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Darkness Emerging as Light

Hi Everyone,

Instinctively we shun difficult and dark emotion in our search for happiness and wellbeing. But what if the secret to finding really dynamic, enlightened happiness was to be found within those dark emotions themselves? This weeks article explores this idea.

Yours in the spirit of darkness as light,




Article of the Week:

Darkness Emerging as Light

Often we hear the spiritual path as described in terms of light fighting against the darkness and conquering it, as if the darkness within us is something so intractably unhelpful and evil that the only constructive thing that we can do is to get rid of it or destroy it.
Consequently when we come across dark and destructive emotions in our mind, the tendency can be to shun them, try and get rid of them, repress them, and fight against them.
A closer examination however reveals that really the process of enlightening our dark emotions and impulses is more a matter of transforming and re-working their essential energy so that from their dark and chaotic core light emerges. If we gain practical experience and insight of this we realize that darkness and light are really two aspects of the same essential energy, merely appearing in different ways.
We can find a precedent for this in the Tibetan Buddhist tantric tradition, where the energy of the five core elements of existence can appear on the emotional and mental level either in their distorted form, or their liberated form.

Element – Earth, Distorted Energy – Arrogance/pride, Liberated Energy – Equanimity/balance/generosity

Element – Water, Distorted Energy – Anger/aggression/violence, Liberated Energy – Clarity/mirror wisdom/penetrating insight

Element – Fire, Distorted Energy – Possessiveness/compulsiveness/obsessiveness/consumerism, Liberated Energy – Discriminating wisdom, compassion, appropriateness
Element – Air, Distorted Energy – Envy, suspicion, jealousy, Liberated Energy – Spontaneity/ free and fluid capacity for action
Element – Space, Distorted Energy – Intentional ignorance/introversion/depression, Liberated Energy – Unrestricted intelligence/Pervasive wisdom.
So, this is not an article on Tibetan tantric Buddhism per-se, rather the point of listing the above set of correspondences is to indicate that all negative emotions are expressions of a core creative energy that has been misdirected and distorted. Therefore the way to deal with such misdirected and distorted energies is not to shun them or reject them, but rather to look deeper into them, re-work our understanding of them and re-direct their energy so that it can express itself as enlightened creative energy in our life.
You don’t have to formally be a ‘tantric’ practitioner to do this, but you do need to have the courage and will to look deeply into your emotional pain and darkness and start using your natural intelligence to re-work, re-frame and re-direct that energy in your life. You need to learn to not be afraid of the energy of powerful emotions, but rather to embrace them, recognizing that the energy that intimidates you now is in fact the very same energy that we will later experience  as the light of enlightenment. It is the same basic creative energy seen understood and experienced from a different, larger context and perspective.

So, all of this is not easy work, and it takes consistent time and dedication. If you would like an example of such a re-working from my own life and process you can read an article I wrote called “In order to find real happiness you first have to get mad as hell” which was written during a time when I was specifically re-working my own relationship to the energy of anger.


Here is a simple exercise to get started. Whenever you feel a dark negative emotion/emotional space arising in your mind, rather than running away from it, fighting with it or repressing it, try and relax and just feel your way into the “middle” or central core of that emotional vortex. Try and discover that point of stillness that lies at the heart of even the most volatile emotion. Sit there form a while, letting the emotion flow through and over you. Once you are used to this basic activity, then ask yourself the question “How can I re-direct and re-define my relationship to this dynamic and creative energy so that it is working in a liberated way in my life, rather than a distorted way?

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website