Nuggets of wisdom #1 and 2

“It is the knowing we avoid at all costs and search for at the same time. That all things are one.”

100 Ways to Sunday, Robin Rice

I decided I’m going to start featuring little snippets or “nuggets of wisdom” from this amazing book that have spoken to me as I read it and continue to re-read it. It is filled with such wonderfully vast goodness that the first time around is only the tip of the iceberg. It needs to be revisited again and again to truly savor the delicious depth of truth it offers. I’m letting my intuition decide which nugget to present, and this one piped up this afternoon and volunteered. These first two lessons are among the more difficult.

Deep within us all, we are capable of anything and everything we witness, experience, think of, and dream of in this world. Both dark and light. We are as capable of saintliness as we are of genocide. All of us. Most of us, though, would rather swim through our existence denying what our potential darkness can manifest as and only acknowledging its lesser likeness: cheating on our insurance claims or tax returns, thinking ugly thoughts of ourselves and the people around us, neglecting those we care about, indulging our tempers and hurling insults out the window of our cars as we drive down the freeway, etc. The source that fuels those actions is the same source that fuels what we categorize as much meaner and revolting actions like murder, rape, and other terrible violations of ourselves and those around us.

Before I continue, though, it’s necessary to distinguish what darkness is, because darkness is not only the most terrible things we can dream up like those actions I mention above. We assign darkness an evil connotation and only associate it with such things because we fear it. We fear it manifesting in ourselves in any way, shape, or form. So we ostracize ourselves from it and say “I would never do that – that can’t possibly come from the same place as these other things (which we happily rationalize so we can give them another title and categorize them in a lighter place).” It’s also the same reason why we fear death. There is destruction for the sake of destruction, which is a hurtful thing, and then there is destruction for the sake of rebirth, which can be a very good thing. This is the arena of the Crone, the Dark Mother. Light and dark, yin and yang, life and death, up and down – our universe is constructed on the balance of these forces and trouble will come whenever we emphasize one over the other or misunderstand them so as to only value one half of the whole. We reap as many problems from overemphasizing the light as we do when we distance ourselves from the dark. It is when we run away from understanding our darkness that we are more susceptible to its bastardized form which is destruction for the sake of destruction.

It is when we stop fleeing from our darkness that we are truly able to experience compassion. “Superiority is born in the light, leading to hate. Compassion is born in the darkness, leading to non-violence. When we allow that we are capable of darkness ourselves, compassion is our natural response.” This is not an easy lesson because most of us are so terrified of some of the things we have seen, some of the things we have experienced, and we desire nothing more than to separate ourselves from those perpetrators as much as we can. And that is an entirely understandable response. Who wants to get close to a child molester, a rapist, an abuser, a dictatorial leader who condemns half his country’s population to death? But we will never heal this world until we can understand them. We are all capable of such acts. We all possess both dark and light, in fact need both to survive. We are all One. Acts of compassion beget acts of compassion, acts of condemnation and separation beget acts of condemnation and separation.

And that is why we refuse and avoid the idea that all things are One. Because it is too much, too painful, too difficult to process that we are as capable of the atrocities we spend so much time condemning. It is too vast a notion to wrap ourselves around and understand. It is the same reason why we blame victims of rape and other violence – to distance ourselves from the fact that it could very well happen to us. In this instance, that it could very well be us. And yet, it is only when we are truly understanding of the darkness and destruction of which we are capable that we can truly choose how we act.

There is a part of us, though, that truly does understand this. In some of us, it might be easier to find than others. It is the reason why we reach out to each other. It is the tug at our heart strings when we see someone in need and feel moved to respond in some way, either with something tangible or intangible. Deep in the marrow of our being, we know that we are all One. It’s just a lot easier to reach out to some more so than others. But our healing the world around us is dependent on our understanding of this Oneness. In being One, it will be far easier to heal ourselves than if we were separate.

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