Despite having recently experienced a delightful rest and book reading session in a sunny back garden this morning, in which the warmth of the sun was perfectly tempered by the coolness of the breeze, and I seemed to have not a care in the world, except perhaps what to have for lunch,  I had the inescapable hunch that this afternoon I would be writing more on the importance of the dark side in our educative sojourn on this planet.

And as I listen to the three string quartets of Gavin Bryars, any of which would challenge the traditional string quartet enthusiast to hear them as music at all, I can see that what we don’t like in our selves and lives can teach us, if we allow it, as much if not more, than what give us immediate pleasure.  The unpleasant, the embarrassing, the shameful, the gruesome and repulsive, the hateful and abhored: all these must be fully experienced and embraced before graduation is even possible.

For many currently on the spiritual path these detours into depravity have popped up as past lives, when we were younger souls and more easily preyed upon by chaotic fears and overwhelming desires, the thrills of instant ego gratification, callous contempt for the other, shoddy belief systems that promised much for the slavish adherent, and so on.  In many of those lives we started out with a plan that slowly got bent out of shape by the various pressures and temptations which grow like ivy around any personal growth effort.  This planet was set up to challenge us in every way possible and the polarity of positive/negative is one of the basic mechanisms encoded into the design.  For every creative effort there is a  corresponding surge to retard, every attempt at bearing light is hampered by the almost instant growth of shadows.  As we say, for every two steps forward there’s one back.  But like plants pushing their way up through cracks on the concrete we push onward toward the light, if not in one life then another.

If progress, either personal or planetary, seems slowed to a crawl, it is only our viewpoint that makes it so.  We are inhibited by our attachment to the current incarnation, which is really not much more than a chapter in a long novel.  We, even those of us who profess to accept the system of reincarnation, regularly mistake the chapter for the book.  And even those who manage to graduate to the long view, can, when comparing say, Ancient Rome to Imperial America, grow despondent at the many seeming similarities, noting that although technological progress is vast, ethical progress seems paltry, and not to put too fine a point on it, stupidity endemic.

Friends, not that much is accomplished in a lifetime, even by ambitious self-starters.  And some continue to circle around the same old addictive issues, lifetime after lifetime.  But our measure of lifetimes and what can be accomplished is based on an illusion.  We give, as a matter of course, Time, far too much respect.  The “you” which planned your current incarnation from the vantage point of spirit, existed in the same eternity as the “you” which planned your 15th century incarnation.  And depending on which level you chose to view that “you” it was

(a) an astral being partaking of paradise; (b) a mental being blissed in heaven; (c) a radiant causal body, not dissimilar to a large glowing egg shaped aura; (d) a formless being of intelligent light, a monadic extension about shift its joy into a burden,

for the “you” that we are encountering here is a many dimensional being, who can activate consciousness in any form on any level, but who has to cope with the incarnate being becoming repeatedly lost in the ego identifications and belief systems on this physical plane; – egos who are convinced they are, say, limited and enslaved, or wise and all-powerful, or condemned to work and death, or endlessly tied down with debt, or unloved and unworthy, or selflessly devoted to the betterment of humanity, or…whatever sincere conviction is currently held.

The roles we play on the light side of life enslave us as much as the dark side.  We are as attached to our altruism and goodness as the gangster is to his cutthroat cunning.  The holy are as deluded as the wicked, the sanctimonious as spellbound as the hedonists.  We are, almost all of us, totally identified with our bodies and our roles in family and society, and when we pass it can take forever, or so it would seem, to unburden ourselves of those temporary and useful illusions.  But forever has little currency in eternity.  When the hate and anger filled souls, many of whom embodied the dark selfish drives we speak of here, scuttling about impetuously in the lower astral hells which resemble earth enough to sustain the illusion, gradually divest themselves of their inhibiting drives and find their way ‘up’ to what can be called purgatory and then paradise, no tìme will have actually passed at all, and they can, if they feel ready and refreshed, return to the planet in the same time slot as you and me.

Whether they move on and up or are caught in the same patterns as before is up to them, just as it will be to us, but we should always remember the dark and the light are two haves of the same coin and cannot exist without the other.  At least on this plane.