In this chapter, I start with a story of my my journey through a difficult time. I share how there are two types of darkness. One is the darkness of the mind; the other is the darkness in the silence. The dark times we experience in our minds relate to the struggles and challenges we have with the outside world, our past experiences, and our struggles with ourselves. These become the dark times we go through. The darkness in the silence is the place within us where we experience the presence of God. This chapter ends with the description of the veils that cover our true nature and how to remove them to experience a greater depth of the silence that lives within in us all.
The Beautiful Darkness
Positive Affirmation: Light gathers within the darkness in the silence, calling me to become a co-creator with God. I willingly accept this call to fulfil my role.
When I was thirty-three, I went through a dark time. I ended a 16-year relationship with my (now) ex-wife, and my next relationship ended after two short years. The combination of these two endings caused my mind to break. I felt like a failure and that I had nothing to offer the world. Everything around me became dark and difficult, as if the light had suddenly gone out. I could barely get through a workday without breaking down. After work, I would run upstairs to my apartment and fall into tears of grief and turmoil. Night after night, I was alone in the darkness with nothing but my broken mind. I stepped away from everything I had known, including my spiritual practice. The shame and guilt I felt from dropping into this dark abyss kept me from reaching out to friends and family for support. The same thought kept circling my mind: “How could this be happening?”
I had spent eight years studying spiritual books with a local doctor who had befriended me, after that, I spent another eight years with the Ishaya monks going into the silence. I had dedicated approximately fourteen years of my life to healing myself but yet, there I was, broken, reduced to hiding in a dark hole, having suicidal thoughts for the third time in my life. These thoughts taunted me, begging for permission to put an end to my suffering. The first time these thoughts came to me were in my early teens while struggling with a growing dichotomy inside myself. As a young man, I felt that I needed to adhere to the gender roles that were expected of me, yet inside I was a soft and sensitive soul who felt deep compassion and empathy for others. The second time of deep despair was in my early twenties when my anger and angst toward life had come to a boil. I was discontent because I felt stuck working in a factory when my heart knew I was supposed to use my artistry to make my living. By the third time I became suicidal, the intensity of these experiences was growing. I was becoming more desperate to get out of my head. I could no longer stand to live inside myself.
During the three years following my divorce, I raged war with everyone around me. By the end of that time, I had driven away everyone close to me, leaving no one left to fight with but myself. So, that’s what I did; I tore myself into a million pieces until the only thing left to do was pick up the pieces and put myself back together.
My healing began when I started to let go of the trauma I’d been carrying since early adolescence. Out of this dark period came a willingness to explore all the traumas that were pinning me down. As I worked through my healing and letting go, a light within me became more and more visible. I realized that this light had been gathering in the darkness within the silence.
Slowly, I found my way out of my difficulties, and I promised myself I would never again allow the thoughts in my mind to trap me. I declared that my life was worth more and meant more and that there was much more for me to do. I had a purpose. What lay behind me paled in comparison to what lay ahead.
During my period of healing, I decided to befriend the darkness and look even deeper. When I stopped rejecting my past and allowed my struggles to be present, I created a space between those struggles and myself; this helped me see how my repetitive thoughts and emotions only added to my difficulties. Learning to let go taught me that I don’t have to do battle with my past.
Befriending my struggles became an empowering experience. It helped me to learn more about myself and it put me in charge of where I wanted to go with my life. By dropping into the silence, I found the space I needed to stop struggling with my thoughts and emotions about my perceived problems. With a firm conviction to rest in the silence within, I was able to go deeper and hold my focus more clearly. By doing so, I found a different kind of darkness, a deep, silent space that lived inside of me. In this darkness, I could see light gathering. And this beautiful darkness I had discovered in the silence held great wisdom. The wisdom it held offered the direction I needed.
In this chapter, I will share how there are two types of darkness. One is the darkness of the mind; the other is the darkness in the silence. The dark times we experience in our minds relate to the struggles and challenges we have with the outside world, our past experiences, and our struggles with ourselves. These become the dark times we go through. The darkness in the silence is the place within us where we experience the presence of God.
