Shared by Díre at Program Study Morning – Extract from the May 2021 Newsletter
When I was in a little five-year-old body, I used to look up at the sky at night, at all the twinkling stars, and simply wonder at how tiny the earth really was. I had been told that our planet was just another twinkle in the universe, a cold pulsing heartbeat belonging to no one.
If the entire planet was just a twinkle, then how tiny and meaningless was I, a small girl who didn’t particularly want to be here? I used to whirl around until I got dizzy and intoxicated, looking at those shining diamonds pulsating on a black velvet dome above and beyond. I tried to get used to the feeling of nothingness, which is where I was taught we had come from, and to which we would return.
That feeling of nothingness haunted me. How can I have any value, if it all ends in blackness and negation? I used to close my eyes at night and imagine that eternal darkness: shutters drawn, cloudy inkiness behind my lids and semi-darkness when I opened them. I couldn’t quite imagine being nothing, when my heart and mind said, “I am something.” Eyes closed, the inkiness behind my lids exploding in a thousand swirling inner lights, I noticed that somehow I had my own world inside -independent of whether it was night or day, dark or light.
How to travel this inner world, how to understand it, how to nurture and cultivate it? I searched my entire life, frequently finding solace in the words of sages like Bhaktivinoda Thakura of Calcutta:
“Man’s life to him a problem dark,
A screen both left and right,
No soul hath come to tell us what
Lies beyond our sight.
“But then a voice, how deep and soft,
Within the heart is heard –
‘Man, man, thou art immortal soul,
Death thee can never melt.’ ”
“The inner lights of our souls cannot be extinguished by any force of nature, or even our own will,” whisper the sages,“they exist independent of the mortal coil, which we shake off at the end of a lifetime, as a tired worker shrugs off worn clothes at the end of the day.”
Oh – eternity – I belong to thee.
My heart a ball of bright
How long shall it take for me to see
That darkness is simply the absence of light?
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