Q. You asked me what was ‘behind’ the image I had when we were exploring what is stopping my creativity, and I said that it was darkness. But when you asked me more about the darkness, I found that it was a hard, shiny, impenetrable surface. Since it is located ’in me’ so to speak, I find it curious and a little disturbing. What could this ‘darkness’ be?
A. It is your potential.
Q. Well, how can I access it then?
A. You can take two approaches to this. One is psychological. Given its location in the lower abdomen, where many personal drives, feelings and fears are generated, you can consider that these have created a hard layer, very likely protective, to control the expression or experience of the powerhouse of the Tan Tien (to adopt a term from martial arts).
Why, is a question you need to ponder.
The good news is that it is certain that the hardness and impenetrability is a surface phenomenon, and the darkness itself is not in the least affected. Who could capture, contain or destroy the vast darkness in which the earth and all the planets swim, or the psychological unknown in which our little earth-body with its faculties is immersed? You can shine a light and darkness is dispersed, but it will surge back the instant the light is redirected.
This is the second approach. It is awareness of the whole, of the Totality of our existence on this planet, at this time, in this place. The unknowable darkness is within us, as the embryo curls round a centre of emptiness in the first stages of cell-division at our origin. We ‘contain’ this emptiness or darkness at our core, and it's a resource connecting us to the vastness of all times, all places, all being.
So recognising and encountering this kind of darkness is a meeting with potential, including our own. Whenever in the symbolism there is a wall, a block, anything preventing movement or the ability to penetrate or enter, there is one cause (though with many manifestations like the head of the Medusa). It is the sense of Me. The sense of Me-ness is a construction, either routinely compiled over a lifetime of interactions with the world, or deliberately crafted from blocks carefully chosen and placed by a master-builder, your inner mason. This would appear a more satisfactory opus, except that unfortunately, this mason is also Me.
There you have it, the human commedia, our rendezvous with 'darkness' and the unknown design of our birth. The way forward is to relinquish bit by bit the self-construction which obscures the creative up-welling, as Kipling’s mason-king, building “in the open noon of his pride”, caught a whisper of truth from the darkness and abandoned all he had wrought. As a message to all others who embark on personal palaces, he carved on every stone and timber “After me cometh a Builder. Tell him I too have known.” ¹
The line goes on, the lineage of those who hear a “word from the darkness”. Ultimately it is not fearful, but the deep source of all becoming and being, albeit a little dismantling might be needed to hear it loud and clear, and follow its command. The dark, shiny surface you perceive constitutes a mirror: when you try to look in, what do you see? The symbolism is obvious, but so is the potential. You saw the darkness in yourself; now you know it is there, and when the hard surface dissolves, there will be no barrier to knowing its essence.
Yes, a challenge, particularly for men who like to build and achieve. Frightening even, to be naked and have to jump into darkness. Fortunately another poet, also a man, understood enough to write the words:
“If I must die, I will encounter darkness as a bride
And hug it in mine arms." ²
¹ Rudyard Kipling: The Palace
² Shakespeare: Measure for Measure