We often think of the dark times as negative. However, dark times can be significant pauses while the light within us is in the process of gathering. The light I refer to is creation gathering inside. During dark times, a large portion of the suffering we experience is happening in our minds. Dark times typically involve change, and these changes force us into new and unknown experiences. Change can be hard on our ego, for the ego’s survival (which is the mind) thrives in what it knows or thinks it knows. We often derive a sense of safety within the confines of the mind. But by letting go of our negative thoughts and the desire to keep thinking them, we make peace with the unknown. This starts to settle the mind while developing faith and trust that there is order to what seems so dark and out of order.
A generous portion of my healing occurred when I stopped thinking of myself as a victim. By accepting responsibility for my role in the dramas and traumas happening around me, I realized I had contributed to these difficult situations. The wounds I’d been carrying revealed patterns, because we often repeat the same lessons until we heal the wounds of our past. Slowly, the dark time I’d been experiencing transformed into a beautiful journey of healing and self-discovery. I did not see it that way at the time, but when I look back, I recognize it was a necessary catalyst. The idea that darkness is “bad” is common. It’s derived from the need for our ego to maintain comfort and control. The truth of what is
happening during our dark times is that the light is coming forward, and significant changes are just around the corner. When we lean into those times and the darkness found in the silence, we discover guidance and direction.
The Darkness of the Silence
Whenever I pondered how creation works, I’ve noticed that Creation moves out of the darkness inside me. The energy of creation rests in the darkness, in the silence within. It is germinating and gathering light, waiting for the right time to come forward. The light gathering in the darkness is the mother of creation—the feminine aspect of God. The word “matter” is derived from the Latin word for “mother.” Therefore, creation is the Divine Feminine in motion. This beautiful truth was hidden from us for many years. It points to a deeper understanding of how creation works.
In the book, The Secret Doctrine, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky states, “Light is matter, and darkness is pure spirit.” In saying this, Blavatsky is referring to a greater truth about light and darkness. Over the centuries, many truths have been disguised by reversing their meaning. The truth about darkness certainly falls into this category. Although darkness is commonly associated with evil, I agree with Blavatsky’s statement. The nature of darkness is the unmanifest, pure consciousness of God.
The light that gathers in the silence is unformed consciousness—an unexpressed potential waiting to be actualized. Darkness is not void of light; it is where the light gathers. This concept might not fit into linear or logical thinking. However, the mind doesn’t hold Divine knowledge. It’s the silence that makes sense of what is not comprehensible to the mind. By embracing the silence and resting in the darkness, our consciousness expands, settling the combative nature of the mind.
As a writer, public speaker, and artist, I have spent thousands of hours watching the light of creation arise within me. The process is often the same: I focus on the silence within, and what comes out is always a surprise. Over the years, I started to realize that creation was coming to and through me. I wasn’t responsible for what I created. It was the light gathering in the darkness of the silence.
To fully embrace the darkness and the unknown, we must surrender to the eternal moment as it unfolds. We do this by letting go of our thoughts and emotions and by holding our focus on the silence within. The next step is to simply watch what is happening around us, which will allow the light within to come forward. There is nothing to offer the darkness in the silence other than the willingness to surrender. The light that emerges is love in motion. It gives everything and requires nothing. By resting in the darkness of the silence, God’s grace leads the way as the mystery of life unfolds, causing our lives to become an outlet for the Divine to express itself. We set down the mind and have faith that the guidance we receive from the silence will reveal meaning and purpose when it’s necessary for us to know.
In my book, Be Love, I shared that creation is movement. We remain still and allow the movement to rise out of the darkness. Nothing moves out of this darkness until the light of creation moves it. This unbridled, feminine, creative power is God moving through us. When the ego attempts to force creation, we reduce the power and Divinity that creation holds. Tapping into this profound power, happens with surrender.
