Are you seeking paradise?
The truth may astound you because enlightenment has nothing to do with guardian angels, good shepherds or holy ghosts. While we have been turned into little lambs by organised religion, the path to the light actually means stepping into the darkness.
We live in an adolescent culture—we love rising yet fear falling. Christian mythology teaches that heaven should be the goal of a spiritual life. Even the green Earth is seen as a doubtful place where desperate acts are committed. The truth however, is that the dark places of dismay, descent and disaster are no less vital. You must die before being reborn. Rainer Maria Rilke writes:
No matter how deeply I go into myself
My God is dark, and like a webbing made
Of a hundred roots that drink in silence.
The infernal antagonist is the Devil. Otherwise known as Lucifer, Satan or Set, he must be battled and then absorbed within the human body. The idea of balance is misleading—a better word is “integration”. Carl Jung writes:
Modern man can’t see God because he doesn’t look low enough
This means that the fires of hell must be named, tamed and absorbed within the psyche. While this may seem terrifying (and it is) the result is regenesis. Meaning, there is enormous PASSION in the darkness which manifests in our survival and reproductive instincts. Death then, just wants to be part of life. In reality, they are attracted to each other like magnets.
Above: life and death feed upon each other like wolves
Shadows appear when we do not love, rejecting the parts of ourselves that we have not yet embraced. When we accept all our dark elements, our shadow is cherished and simply allowed to BE. Humans are one of the few species where integration is possible but this state is rarely achieved.
Why? Because who wants to be ripped apart by the hounds of hell? Who likes being shown their worst character traits? Who enjoys the isolation, the threats and the terror? Who wants to face the real danger of being psychologically rent and lost forever? Here we are reminded of Robert Oppenheimer’s words from the Bhagavad Gita:
I am become death, the shatterer of worlds.
Despite this, you want integration because you cannot become WHOLE without the darkness—the suppression of it simply leads to more suffering. So you must be brave, weather the storm and try not to capsize. Sadly, you cannot read this trial into being. You have to do it. Luckily, there are plenty of teachers willing to guide you over the rough seas to redemption.
Above: embrace the power of the Antichrist
Once the Devil is ACCEPTED within you, he bestows his gifts. They include perception, power and passion. You are free and have no more fear of death because it is a part of you. You are a vessel with real ballast, something capable of weathering any storm. You have more energy because you are no longer trying to deny the worst parts of yourself. You laugh more, sing more and dance more. You meet life on its own terms.
The final step then, is to acknowledge that you ARE the Antichrist—with dark desires, dangerous obsessions and heinous instincts. But you are simultaneously the Christ—demonstrating love, kindness and joy. In a reminder of the ancient wisdom of the Nile, “She who sees Set and Horus” was a favourite title of Egyptian queens.
Enlightenment then, is the alchemical marriage of the opposites—the raging passion of creation and destruction, cosmos and chaos, life and death. These deeply misunderstood lovers are really a part of each other. When we are finally rendered whole the dove returns with her gifts—peace and harmony.