A Postscript to Darkening of the Light,
a Prelude to For Love of the Real
by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Writing the book Darkening of the Light was a way to express changes that I had seen in the inner worlds over the past decade, as our outer ecological devastation was reflected by an inner wasteland that few seem to notice. For some reason much contemporary spirituality appears unconcerned with the spiritual effects of our present ecocide, is unwilling to accept that the inner and outer worlds mirror each other, or to consider the consequences, particularly what this might mean for any possible individual or especially collective transformation. Having published this little-read book, I had hoped that I would no longer be haunted as intensely by visions of this inner darkening.
To some degree this was true, and for a while there was a certain inner peace that came from having given voice to this predicament. But the inner world did not remain completely quiet, and from time to time came knocking on the door of my consciousness. Once again I was drawn to witness the darkness, to see more than I wanted, and to consider what might be a real response. This essay is in some ways a prelude to my next book, For Love of the Real.
What is it that I see, what is it that chases me between the worlds? What is it that I hesitate to put into words, to make conscious? Between the worlds, where there used to be places of refuge and inner healing, there are no longer these temples of the imagination.(1) Much of the inner, like the outer, has been turned into a wasteland. Made desolate through our desires and greed. We have exploited and destroyed more than we know.
But this is not just an empty landscape. As anyone who has journeyed inward knows, it has its own inhabitants—from the angels that live in the worlds of light to the elemental beings that are closer to the earth. There are many different energies in the inner worlds, as shamans have long understood. What is less understood is how our acts and attitudes affect these inner forces, and how they affect us—in particular how our recent desecration has fostered their darkening.
Between the worlds, in the wasteland we have created, there are now beings bent on malevolence. Some of these energies just feed us with unnecessary desires, contributing to the illusions of consumerism, blinding us to the consequences of our actions, our patterns of behavior, the environment we are destroying. But some are darker, feeding on our hopes and dreams, turning love into desire, light into shadows. Because we have so little awareness of the inner worlds we do not see these energies, even if we sense that something is out of balance, something is destroying the harmony and beauty of the world, something is making us sick. And then there is an even greater darkness that can only be called evil: that turns young people into terrorists, visible in the bodies blown apart in the marketplace and the mosque. This is the evil of those who murder and torture and misuse the name of God.
Rightly we are shocked and sickened. And, safe in our houses and communities far from this violence, we see them as just outer actions, created by false ideologies—we do not see what is feeding them. Because we no longer believe in inner forces we do not fully understand what is happening.
We may be entranced by magic, good and evil, as found in movies and books, like the vampires and zombies that have caught our imagination, especially the imagination of young people. But because we only believe in the physical world, we have forgotten that these forces are alive, that they haunt the realms between the worlds more real than our imaginings.
What is really happening to our beautiful world, what forces have been let loose, have escaped from between the cracks? What is this dying we are witnessing without knowing why? Our politicians can only talk about economic progress, as if that is the sole factor determining our well-being. Our spiritual teachers may talk about awareness and the importance of living in the moment, and yet often appear trapped in their images of spiritual well-being. Too often they just sell another illusion that tries to bring comfort to our ravaged and weary souls. And all the while the darkness grows, fed by our forgetfulness and our loss of the sacred.
Is this what I am supposed to see, to hold in my consciousness, how this darkening feeds off the light of individuals? How it grows and devours? How little real substance there is that remains? I have already seen this, held it in my consciousness so much that it burned a hole in my own soul. But because I saw that so few were interested, so few wanted to know, I decided to turn away, to focus on what was beyond this darkening, to the light that can never be dimmed, to the sacred that can never be desecrated. Resting in the Real there isn't this drama, this loss of the light, this terror and tragedy. Here there is no polluted water, just the untouched essence of life.
And yet something calls me back, back to witness what is between the worlds, and to see how our distracted minds are taking no notice. It is not just that we as a culture have forgotten about the inner worlds—that would be too easy. We have chosen to ignore our feelings, that coldness in the back of the spine, that warning from within. We may see that the weather patterns have changed, know that there are fewer fish in the oceans, but for how many are these vital concerns?(2) And fewer still feel how this is echoed in the soul. Contemporary spirituality may speak about unity, but it rarely embraces a living whole that includes all of creation in the inner and outer worlds.
The Real is present, between every breath, in every stone and cell of the body. It is in the handshake between friends and the sweetness of a lover's kiss. Without its presence even our images of life or our dreams and hopes would fade away. But traditionally humanity has worked with what is between the worlds, with the symbols and signs that give life meaning. We fostered the names of creation, the magic that makes life dance. But here we have lost our attentiveness, our guardianship of the sacred. We have turned our attention solely towards the outer world and our own self. And without our attention the darkening began and then accelerated, as our greed attracted its shadowy reflection in the inner.
Who is left to care for the soul of the world, for the spaces where dreams used to be born? And who wants to hear what is happening, to stay with the sorrow and the desolation? And what purpose would it serve, just to witness what is happening? The book, Darkening of the Light—is about that, and I understand the reluctance, both individual and collective. It is too painful, too full of sadness. If we cannot fully face our collective outer ecocide, how will we hear the cry of the world soul, taste the tears between the worlds?
But I know that just to witness is not enough. There needs to be a link of love between the worlds to counter this darkening. Love does not judge or separate, but brings together the Creator and the creation, the One and the many. Love heals and transforms, and nourishes what has been left desolate and abandoned. Love is not about you or me, or some image of progress, but about the deepest secret of life and the joy that belongs to this secret. And love is always in service to the Beloved, to life's deepest meaning. It is what makes the world go round. Being a link of love between the worlds is to live this connection, this calling, this presence, this innermost secret.
If we are to live this link of love, this connection between the worlds, what does it mean? It doesn't seem to be enough to just hold the two—the innermost Real, the silence within the heart, and the outer world of forms, our day-to-day life. That is not enough. It means then to be aware of what is happening in our outer world as well as between the worlds. To be a space of love in this wasteland, amidst this desolation. It is here—in this space made of prayers and devotion, of longing and love—that real magic can happen. We are the place where the worlds meet, where miracles can be born. If we live attuned to what is Real, we can be a remembrance that comes alive, a promise once again made possible.
For Love of the Real: A Story of Life's Mystical Secret, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee's new book is now available, please click here for advance book details.
1. In the book, Working with Oneness, chapter 8, I explore the use of the imagination as a vehicle to access the inner symbolic world. This intermediate world is traditionally a place of spiritual refuge and healing, whether, for example, through visualization of mandalas in Tibetan Buddhism, or through Shamanic journeying.
2. Public concern about environmental issues has slumped since the 2008 financial crisis. Though hopefully Pope Francis' encyclical, Praise Be: On Care for Our Common Home, will raise our collective awareness of the spiritual element of our ecological crisis.