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At various periods, different light has come through in our Western civilization that gave it meaning and purpose. That light has disappeared because this civilization, with its ego-centred dynamic has destroyed the light and passed the point of regeneration, just as an individual might do to the light of his or her own soul. If you don’t live the destiny of your soul, but follow the desires of your ego, you lose the light and eventually you can become a lost soul. You can’t find your way either in this world or the other world. The light that belonged to the last era is not going to come back because the era is over. Either its purpose is fulfilled or human self-absorption has ended it. If there is light, it can be transformed, but if there is no light, transformation is not an option. We are entering a time when many things will be meaningless.
One of the transitions you go through in your personal journey is the awareness of meaninglessness of your own life. The darkest experience some of us have been through is the dark night of the soul, when your spiritual life has no purpose, direction or goal. This ego-driven materialistic culture is so antithetical to real spiritual life, that for many of us it is meaningless anyway, and we have tried to create meaning by doing something more purposeful. Yet this collective darkness is not simply an absence of light—it has a dangerous energy that absorbs light. It is a living force that is uninterested in the well-being of humans or of the planet.
It has been given a “human face” by certain multi-national corporations that are only interested in their own financial profit, rather than the well-being of humanity or the environment. They have become a negative force-field. One has to be especially vigilant at this time, get used to the ways of darkness and learn how to live in darkness. This is why a spiritual group, sangha or spiritual community is so important. In itself it is a protection against darkness, much as it’s a protection against the illusions of the world. One is supported by the spiritual light of other people that forms a vessel of protection, and one needs to be attentive. Both the Sufi and Buddhist traditions make a very strong statement about the importance of the spiritual community as a protection.
This kind of darkness cannot be transformed or illuminated. You can be aware of it without confronting it. For example, one cannot fight with a multi-national corporation without incurring a huge debt. It will not evolve or change. Its inhuman energy field will absorb your energy. It could make your outer life more meaningless, which is why small acts of human kindness and human relationship that give us sustenance and meaning are so valuable. Simple acts of care and concern, acts of loving kindness that belong to the web of life, will sustain us much more than big plans, big ideas and big projects.
One needs to learn to live without expectations, to do something because it is the right thing to do. One lives the way one lives because it is the right way to live. It is in accord with one’s highest principles, with one’s relationship to the divine and the beloved. As for results, it seems there will be none, because you cannot build anything on shifting sands.
One still acts appropriately, but without concern for long-term results, or even any short term results, because there probably won’t be any. It’s not a good time to start an ambitious project unless you are Noah. Just do what Sufis do—your daily work and activities—and know things won’t get better, despite the illusion of the collective dream. Avoiding any expectations is an important ground rule for living at this time. Progress is a time-bound illusion that keeps us on a treadmill. The mystic should just live in the present for the sake of the present, and do his or her duty because that is how one lives.
The darkness doesn’t affect love, because it cannot grasp it. It is on a denser plane of vibration and it is not even interested in love. So now we have an excellent opportunity to focus on love, the axis of creation and the essence of our being. It is a time to return to love, the finest and most subtle energy that exists in creation. If you want to increase something, increase the love in your heart.
At any time of transition it is always good to return to what actually matters. Learn to bring love into your life, rather than big projects or grand ideals like saving civilization. The darkness cannot grasp love in the way it grasps and manipulates thought forms. It is drawn to power dynamics, grand or petty. It is a master of illusion. But it doesn’t even know about love.
We don’t use love to dispel the darkness—we use love for the sake of love. We bring it into the food we eat, the way we walk, the way we breathe, these simple practices of remembrance. We have an opportunity to work with love in the most ordinary ways—simple caring for others that connects us to the web of life. I think in the future those will matter more than great gestures, plans and attempts to save humanity.
We can include the Earth in our prayers and in our awareness. The great sadness of this culture results from its having cut us off from the Earth and the sacredness of creation. That is why there is this ecological devastation, the most visible result of our complete self-absorption as a culture, our selfishness and irresponsibility. If we have any duty to the whole, if there is anything we owe to creation, we should remember the world in our prayers and meditation. The world’s soul is present as part of us, crying out for our remembrance.
Some people use the word ecological sustainability in the sense of the world’s sustaining us rather than how the Earth can sustain its own sacred purpose. The deeper dimension of the ecological crisis is our cultural disregard of the sacred in creation. That is what caused the split. If we revered the sacred in creation we wouldn’t treat it the way we do. We wouldn’t defile, pollute or desecrate it as we have done. So why not go back to the root cause in our prayers and meditation? The authentic relationship between lover and beloved includes all of creation. We are part of this great love affair, this great orgasmic expression of love.
We can have a sense of humour about the darkness. Everything passes. There is an emerging archetype that belongs to the future, of infinite possibilities and a completely different way to live. Creation becomes alive again and the sacred is present in a way it has not been for many millennia. We can aspire that we will see that. And if not, well, we are together as a group of mystics, God’s personal idiots, bound together by this thread of love and remembrance. We return to the still point in the heart where there is only the beloved.
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (b.1953) is a Sufi teacher, and founder of the Golden Sufi Center. Author of many books, in recent years the focus of his writing and teaching has been on spiritual responsibility in our present time of transition, and an awakening global consciousness of oneness. See also: http://www.workingwithoneness.org/spiritual-ecology. This is an edited summary of the second of two talks given in London in January 2011. The article based on the preceding talk is found here.
- Higher Knowledge & Spiritual Experience: What to Buy? by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- How Many Sufis Are There in Islam? by Stephen Schwartz (mycaravanofdreams.com)