As a kid I spent a lot of time thinking there was something wrong with me. I was totally convinced that my lowly opinion of myself was true, and there were plenty of so-called facts I could use to back up my claim. I wasn’t a happy bunny. It was only when I discovered psychology and Buddhism that I began to deconstruct the ideas that were making me miserable.
“What does not kill me makes me stronger.” – Nietzsche
Where there is light, there will be darkness, but hidden within the dark are the seeds of creation and the key to finding the light. In the last two posts we met the predator and discovered how he works in the story of Bluebeard. It’s time to get our hands dirty and jump into the viper’s nest to explore the origins of our arch-nemesis.
“What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle.” – Rumi
We’re on a quest to discover more about the murky depths of the mind and our worst enemy. In Going Dark we met the predator. Now we’ll dig a little deeper using the story of Bluebeard to learn how he operates and what we can do to overcome him.
“One does not become conscious by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – CG Jung
There’s a demonic creature that stalks us through our nightmares. He targets the innocent and the hopeful. He squats in the dark, hidden until he attacks. He wants to destroy us, to stop us from growing or knowing the truth. He wants to take our light for himself.
We’ve already explored how consciousness evolves from birth into a fully mature ego, plus some of the problems encountered on the way. To finish, we’ll look at where we can go next. Assuming all has gone well and we don’t have too many hang-ups or kinks in our development, it should be possible to evolve to higher stages of consciousness and move beyond ego into awakening.
“We are afraid to approach the fathomless and bottomless groundlessness of everything. ‘There’s nothing to be afraid of’. The ultimate reassurance, and the ultimate terror.” – R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience
Absolute Subjectivity, Pure Awareness, Suchness, No-mind, Oneness, Non-duality Consciousness, Brahman, Original Mind, Luminous Emptiness, God.
These are some of the words used to name the unspeakable at the heart of life. It’s impossible to make any positive statements concerning the nature of non-dual Awareness. It is variously described as Undifferentiated, Unborn, Unchanging, Unknowable or Unknown, Limitless, and Eternal. It is Universal, Collective, Transpersonal or Impersonal, Empty, Void, Non-being, and No-thingness.
The stage after Ego is a radical shift in the evolution of consciousness. From this moment on, you’ll never be the same again. Once you’ve tasted the open space and peace of the Witness, the ego feels even more claustrophobic.
Life has an uncanny ability to undermine your sense of self-importance and competence. No matter how hard you try, you’re never going to make sense of it. You’ll never fully know yourself and life will always surprise you. This is good, but we don’t always see it that way.
In the last post we discovered how the ego creates the shadow by rejecting anything we find unacceptable. Now we’ll look at what we can do to heal the wounds that cause us problems along the path to wholeness and awakening.
“I only know as much about myself as my mind can work out under its current conditions. And its current conditions are not good.” – Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
We don’t know who we are or what we want.
This sounds like a drastic overstatement, but most of the time it’s true. Many of our needs and instincts are unconscious. We only know what we’re conscious of or what we allow ourselves to know. Because our true needs are hidden they’re never fully satisfied, so we often feel something is missing. We’re split in two and don’t know how this sorry state of affairs happened or what to do about it.
Last time we looked at how consciousness evolves through various stages of development. In this post we’ll look at what happens when this process goes wrong.
Back to the house building metaphor: as the foundations for your character are being laid problems can arise which lead to difficulties later in life. If the support structures in your house aren’t stable, the walls will crumble around you and if you’re really unlucky, the roof will cave in.
Growing a person is a mysterious process. Most of it happens in the dark, but we have discovered certain patterns that unfold in all people in more or less the same way.
Imagine you’re building a house. This is less complicated than growing a person, but it’s a useful metaphor. We’ll leave aside the problem of the architect for now and just say the blueprint is ready for construction.