A Thousand Suns at Midnight
All of this life I have seen things in the inner vision ranging from things in the sublime to scary beasts of the underworld. The truth of our Being doesn’t just give us access to one high octave, we get the whole piano. We experience the Angels and a few demons.
Whenever images of the ‘darkness’ have appeared throughout my life I have run away or blamed myself for being defective. I would slam the door shut. I wrestled had the thought that there must be something wrong deep inside me. Surely a good person would not see things like this! One of the gifts of this struggle has been years of deep introspective work facing the darkness in myself – seeking to grow and move on toward full awareness of truth.
Several nights ago I woke up in the middle of the night with what felt like an exploding universe in my chest. The experience was of a thousand suns bursting forth, utterly dissolving and altering my ‘body’. I began to experience a lightness of being, and the body felt like it might lift off the bed. The heat and light and sense of unbounded universal love were overwhelming. There was an almost deafening sound of birdsong coming from just outside the window. This was not part of the inner vision, it was in the ‘real’ world. It was a raucous symphony of bird calls, as if all the birds in our neighborhood were in that one tree, singing their dawn songs as loudly and joyfully as they could. It was pitch black outside, and I couldn’t figure it out. The following morning one of my sons pointed out that the birds had been celebrating the dawn of my heart.
As you can imagine, this was a rather amazing and sublime experience. I was utterly infused with light – like I was light. Yet, in the midst of this explosion of light and awareness, doubt crept in. My inner skeptic wondered, “Is this real?” As that thought arose, suddenly, about 6 inches in front of me there was the face of a terrifying demon. Unbelievable. Here, in this gorgeous moment of awakening into a new reality, the darkness popped up yet again.
This time, instead of slamming the door shut, I responded in a new way. I dove into the darkness. I felt no fear, only a powerful, unstoppable drive to understand. There was no hesitation as I sought out the biggest dark lord I could find in what felt like the middle of the underworld. I demanded to know why he came to me. He was completely surprised and unsettled by my presence and by the question. He had no desire to hurt me, instead he seemed utterly perplexed by my lack of comprehension. He simply said, “You welcome us.” That answer was followed by a download of images of what called him to me – self negating thoughts, self-denial, the underlying belief in unworthiness and separation from God. He had been drawn by the simple doubting thought, “Is this real?” I was stunned.
This was a profoundly humbling moment. This big ‘scary’ guy was there to be of service. I have been running away all my life from a source of deep wisdom. He and his ‘friends’ apparently come running to the siren call of doubt of our unity with God. We are connected to Source in every way, even this.
Many questions arose. Are we so powerful that every doubt elicits darkness? Or is his frightful form the living image of doubt of the Divine? Or perhaps every doubt we have creates the darkness or is the darkness? Perhaps these frightening images are just projections from the confusion in the mind? As we release our doubts, do we free or elevate these apparent ‘others’ who are trapped in darkness? I think, perhaps the answer to each of these questions is ‘Yes’ when seen from different perspectives. This is humbling indeed.
Just listen to the circular tracks of antiquated, habituated thought swimming in our heads. I don’t know about you, but even after years of release and meditation and living on the spiritual path, I still have a sound track of self-censure or doubt running in the background at times. It is utter narcissism of course – blatant self-aggrandizement in separating that ‘self’ from all else in creation. As a child I thought myself the only dirt clod in a universe of crystal balls. There is a way that this ridiculous notion is deeply comforting – at least I am special and unique in some way! We are sort of lost in space as human beings, especially as children, and this way of creating a self at the center of the universe. It is comforting way of creating some sense of center, of ‘home’. We do a lot to hold onto that illusion. In everyday life we constantly support each other in maintaining that illusion.
The simple answer given by the ‘dark lord’ continues to alter my life. What changes do I choose to make in my consciousness? How many small assumptions, predictions, and limiting definitions need to be turfed out? The dive into the ‘underworld’ revealed a truth of stunning grace. Illuminating light arises in the deepest dark. What I rejected out of fear actually offered one of the most precious tickets on the path to embodying enlightenment.
After a few days of reflection, a deeper truth emerges that erases even the concept of a separate ‘me’ or ‘you’. As I release the beliefs in separation, a curious truth arises. There is actually no one left to even generate a thought. A ‘self’ did not create the doubtful thought. Instead the doubtful thought created the false sense of a self. The jail of our negation thinking actually contains no prisoner. The ‘I’ does not exist in that sense.
While this may sound even crazier than the story of a thousand suns in the chest and the demon in the darkness helping me, I assure you it is true. It is on the shore of the sea of the Buddhist teachings that the self is essentially empty – that it has no independent origination. In short, there is only the Absolute, and the Absolute and the world of Relativity are One. That teaching has felt cerebral and dry to me for many years, yet I assure you, this is revealed as truth. There is no need to move into fear or confusion about this. In reality the emptiness of ‘self’ contains within it all the bliss and joy and love we can possibly hope to experience, far beyond our comprehension in face. In a way, I am learning that my life-long fears of the empty darkness are utterly unfounded. Hopefully as the thousand suns continue to unveil in the chest, I will no longer doubt.