So Much is Positive in the Holy Darkness

Eckhart says, “The ground of the soul is dark.”  

Ninety-five percent of the Universe is a mystery that we call “dark matter” and “dark energy.”  Apparently our psychic life is similar.  Consider our dreams that come at night.  I often ask, “Where do dreams come from?” I recently asked a good friend of mine who wrote several powerful books on dreams: “Without using the world unconscious, tell us where dreams come from.” I think dreams come from the Universe.

“Dream” Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Scientist Rupert Sheldrake says: “At the time of the Big Bang, the Universe….was ‘a burning world of darkness,’ as the physicist Heinz Pagels put it….Through the discovery of dark matter cosmology has, as it were, recognized the existence of the cosmic unconscious….The kinds of matter and energy that we know about are floating on the surface of a vast, unknown ocean of darkness—just as the conscious mind floats on the unconscious mind.” 

In the prologue to John’s Gospel the Christ who is light comes into the world and “the darkness does not overcome it.”  Also the Christ comes at the dark time of the year, Christmas. All of these archetypes are inescapable in the Western tradition and indeed, from what I know, all spiritual traditions.

“Journey” Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

Mystics teach us that we are illuminated, or enlightened, and the light in us increases and, paradoxically so, as we go more deeply into the dark, as we sink. This Via Negativa theme of the mystics teaches that illumination often comes at the end of the bottoming out in the darkness experience. The experience of the dark night of the soul and suffering as darkness is something we do not have control over, something we can’t really name but which is big for us–the Great Mystery once again.

Our culture tries to intervene with quick remedies, whether it’s drugs or palliatives of some kind. A lot of our addictions are efforts to intervene with the darkness that’s happening. But the mystical traditions would all say there’s something deep to be learned by making the journey into the darkness.  Let darkness be darkness.

Silence is to sound as darkness is to light. In the West we tend to honor sound and light at the expense of silence and darkness. But my understanding is that the Big Bang was no bang at all, that it was utterly silent at that time, that there was no noise and, as Rupert says, no light; yet there was a burning.

Adapted from Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake, Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science, pp. 134-139.
See also See also Matthew Fox, A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey, p. 60
Banner Image: “Wave” Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Sit and enter into the darkness and silence.  Do you also experience them breaking through into light and sound?

Does the naming of the birth of the universe as a “burning world of darkness” speak to your own personal experiences?  Do you undergo at times a burning world of darkness?  What comes of that?

Recommended Reading

Biologist Rupert Sheldrake and theologian Matthew Fox show that not only is the synthesis of science and spirituality possible, it is to be celebrated when one considers the extraordinary insights they have come upon in their work. The chasm between science and religion has been a source of intellectual and spiritual tension for centuries, but in these ground breaking dialogues there is a remarkable resonance between these once opposing camps.

In A Way to God, Fox explores Merton’s pioneering work in interfaith, his essential teachings on mixing contemplation and action, and how the vision of Meister Eckhart profoundly influenced Merton in what Fox calls his Creation Spirituality journey.

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5 thoughts on “So Much is Positive in the Holy Darkness”

  1. Avatar

    From early childhood, I have been aware that several women murdered as witches had ‘asked’ to coalesce their energies into my current earth suit. In my late 40s I met a woman with whom I had lived in a coven somewhere in Europe, probably at the end of the 1400s. She was our leader and my partner. About 4 a.m. one morning the witch hunters came and dragged her out of our quarters to a pre-prepared stake and burnt her. I followed them out screaming accompanied by the others, a dozen or so of us. All along the path, lifted psychically out of and above my body, I kept telling her that this death would not kill us, that our energies had been entwined forever. In this poem, of course, I am taking her remains down from the cross.

    The Burning Times:
    An Epiphany

    When I approach your body at the stake,
    splitting the sulphured air with phoenix wings,
    it is no smell of yours that then I take
    in pewtered ash. No shape or sign that brings
    your living form within my arms. Yet live
    you must—just as when the earth’s molten crust
    crushed us together. So retroactive
    burns this love, its urn antedates all dust
    of death and destiny. Awe-full oven
    of earth, your raw pull of force and fusion
    welds and wildly weds our sacred coven
    and covenant. Forever all are one:
    lava, the flame and mythic shards, the pyre
    of bones. The central fact remains the fire.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Mary,
      The primordial fire both within and above the earth and the eternal darkness take new shape in your story and your poem.I appreciate how you conjure up the dark matter that surrounds all life and offer it as a timeless meeting place for souls. So, too, the burning of the Big Bang is present. Insider our earth, and in the fires that fuse your souls.

      Thank you for offering this story and poem to enliven the themes of his meditation.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditations Team

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