A Spiritual Almanack – November

November 9, 2009 at 3:27 pm Leave a comment

November – Darkness

Hexagram 29- Kan





In times of danger and darkness, people should cling to one another.

Although this time of year is one of increasing darkness, an expansion of yin, we don’t have to give in to that darkness or sink into fear and despair. There is always the possibility of finding the light within. In life we have two choices: we can choose the path of love or take the path of suffering. Because life is complicated, sometimes the path of love leads to suffering and the path of suffering conversely can lead to love. But when we find the light or choose to move towards it we move towards love and embrace whatever life brings us.

Our existence depends on the light of the sun. It gives us energy, warms us, and gives life to the plants which feed us. But light is important for us not just for physical sustenance but as a spiritual need. Light has always been identified as the source of life, consciousness and the spirit, just as darkness has been identified with ignorance and death.

The Prasna Upanishad says,

The rising sun is the symbol of life; it rises to bring light to our eyes.

The sun is life, the moon is matter. The sun gives light and life to all who live, and is the life-energy of the universe.

Therefore, the wise see the Lord of Love in the sun rising in all its golden radiance to give warmth, light and love to all.

All of us, no matter what colour we are, or language we speak, share the same response to the light. As the yogis and rishis of ancient India understood, we are all part of one united Self and we share this Self – what I experience you too experience, what I feel you feel. This is the foundation of the first law of ethics, the Golden Rule found in so many cultures:

Act towards others as you would like them to act towards you.

When we realise this unity we are able to act together, to collectively raise our faces to the light, which shines not just as a symbol of life but as a symbol of our freedom. We can then stand and stare in wonder and amazement at the beauty of that light, the light that represents insight, truth and understanding, warmth and compassion. It is only our ego driven attachments that obscure this light.

To act together means to find solidarity and community with others, and this is why the I Ching says,

In times of danger and darkness, people should cling to one another.

We are living in dangerous times, and our leaders are foolishly breeding even more fear among us, but at such a time it’s important to realise that whatever dangers we face we do not face them alone, but are all in this life together. Then we are able to understand that united we can be strong and conquer our fears, while divided as individuals we merely cower at home.

The sun is constantly shining, even though clouds sometimes obscure it and the turning of the earth puts it beyond our sight. But even at night the moon reminds us of the sun’s presence. When something that we know exists is absent, we feel its presence even more. These lines were found scribbled on a ghetto wall in 1945:

I believe in the sun though it is late in rising.

I believe in love though it is absent.

I believe in God though he is silent.

What we seek is harmony, the perfect balancing of dark and light, positive and negative, spiritual and material, optimism and caution, consciousness and the unconscious, that will allow us to synchronise our lives with the laws of nature. When we think and act in harmony, then life has an integrity, a wholeness that permeates, surrounds and arranges all of our relationships, giving us an incredible lightness of being that enables us to float up from the darkness of fear and despair into the sparkling radiance of the light. We can become like Chuang Tzu’s Taoist immortals,

Their spirits mount up on the light,

their bodies freed from limitations.

This we call being bright and ethereal.

They complete their destiny,

and leave no single potential unfulfilled.

They enjoy heaven and earth,

and life’s conflicts dissolve.

All things return to their original nature,

merging with the mysterious darkness.

The Svetasvatara Upanishad tells us that our yoga practise is a means of discovering the inner light of our original nature, the light of wisdom and grace,

Choose a clean quiet and cool place for meditation and the practise of yoga, where the sounds of dancing water and the beauty of the place foster thought and contemplation. In deep meditation you may see forms like snow or smoke, you may feel a strong wind blowing, or a wave of heat, or you may see more and more light within. These are signs that you are on the spiritual path to reach the Eternal Spirit of Brahman.

When the yogi has full power over his body, he can increase the spiritual fire within, giving better health, a light body, and freedom from craving.  When a gold mirror is covered with dust, it shines again when it has been cleaned.  When you have been cleansed with the truth of the Spirit your life is fulfilled and you are beyond suffering. Then you become a lamp by which you find the truth of the spirit and see the pure Everlasting Spirit, freeing you from all bondage.

This is the Spirit whose light illumines all creation, the creator of all from the beginning. He was, he is and always shall be; he is in all and sees all. Let us adore the Lord of Life who is ever present in fire, water, plants and trees.

The writers of the Upanishads created this prayer, which epitomises our spiritual quest,

Lead us from the unreal to the real

Lead us from the darkness to the light

Lead us from the fear of death to knowledge of immortality

Entry filed under: Spiritual Almanack.

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