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Narada and the Dark Night of the Soul

Oct 17, 1995 04:42 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker

There are some other interesting theosophical concepts found in
the philosophy of Narpoa. The following quote is again from "The
Life and Teaching of Naropa", by Herbert V. Guenther, Shambhala,

> The temptation is great to see in the reference to utter darkness just
> before the dawn of the primordial brilliant light something like that
> which Saint John of the Cross describes as 'the dark night of the soul'.

We've discussed this darkness which we leap into in order to
achieve an inner awakening. This is also said to happen when we
have an experience that shatters our worldview, that blows apart
our cherished beliefs and requires us to reevaluate our
understanding of life. But why does this happen and is it the only

> There is in this experience in Tantrism nothing of the anxiety and
> agonies associated with the dark night. If some comparison with feeling
> may be allowed, there is here a feeling of contentment and
> self-sufficiency which is almost indistinguishable from a serenity and
> peace of mind that cannot be shaken and is referred to in the texts as
> eternal delight.

If we are rooted in the spiritual, the external turbulence and
changes in our lives do not unsettle us. We are as serene,
inwardly, as a cool, clear mountain lake. The idea of a
personality with its shadow, and with negative compensatory
reactions to any change in our lives -- this does not apply to
us! We are not subject to inflation and depression, to nagging
dark doubts that come uninvited, nor to having our inner life
dependant upon external validation.

We are in a state of *delight*, where life is wonderful, even if
externally we are in painful situations. There is a state of joy
that arises from within, from our spritual practice. There is no
barrier of darkness separating us from the primordial brilliant

> After all, there is here no longer a subject or an object and
> thus there is nothing to communicate with.

This mode of consciousness is the Sambhogakaya, the state in which
a sense of subject and object has ended. It is the Buddhic
consciousness, where we have transcended the sense of personal
self created by the activity of mind, Manas.

Functioning in this mode does not require the absense of Manas,
just that *our awareness* functions in Buddhi, in the primordial

> The difference between the two viewpoints (Tantric-Buddhist and
> Christian) is therefore tremendous.

The problem probably lies in western subraces, where there is a
more pronounced sense of personal self, a tendency to
individuality and separateness that is less pronounced than in
the East.

> William S. Haas has admirable assessed this difference when
> he declares that the process of emptying consciousness:

> > does not involve the same devastating psychological effect as
> > the destruction of everything objective would necessarily produce
> > in the Western mind. For there, the radical elimination of the
> > object would dry up the very life-stream of the subject.

Our dependence upon the objective world is a barrier to inner
development. The destruction of that barrier is a devastating
psychological event to us. But we don't need that barrier, we can
exist without it, as is done in the East.

> > The philosophical idea of an Absolute or the scientific
> > construction of an objective world are congenial to the Western
> > mind.

This is our approach in the West. We use it when we approach
modern science. But regarding *our personal viewpoint*, we don't
have to follow it in our practice.

> > So likewise is any kind of relationship of the subject with
> > these conceptions such as subordination, union, identification,
> > or absorption, because any form of participation in the Absolute
> > means objectivation which is to say reality.

This tendency to objectivize things applies to the Western
approach to the spiritual, where we consider eternal deities to
submit to, seek union with, or seek absorption into.

> > In the East on the contrary the subject discovers reality in
> > theoretical and active withdrawal from every object, which in
> > turn is to say, in the dismantling of all other data and in the
> > corresponding discovery of an ever more real existence of itself
> > as consciousness.

There is an approach to the discovery of reality that involves
giving up objective data and looking at what exists apart from our
mental constructs. The activity of the mind in creating the world
has ceased, yet we perceive things -- we perceive their real

> Buddhist Tantrism even goes one step further in refusing to
> commit itself to any ontology. It does not accept the statement
> 'consciousness exists' as ultimate.

When we seek to understand the nature of Atman and Buddhi, we are
making constructs in the mind, we are functioning in Manas and not
directly understanding their nature. When we talk about these
higher principles, we are giving them an objective nature, and
thereby ceasing to function in them. As soon as we talk about the
highest principles in objective terms, we're functioning in a
state of consciousness that veils them from our awareness.

> In this respect Buddhist Tantrism endorses the words of Karl
> Jaspers:

> > Ontology purports to be a doctrine of being itself as such
> > and as a whole. In practice, however, it inevitably becomes a
> > particular knowledge of something within being, not a knowledge of
> > being itself.

Which is saying that some things are not directly knowable in
words, that mental constructs hide them from our eyes. We know
about the higher functioning of consciousness *by doing it*, and
talking about it is an activity of mind that hides the experience
from us.

-- Eldon

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