Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dichotomy of Light and Darkness

Winter solstice, past by a mere moment now, marks the transition from darkness to light, from death to new life. Yet one more cycle in the grand order of nature has rolled its course and revolves anew, the time of renewal is at hand. While the Indians were also very aware of the peaks and transitions in the universal cycles, especially so in the ancient Vedic times, it was in the North where the extremes stated their presence.

Many of you may have been following Uma's series on the old pagan celebration of Yule, the rebirth of Mother Nature, later remodeled into a grand Christian celebration with an eerie abundance of pagan symbols and practices. While the celebration of these transitions of universal reach indeed has its place in the mesocosmic sphere, a natural turn in the human fabric of old, it is not those I write of today. I'm about to dig deeper into the superficiality of the good-evil duality often imposed on worlds of light and darkness.

The Ancient Aryan Divide

The division into good and evil is regrettably not as clear-cut as God versus Lucifer or Christ versus Antichrist, a lesson well learned from the ancient Indian evolution of religion. Vasistha was among the leading Vedic seers, while for the Zoroastrians he was among the villains. While asuras were the bad guys for the Vedic seers, Ahura-Mazda (or Asura-Maya in Sanskrit, a close relative of the Avestan language of the Parsis) was the lead monotheistic deity of the Zend-Avesta scripture.

These two polar religions came to plant the seeds of two very different religious traditions. Zoroaster was a grand-ancestor for the doctrines of a dual god and anti-god, the expectance of a messiah and a linear approach to the cosmic order. The Abrahamic tradition, or Judaism, Christianity and Islam, evolved in a mixture of Zoroastrian ideals and the ongoing evolutions in Egyptian and Middle-Eastern native polytheistic systems.

A whole different branch and orientation of religion, the greater part of which goes under the loose label of Hinduism in the contemporary world, evolved from the root of the ancestry of Vedic seers. Hinduism as we know it is a loose amalgamation of distinct traditions that evolved under shared cultural premises, a most heterogeneous compilation held together with unitarian texts such as the Bhagavad-gita.

The fact that the two religious divides forming the vast majority of the Earth's population is on a deep level divided almost as deep and fundamentally as the grand cosmic order of the ancient cultures is every bit as exciting as it is scaring. It is then little wonder that the Abrahamic dualist heritage has always sought to reform all known cultures and peoples into the faith of the one true savior, one supreme deity and one word of god, or a succession of subsequent revelations in the case of later traditions.

The Indic tradition, on the other hand, unsubscribed from an ontology that assigned them among the evil, in both its root movements. While the direct descendant of the brahmana-tradition, the heritage of the Vedic seers, maintained a sense of duality evident in the legends of the Puranas, it was against a canvas of higher, nondual ideas evolving from the old Upanishads, tense and often asystematic philosophical discourses that sought the deepest essence of the Vedic sacrifical religion. The Sramana tradition, to which the Buddhists and the Jains are the only surviving heirs, sought to eliminate the realm of duality altogether, and in doing that went so far as to do away with the supreme deity himself.

The roots of the ancient good-evil divide appear to lie in an ancient conflict tearing apart a single cultural heritage, a world where the devas and the asuras dwelled together. Mitra and Varuna, a dual deity of whom the latter is well known as an oceanic deity in the Puranic lore, are in fact among the asuras of the Rig-vedic tradition — asuras receiving oblations just as the devas did. The details of the evolution effectively reduce the concept of an absolute, primordial divide into a partition much more complicated and human, into the internal disagreements of an ancient sacrificial, fire-worshiping culture.

Powers of Light and Darkness

Neither light nor darkness possess inherent ethical value; they are neutral potentials reposed in their own nature. As darkness clouds, creates mystery and brings towards unity, light unveils, explains and exposes a vast arena of plurality prior to growing so bright as to grow all-engulfing, thereby becoming essentially one with darkness again, a field of a single, undivided nature containing all of reality in its ever-vibrant lap. (Udesidning: An ancient Nordic way of integration in darkness.)

Nothing is good or evil of its own nature; all depends on the application, and moreover the applier. Magic is neither good nor evil owing to its technical procedure of conjuration, whether born of light or darkness, white or black. The divider of good and evil is in the human choice between benevolence and malevolence, between sacrificing and feeding the egotic drive consuming its objects to grow stronger.

A transcender of duality wields light and darkness with equal might, regardless of his preference, a preference that in its fundamental essence is only a latent sensation of the past, a game or an amusement of sorts, unbinding to the player who has ascended from a participancy to entertained spectatorship. Having seen the pinnacles of light and darkness under the ancient egotic drive, one evolves into a seer of non-duality, experiencing the inherent voidness of reality as we know it.

With the diffusion of apparent essence and substance into ethereal streams, one transcends stereotypic moral assessments and dwells in a lasting perception of inherent and foundational unity, even while an adept conventionalist as needed in the common world. The art of life has now been mastered.

The Old Pagan Approach

While the philosophical sophistication of Indic traditions is often lacking in ancient native religions, they do an amicable job in the practical transcendence of duality in living in a seamless harmony with nature and gods in their own world of mythos. In fact, many ancient native traditions supersede the seclusion-seeking Indic mystics in their ability to interact with plurality in a state of active integration, perhaps with a flavor of the smooth and flowing natural Tao of the Chinese — a quality I've always been in tremendous awe of!

The action-in-knowledge tradition also found its exponents among the Buddhists with the gradual evolution of Buddhism first into Mahayana, and onwards into an admixture with the tantric tradition especially prominent in Tibet. In the Tibetan model, Hinayana and Mahayana, or the lesser and the greater vehicles, are stepping stones into the highest dimension of vajra-sattva, the lightning-strata, where one becomes a wielder of cosmic powers, conquering and subjugating the energetic release produced in the meeting of the fundamental dualities of nature, the energetic bases of archetypal male and female energy, personified as the man and the woman of the human world.

Transcending and mastering the fundamental fabric of existence, the conscious being evolves into a god-like state of integration with the flow of the cosmos, unveiling the infinite peace and inner ecstasy ever-present in the ultimate non-dual god-experience. Consciousness employs a third strata beyond light and darkness, the infinite halls of existence itself. Night turns into a day and day yet again into a night. Winter falls over the fertile summer fields, spring awakens Mother Nature to life anew. Light and darkness rise and fall time and again of their own accord; the wheel of existence revolves forevermore.

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