Bringing the Light to the World
Everyone experiences dark times, whether they are financial, physical, mental/emotional, spiritual, or a combination. The growing number of people feeling such stress and confusion has many contributing factors, including our attachments to our minds, desires, and fears and the seemingly unending trauma and adversity that life brings. Taking time to work on our physical/mental/spiritual health and turning to the silence within will reduce that stress and confusion, balancing our body, mind, and spirit. This reminds me of the story about the Tower of Babel. In the story, God divided the people by giving them several languages. The power they had when unified with one language was no longer available. We live in such a time now, where many don’t understand—or try to understand—the experience of others because we are pursuing our own causes and need for power and fame. In so doing, we have pushed God away and redirected our worship to technology, the mind, personal desires, and material objects. If we live only to serve glory for ourselves, we can’t serve the Will of God that has been placed in our soul. What’s even more detrimental is the growing belief that there’s no such thing as God. When we have no belief in a higher power, we then believe we are it—we believe our minds hold all our answers.
A healthy relationship with the mind and emotions turns them into tools we can use. However, when we are out of balance, they become the masters and we the tools, which adds to the growing confusion in the world. A carpenter doesn’t use a circular saw to pound nails, nor do we need to use our minds and emotions to run every aspect of our lives. As more people learn to follow the guidance arising out of the silence, we will begin to see the light of God come into this world like never before!
God is made manifest in the light of creation, and the most important creations we can ever join in are the ones that stem from our souls’ purpose and the ones rooted in unconditional love.
Collectively, we are the caretakers of God’s Will for the world. By expressing the light of creation that lives in the beautiful darkness of the silence, we move swiftly into this role.
The internal lamp within the silence illuminates our path. Becoming still and quiet helps us to hear and understand its guidance. When we bypass the mind and our emotions, we can establish a deeper relationship with the light within the silence. We can then live a truly creative life that is led by our intuition. Intuition is not to be mistaken for the ability to predict and read the future. Instead, it’s the internal guidance that directs us in the present moment. When we cling to a future moment, we remove ourselves from our internal guidance and return to the mind’s desire. We often confuse intuition with “inner-wishing,” and perceive the thoughts in our mind and the feelings in our body as guidance. Such thoughts and feelings might very well accompany intuition, but we find absolute knowing in the silence. It provides guidance that is beyond our mind and senses. (My first two books include passages and exercises to help open this ability.) It’s not about building an ability to use intuition but building a relationship with the silence. Our connection to intuition automatically comes out of this relationship.
The Veils Obscuring the Beautiful Darkness
My path has been one of constant creation. The gift of being an artist has taught me a great deal about connecting with the pure spirit within the silence and bringing forward the light that dwells there. No matter one’s path, we all are capable of connecting to this unmanifested potential through the doorway of the heart. The more conscious and open-hearted we become, the more we dissolve our individualized sense of self, and the reality of the absolute becomes self-evident. We penetrate the veils that cover the interior silence by our willingness to turn inward.
The Four Veils that Obscure Our True Self
1. The veil of the material
2. The veil of sense/body/emotions
3. The veil of mind
4. The veil of separateness from God
The Veil of the Material
The veil of the material is penetrated by understanding that all form is temporary. We own nothing, and nothing owns us. The desire for material objects keeps our attention locked outside of ourselves, clinging to the material world. When we let go of the desires for flesh and form, we transcend their entrapment. Not that enjoying flesh and form is “wrong.” It’s the attachment to them that pulls our attention away from what is real and purposeful in our relationship with God. During my entrapment in this veil, I spent vast amounts of energy trying and buying anything I could to fill the void of not being at peace. The veil of the material comes with a false promise: If we acquire enough stuff, happiness will follow. However, I could never seem to reach the bottom of my list of wants. As soon as I fulfilled one item on my list, another would magically appear.
Our attachments and desires strengthen the illusion that our needs will be filled by material objects. The veil of the material has kept the masses lost for centuries. But when we pierce this veil, we see the shallow level of truth it contains. Material objects suddenly lose their value. Releasing our animalistic desires to have, conquer, and control helps us transcend this veil.
The Veil of Sense/Body/Emotions
The veil of sense/body/emotion is penetrated by understanding that all three are, like the material, temporary. We hold the idea that we are this body, but we miss a deeper truth by doing so. The body carries us around, but only for a short time. We will cast it off when we no longer need it and reincarnate into a new one to continue the journey of discovering God. Our body, emotions, and senses are tools we use to help us on our path. Understanding how to use these as tools puts us in right relationship with them. In the right relationship, they serve a great purpose and have value.
