07/20/2010 04:56 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Darkness: The Lap of Creation

What is everywhere? The only thing that is everywhere in existence is pure darkness. Light is a temporary happening, a burning up of something. Whether it is an oil lamp, an electric bulb or the biggest source of light that we know, the sun, all of these things are just burning up. An oil lamp may last 10 hours, an electric bulb may last over 1,000 hours, the sun may last 10 billion years, but they will all burn up. When everything burns up, what is there? Only darkness. Before the burning, it was all darkness. After the burning, it is all darkness. For light to happen, something has to be done. Darkness simply is.

Light is limited. Just with the palm of your hand, you can stop it and leave a shadow of darkness behind. The sun is the very source of life on this planet. It is of tremendous size and intensity, but regardless of this, you can still stop the flow of sunlight with your mere hands. Or for that matter, just your eyelids.

If you look up into the night sky, you will notice a lot of stars, but stars are just small specks. The vast expanse of the sky is pure darkness -- one can easily miss this. So in this boundless expanse of darkness, a little bit of light is happening here and there in the form of stars; one notices these little happenings, but not the boundless darkness. Why? Because as human beings, we are also little happenings; we are forms of existence, so we identify with other forms of existence. But the non-existence of darkness is the largest part of existence and it is the very lap of creation.

It is from the lap of darkness that all creation blossoms, or as they say, it "bangs out" from infinite nothingness or darkness. It is the time frame of your perception which differentiates a bang and a blossom. If you were to see a nuclear explosion in slow motion, you would see it as a blossoming. But in real time, in your experience, it is a bang.

Every religion, every culture on this planet, has always talked about the omnipresent, all-pervading nature of the divine. If you look at it, the only thing that can be truly all-pervading -- the only thing that can be everywhere -- is darkness or emptiness or nothingness.

So why have we always referred to the divine as "divine light" and not "divine darkness"? We celebrate light simply because our visual senses are oriented towards light. If you were to live in a forest, you would see that when the sun sets and darkness falls, a much larger activity of life commences. There is a roar through the night of insects, birds and animals. If your eyes were made like theirs, if your visual sense were made like the nocturnal animals of the forest, you wouldn't be thinking of divine light. You would be thinking of divine darkness. So your prejudice towards light is simply because of the way your survival mechanism has been crafted.

There is a railway track in India between the cities of Hassan and Mangalore. It is a very special track. In a distance of 36 kilometers, there are over 300 bridges and 100 tunnels -- many tunnels stretch over two kilometers. When we walk through the tunnel, it is pitch dark, but we will walk on the railway track without using our flashlights. "Dark" means it is absolutely dark, to the point where you cannot even see your own hand, and after some time, you don't know whether your eyes are open or closed. Bats will be flying by, but they never hit you because they don't rely upon light (they rely upon sound), but they move so close you can feel their wings. And after some time, if you just keep walking in darkness, something very wonderful will happen to you. Once you get used to it, you don't know whether your eyes are open or closed. It is just the same; it is just absolutely the same. And suddenly, you become so aware, so beautifully aware, simply because you have lost the perception of light.

If there is not even an iota of light, the outside world completely evaporates from your perception. This makes you very much aware of what you are. The individual life becomes so dominant because the outside has completely disappeared. But people will not sit quietly in darkness because they want some perception that they are still there. So whenever there is darkness, people try to whistle, talk or sing. But in darkness, if you sit for long enough, then you will start wondering whether existence is really there or not.

One of the biggest distractions in life is light. For your survival, light is extremely important, but to look beyond survival, it is a distraction. When the sun is out, you miss all the stars in the sky. Many of these stars are a thousand times bigger than the sun, but the stars get completely lost to your vision simply because the sun is flooding you with light. In the evening, when the sun goes down, you can see the stars in the sky, but in the morning, what is in the sky? It is just clear. Do you see the deception? One has always believed that light means seeing, but one sees more in darkness than in light. This is a distortion of perception.

The whole system of yoga is dedicated to enhancing one's perception, as only what you perceive is real for you. The rest is just imagination or hallucination. The very nature of light is such that it will limit your perception to the physicality of existence. It is only when you are not blinded by light that one can perceive and experience the unity of existence beyond the separateness of the physicality. Hence, human beings have a natural attraction to those aspects of life which obliterate the physical boundaries and cause a sense of union, during twilight or darkness -- essentially, in the absence of blinding light.

If someone says "I love you" at high noon, you probably wouldn't buy it. But if they say it either at twilight, moonlight or starlight, when darkness is advancing upon the day, you could easily fall for it. Naturally, the absence of light or reduced light becomes a conducive atmosphere for anything that seeks to unite life beyond the boundaries of the physical. And hence, whether it is in love, contemplation, prayer or meditation, there is a natural tendency to close one's eyes. Closing your eyes is a simple privilege that you have to shut out blinding light when it seems like an intrusion.

In the womb, you were incubated in darkness; the tomb is of course darkness. Or in other words, the beginning was darkness and the ultimate is darkness. Light is only an in-between happening. It is in the lap of darkness that all creation blossomed.


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