“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
Mary Jane Oliver (1935-2019) was an American poet who won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize: a great inspiration to me in my formative years.
She began writing poetry at the age of 14 and was later influenced by both Whitman and Thoreau. Oliver is known for her clear and poignant observances of the natural world.
In fact, it is widely accepted that her poetry reflected a new kind of Romanticism that refused to acknowledge boundaries between nature and the observing self.
Of course, the box of darkness in Mary’s poem could have so very many meanings. The actual full poem is called The Uses of Sorrow, and is as such:
The Uses of Sorrow
(In my dream I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.Mary Oliver
Citing the great illuminist, Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), Swiss psychiatrist, influential thinker and the founder of analytical psychology, also known as Jungian psychology, it is clear that he and Mary shared the same view of “darkness”, albeit expressed in two wholly different ways.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”Carl Gustav Jung
Enter, the Darkness
When we enter into a state of meditation, we literally “go into the darkness” as we close our eyes.
That darkness is always present, yet we do not think of it until we close our eyes, and behold! There it is, just where we left it the last time.
This literal and figurative “darkness”, is, as Mary Oliver would have seen it, a “natural” aspect of the “self” and therefore of “nature”, intrinsic to our makeup as human beings.
What comes up for us in this meditative darkness can be anywhere on the scale; from utter bliss to the deepest sorrow, sadness, grief, loss or sense of betrayal still living in the heart.
Even if it is not in our consciousness, even if it is part of the collective consciousness, the meditation experience will often draw out challenging feelings.
This, so we may purge them – on behalf of ourselves or the collective – once and for all, and return to our more natural state of equanimity, peace, and ultimately bliss, which is (for most) our natural propensity – to go towards the light.
And the more we go into this meditative state and allow these deep-seated feelings to rise up in us, and ride the waves of their last stand, one after the other, so we are then able to begin to observe ourselves more and more deeply, reaching truly profound levels of awareness and “being”.
And then it becomes transcendent...
Beyond the Darkness
Beyond the darkness that rests behind our eyes, is a very different kind of darkness that we have all had to face in our lives, and indeed, are facing now on a global scale.
I came across this post in my Instagram feed just a few days before the heinous, brutal and deliberate public murder of US citizen, George Floyd, on May 25th in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by four police officers.
I was going to mention it in this Blog for very different reasons.
Suffice it to say, it gave me some hope for humanity to see that meditation programs are slowly being implemented in all facets of society, as the direct evidence, that has now become indisputable science, proves that mass meditation affects us globally – and as little as 7,000 people meditating on reducing crime, actually works. You can look up the staggering statistics yourself.
I will of course, speak more on this, but for now, I digress.
The ensuing and ongoing rightful public outcry after the George Floyd murder is deafening, not just on the outside, in the form of peaceful public protests.
It is also deafening on the inside, emotionally, spiritually, as these are dark days indeed, as we attempt to process the unthinkable – yet the undeniable.
We have indeed been handed “a box of darkness”.
“The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.”Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher.
He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors (a term coined some 13 centuries later by Niccolo Machiavelli), and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire.
The reign of Marcus Aurelius was marked by military conflict, though in the end, the Roman Empire fought successfully and ushered in an era of unprecedented peace.
Also during Aurelius’ reign, The Antonine Plague broke out in 165 or 166 and devastated the population of the Roman Empire and causing the the deaths of five million people.
Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius, or the writings of “the philosopher”, as contemporary biographers called Marcus, are a significant source of the modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy. They have been praised by fellow writers, philosophers, monarchs, and politicians centuries after his death.
“…be not like your enemy.”
Let us hope, pray, if you are the praying kind, that humanity heeds these words from an ancient wise one, and that the darkness we are all feeling from within – and without – will soon be purged, both through the practice of going within and allowing them to seep through our tears, as we usher them into oblivion – and through our PEACEFUL protests, en masse, globally.
This, so we may usher in a new, golden age of peace and enlightenment through the unstoppable and conscious ascension of Earth and its inhabitants.
We mourn George Floyd, as we mourn no other today. Though we have mourned, and mourned, and mourned too many unnecessary evils perpetrated upon the human race through time.
I cry, “NO MORE!”, from the core essence of my being… and as I close my eyes and enter into the darkness behind them in meditation, it is but the LIGHT, that awaits us all, that I seek to find.
Godspeed, George Floyd, (1972 – 2020).
You now ARE, a light for us all.
With great “Lovitude”,