What happens to the body while we’re in it has little to do with who and what we are. It has more to do with the lessons and path we have chosen for this incarnation. In good health, we move about freely; in bad health, we might feel trapped. When we over-identify with the body, we reduce ourselves to the limited nature of a material object. Our ego often derives its worth and sense of self from the body. The body’s senses and emotions support the idea that we are the body. They can obscure the radiance of the silence and beautiful darkness that resides within it.
The Veil of Mind
We penetrate the veil of mind by understanding that it, too, is temporary. The veil of the mind is similar to the previous two veils. We can become trapped in our mind, much like we can become trapped in our body and emotions. Again, when we derive our sense of self from the mind, we lose track of the silence within. We create a false reality and illusionary infrastructure that traps us in a never-ending maze. If we associate our identity with the thoughts that course through our mind, we reduce ourselves to its finite nature. We feed the superego that formed in our early adolescence, further deepening our attachment.
When we live solely in our minds, we are automatically out of balance. The mind, at best, is a tool to pick up and set down. By stepping back and getting into right relationship with it, the veil of the mind falls away. As wonderful as the mind can be, a richer experience is waiting for us in the silence within. The great thinkers who have graced this earth and shared their wisdom have been listeners of this silence. It’s not about pushing away or abandoning our mind; we need it just as much as we need our arms and legs. It’s about finding a healthy balance and using the mind for its intended purpose. Our mind becomes a useful tool when we pick it up when needed and put it down when it’s not. We use the thinking mind to make sense of the guidance we receive and to hold and store practical information.
The Veil of Separateness from God
We can penetrate the veil of separateness from God by moving our conscious awareness into the silence within. My time with the Ishaya monks taught me that we can deepen our awareness of stillness and remove this veil through a regular meditation practice. Eventually, I realized I am the stillness and have been nothing but stillness all along.
“We surrender all that we are not until all that remains is the truth of who we are.”
– Sava Ishaya
Releasing attachment to anything that’s temporary moves us into communion with God. There is value, of course, in our minds and our bodies and material objects, but if we associate our identity with these things or place too much importance on them, we increase the density of the first three veils and create separateness between ourselves and the Divine. When these barriers fall away, we realize there is only God.
Our Divinity is never lost; rather, we get lost in the veils obscuring our Divinity. When a tiger knows it’s a tiger, it can get on with all the things that tigers do. We have forgotten who we are in relation to God, but when we remember, nothing is hidden from the devoted seeker of truth. By exploring the beautiful darkness, self-discovery becomes a never-ending adventure with a new landscape to explore every moment. When I surrendered to the darkness, I fell into the unknown, but in this unknown, I continue to find the greatest secrets of life. When I searched for the meaning of God through the first three veils, I could not find it. By resting in the silence and savouring the beautiful darkness, I not only found what I’d been looking for; I found so much more than I realized I needed. I found sacredness and reverence for all that lives.
Hold nothing, and nothing will get a hold of you. As you continue to let go, your connection to all that IS will get clearer. It’s a paradox; the more we let go, the deeper we connect. We begin to see that all we require is within us and around us, landing at our feet. God breathes through us. The light of God continues to shine and gather in the darkness of the silence inside us all. The depth of the darkness is ours to discover. In the nothingness of the darkness, we find everything, and it is beautiful.
Tools to Deepen Your Experience of this Chapter
- What have your dark times taught you? Look to see how your times of struggle have moved you into a creative space to find solutions you didn’t know were there.
- Practice allowing space between yourself and the struggles you might be experiencing. When you become aware of a problem, set down your mind and look into the silence within. If a solution doesn’t automatically arise, keep letting go of the urge to think about it. Don’t force the process. Just wait for the answer to come to you.
- Take some time to look at the four veils. Then try to identify if you are out of balance with any of them.
- Spend twenty minutes a day in meditation with your eyes closed. During your meditation, picture a dark, quiet space in your heart center. Place all your attention on this space. Then, when you open your eyes, spend another few minutes journaling the messages you received.