Sunday, July 10, 2005

To see the light, you must walk through darkness...

Shrouded by the fog, I wander along the cement and tarmac trail that leads me to an entrance way... with the turn of a key, I am invited to return to a place that inspires rest. I reflect on the evening transpired... the music still rings in my ears, and the rhythm of the night - the seething, writhing, undulating movement of musical energy moving through human bodies - returns to my mind's eye. There through the fog, I can see the people dancing, spinning, sweating, and smiling...

I feared letting go of my protective bubble of self-importance as I entered a place where the importance of the group dominated... a place where the magnificence of humankind manifested itself most notably as a collective exchange of energy moving through people like particles of matter. I felt isolated during this exchange, out of touch with the inspiration behind the movement. I felt as if there needed to be a reason to let the energy course through my viens like electricity... and that bubble burst.

Prana force, life energy, finds an outlet and moves through it... the force of nature is continuous, like the ebbing and flowing tide. So why fight it? Through this exchange, I opened channels within my body that called out for attention... they have been long silent. I dance into the darkness of my soul's closet, and I acknowledge the vulnerabilities of being human. I try them on like an outfit... sadness and confusion, fear and longing, desire and regret. Who put these clothes in here? They fit, but they don't feel like they belong to me.

I realize that these emotions do belong to me, and that I have tried them on in front of groups before... even recently, in front of groups that encourage trust, vulnerability and playfulness, a place where creativity and imagination thrive, where the child-like qualities that make us laugh, sigh, cry and wonder become fully present - this place is called a sangha, or community. It could be a community of two or twenty or two hundred... with trust, honor and respect, the sangha will thrive.

We are social creatures, and cannot help but interact with the community around us. To do otherwise would require exersion beyond our capacity. I remember now that this community of dancing orbs of energy is very similar to the other communities... in whose presence I can let down my gaurd and embrace the confusion, sadness, fear and weakness that resides in all of us. We are simple creatures experiencing together this mystery of life, much more alike than we are different. And as I walk along this dark and mysterious path, I realize, too, that there is much to be learned from the darkness.

The darkness illuminates the light, the moon reflects the sun, and each moment that we find ourselves in an empty place reminds us of how full our lives can be. Where there is darkness, light shines so radiantly that it blinds.

A student approaches a guru for guidance. The guru invites the student to sit down and tell him about his experience over a cup of tea. The guru asks the student, "What have you learned?" The student begins to speak, telling the guru of all the teachers he has learned from, and all of the schools of thought that he has studied. While the student expands on his knowlege, the guru pours tea into the student's cup. The student goes on describing his experience, and the guru continues to pour, even after the cup is full and begins to overflow. The student notices, and interrupts saying "Master, you must stop pouring. The cup is overflowing."

And the guru responds, "Come back to me when your cup is empty."