Go to your sacred place. Take as much time as you need, then come and sit by the fire.
I hope you feel at rest, but, sitting here like this, you might feel unsure or scared. Fragile. Exposed.
You’re in a safe place.
And remember, you made it through the darkness! Through that circuit of never-ending thoughts! You pushed that huge stone across the entrance and tore that shell of a projected self from your body. You are strong. What comes next might be difficult, but have faith.
What is it that makes you most uncomfortable here?
Is it shame?
Sometimes it’s hard to identify, and even harder to admit, but it’s usually in there somewhere. Down very deep in the core of our neuroses, our fears, our unhealthy behaviors. We have invested so much of our life energy in securing our place in the world through our projected self, that we have let our being languish in the dark. We don’t really believe that anyone would care too much for that pathetic excuse of a being atrophying down there.
Who, you wonder, who would want to see the real you anyway?
Maybe you had childhood experiences that entrenched deep seated self-hatred. You wouldn’t call it that, but you carry it around with you like a dark cloud. Maybe someone didn’t want you around. Someone who was supposed to love you and care for you—someone who could have made you feel like you were the most incredible human being ever born, but who, from their own weakness and suffering, pushed you away, treated you like a burden….
And then, of course, there was middle school.
No one escapes that unscathed.
The age when children ruthlessly arrange themselves into hierarchies. A confusing, horrible time when no one really knows what is going on and everyone is caught up in the unrelenting, biologically driven machinations of social ordering. Friendships are torn apart. Self-images destroyed. Through bloody emotional, psychological—and sometimes physical—battles, alphas emerge, triumphant and gloating, omegas, tortured or ostracized. Everyone in between scrambling to establish the best position they can for themselves, for everything seems to depend upon it. A solid percentage opt out, retreating into drug-induced oblivion. A few, tragically, take their own lives.
If this were the point of life—it’s purpose—it’s end—hanging on to the best position you can get, making sure enough people like you, or keeping enough people beneath you—whatever it takes—flattery, gossip, slander, persecution, sabotage, pretending to be someone you are not or even just hiding who you are and what you care about, would be the best possible means to achieve your end. Your dna drives you toward it, and, for many, this unreasoned, primal drive is the determining influence of their lives, manifesting itself in gross and obvious excess in some and subtle life-controlling behaviors in others. Biologically, you are wired for survival, like the wolf, for example. But you are a human being, with a consciousness so developed that you are capable of not only observing this phenomenon as it occurs in the wolf pack and how it relates to the natural experience of your own species, but you are also capable of observing that you are not bound to it in the same way as the wolf. Securing your well-being may be your natural end, but, ontologically—not just in the physical or social dimension of your being, but in the totality of it—you are aware of another end, a telos that encompasses all the dimensions of your existence. One that subjects survival to the scrutiny and priority of being, which by its nature, must be far broader and greater than mere survival.
For life is more than food and the body more than clothing; your being, far more than your position in the world. If you understand this, you understand the darkness, for all the darkness in the world arises from ignorance of this simple truth.
Stay here as long as you want. Come back as often as you can.
Go to the eighth meditation, Illuminated Being.