can
be useful for
dealing with the biological dark
side, for they
flush out morbid
fantasy, awaken us to our own
mortality, and remind us that change --death as well as life-- is the universal constant.
Death, aging, and accident must be accepted, but the incessant conditioning of the
cultural dark side must be resisted. The first stage of any practice is Yama and Niyama,
the duties and proscriptions that keep the practitioner free of (further) cultural
contamination. Classic eastern yogis, for example, are pictured as spending most of their
time insulating themselves from the spiritual impurities of their society. Hermitage,
fasting, and rituals created a microclimate around the yogi that was thought necessary for
success in meditation. This has become difficult for the modem practitioner. Monasteries
and hermitages are hard to come by. New strategies are needed to establish and maintain
the necessary "refuge of sanity" in a high-pressure world.
An earmark of authentic esoteric teaching is that it is alive, and adapts itself to changing situations. Lacking monasteries, we must adopt the method of"being in the world but not of it."
Resisting the hypnotizing background drone of society must become our new Zhikr, a "remembrance" that we must sweep our minds clear of excess cultural programming. A new prayer is needed: "Lord have Mercy on me a poor sinner. Let me not be controlled by the images on the screen." New types of personal temples, sanctifying rituals, and purifying practices are evolving. Biofeedback devices, flotation tanks, and alternative healing regimes speed up relaxation and the shedding of the stresses and suggestions of daily life. There are many possibilities for the modem esoteric practitioner, and the test of time will shape the new methods for dealing with the cultural dark side.
In the second stage of practice, in which meditation and exercises are performed, a whole new struggle with darkness arises. Personal repressed "evil" is released by meditation, and it must be examined and integrated by the practitioner as a necessary part of the meditation process.
As the repressed dark material rises, the practitioner is likely to experience frightening visions, feelings of terror, rage, uncontrollable ego reactions, and countless other usually minor but annoying and embarrassing manifestations.
These reactions must be expected and properly dealt with: they should neither be blown out of proportion nor minimized and avoided. Instead. it should be recognized that these eruptions of the dark side can he of great benefit for one's self-development. Ultimately, transforming these frightening visions into usable psychic energy is the only way to deal with them, and the nuances of this process of "turning lead into gold" will require every bit of skillful means that the practitioner possesses.
The usual first reaction upon seeing one's personal evil is to feel tremendous guilt and shame, and to identify with the Shadow, feeling as though one had just been exposed as evil incarnate. This is a false idea, as useless as medieval beliefs about demons causing disease. Personal darkness is a type of illness or injury, caused primarily by accidentally cruel programming during childhood, and it should be treated as such.
Everyone has a dark nature; it's a condition of life in our world, not a "sin." The goal of the practitioner must be to heal the illness and bring the injured area back into full operation.
The modem esoteric student must apply treatment to their dark nature; self-recrimination and wallowing in guilt simply does no good.
By healing the dark nature, vast amounts of personal power and ability can he reclaimed, for much of our ordinary powers as human beings are now hideously crippled by the personal dark side. These crippled areas, in effect. represent vast resources of contaminated and stagnant psychic energy. As one progresses on the path each confrontation with "evil" is an opportunity to grow stronger. This is desirable, for the repressed personal devils also grow stronger until one breaks through to the God in the Center, The actual process of healing and transforming the erupt- tions of the dark side can be very complicated. Because these dark complexes were written into the psyche during our childhood, reasoning with the "dark side" has almost no effect. On the other hand, rituals, purifactory regimes. healings, protective power objects, and special meditative and grounding exercises can all be of benefit when used in the right time and right place. The energy of the dark nature must be frequently released and expressed, and this should be done consciously, using art or ritual, to prevent an excess flow of psychic energy from harming family and friends.
In the final stages of practice. the biological, cultural. and personal dark sides have become integrated into the psyche where they function smoothly, fulfilling their dark side purposes. At this stage the cosmological dark side rises up like a black mountain to bar the way. Death returns. the ugliness of society returns, and the personal devil returns, all dancing like puppets on the strings of nihilism, meaninglessness. suffering, and heedless despair at the impersonal nature of the cosmos. In the face of visions of Billion-of-Years, nothing that we mystics do matters. There is no answer that we can comprehend, no purpose of life that we can understand, Faced with this helplessness, the practitioner is left with no option but surrender -- "Giving up the Ghost." At this point, we're each on our own -- and its not very comforting to know that the books say we'll live through it.
Light is infinite; dark is infinite. There may never be an end to the struggle with darkness. This does not depress the true practitioner. To struggle with darkness is the same as to strive for light. Both darkness and light are illusions: what lies underneath them both is nothing but Being, Bliss. and Consciousness. This should never be forgotten.
William Carl Eichman is a
teacher, lecturer, and student of
esoteric knowledge and self-development in State College,
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