Lest the Darkness Obscure the Light

2 Jun 2015

 

Life’s but a walking shadow…

It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.


Shakespeare, Macbeth

 

The vast majority of bee life is spent in shadow, inside the hive, where only a dim light penetrates and actions depend on touch and smell. Yet the bee navigates outside the hive using sunlight. The bee lives easily with two seeming opposites: shadow and light.  Goethe realized that both darkness and light are needed to create colour. It is an easy experiment to do: mix the two and a rainbow is formed. Light alone does not produce colour, neither does darkness, a balance of the two is needed. Yet the standard analysis of colour is that it derives from light alone. The need for darkness, the very existence of darkness, is ignored. When we forget the existence of something, we fail to see when that something has grown out of balance. When darkness gets out of balance, rather than interacting with light to produce colour, we are left in a world of shadow. The Sufi philosopher, ecologist and teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, in a little book called ‘Darkening of the Light, Witnessing the End of an Era’ says:

 

We have forgotten the places of power and the sacred words. Instead we are left with a few new-age teachings, which may bring us some light but have little understanding of the forces in creation. And so we are left waiting in the gathering darkness. Slowly the light of the last age is going out. Slowly the meaning of life is being lost, until, as in Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

 

Life’s but a walking shadow…

It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

 

The light of the sacred is something fundamental to human existence: only the sacred gives real meaning to our everyday lives. And yet our rational culture has rejected it, dismissed its symbols as superstition, so that we no longer know what we have lost. And not content with polluting the outer world, we have taken our greed into the inner world, using its symbols to advertise and sell products we do not need. We have systematically prostituted the symbolic world for corporate and personal profit. Like Macbeth we are killing our king, our sacred self, for the values of the ego, for our own power and gain, not knowing what this really means until the light goes out, and we are left with only the wasteland of the inner and outer worlds.

 

It need not be so. We have it within our power to ensure that the colour does not drain from our world, that we do not mistake the grey scale of corporate marketing for the technicolour of the true world. As with so much else, the bee shows us how to balance dark and light, how to live with both in harmony. It is vital for ourselves and the world that we heed the lesson.

 

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