The Light and Darkness Within Us.

slighest touch

 

By Yoli Ramazzina

Recently, I’ve found myself musing over the concept of light and darkness.

More specifically, the concept of light and darkness within ourselves—within every individual. One could argue that the light and darkness in each of us is constantly at battle. Then again, perhaps one has simply dominated the other, and (or) some sort of balance has been attained; kind of like Yin and Yang—the concept of duality forming a whole.

The words Yin and Yang are derived from the Chinese philosophy of Taoism. The site “Personal Tao” offers the following definition:

“The word Yin comes out to mean ‘shady side’ and Yang ‘sunny side’. Yin-Yang is the concept of duality forming a whole.”

There are several ways this concept can be interpreted—one being that there is indeed both light and darkness within all of us, which co-exist, creating a balance.

However, does this idea even make sense? Is it logical? Does the dark and light fluctuate? Or if they do exist together, achieving some sort of balance, does that mean our psyches are composed of equal parts of dark and light?

What if someone exists who is simply a horrid, awful person?

For instance, a murderer. Someone who has taken another human life. Has the darkness in that person overcome the light? Does light still exist in that person, suppressed by that person’s darkness? Or what of someone like Mother Theresa or Gandhi? Has the darkness in those individuals simply been so illuminated by their light, that their darkness never surfaces?

Essentially, no one can be a perfect person, right? We all have faults and short-comings—selfishness, hot-tempers, greed, contempt, ruthlessness.

Can these “faults” be equated to the darkness which exists within ourselves? Or is “our darkness” actually more of an abstract concept? Meaning, not simply character flaws per se, but rather the parts of us that that deem us “humans” or imperfect mortals.

What about darkness in the sense of the macabre? Why do some of us feel desire or an attraction towards things of a “dark” nature?

Is that why so many people (myself included) enjoy horror films or horror fiction? Why is there so much violence in our entertainment—be it a novel, film or video game? Why is entertainment of this nature so popular? Is this media somehow satiating an unconscious need to indulge the darkness within us?

And how is it possible that the darkness within us causes some of us to be cold-hearted, self-serving, ruthless types of individuals—the type who might even act out violently—yet, in others, the darkness is manifested as a mere horror-movie fetish, or something similar?

Is the light and darkness within us constantly at battle?

Does one ever go into a state of hibernation? Can the two truly co-exist together in a way that compliments each other? And does that existence equate to a “normal” person who is both “good” and “bad” every day?

After all, it’s not “normal” for one to be a violent, homicidal maniac. But conversely, it is also not “the norm” for a people to be so wholly kind and philanthropic, like a Gandi or Mother Theresa.

As a yogi, the light in myself recognizes and honors the light in others. But what of the darkness within myself? I suppose the light within me, should be attempting to suppress the darkness. Yet, darkness still exists within me. It is a part of what makes me who I am—a struggling, imperfect person.

Christianity interprets this inherent “darkness” as “Original Sin.” In Christianity, Jesus is the only person—albeit still God—who achieves a life of perfection, because He never sinned. That’s why he was “sacrificed” as our Savior—the one who would save us all from our inherent darkness.

According to Scripture, Jesus said:

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” {John 8:12 }

The paradox here is that without the darkness, there would be no need for the light—that saving grace, which redeems us and compensates for our short-comings. In a way, this makes it appear that Taoism and Christianity are not so far apart for each other in ideals.

Taoism  emphasizes living in harmony. The concept of Yin and Yang—our “shady side” and “sunny side” forming a whole. Christianity’s primary belief is that Jesus was the Son of God—both fully divine and fully human—and the savior of humanity.

In a way, Jesus is the embodiment of Yin and Yang. He is both the light—divine, as well as the dark—human. His humanity representing the dark in this case, as all the rest of humanity is flawed with “sin” or darkness. 

That is the struggle for most people, isn’t it?

Regardless of our religious or philosophical beliefs. It is struggle and it takes effort to “do good” or “be good” because our nature is inherently selfish or self-serving—though one might argue that is simply our “survival instinct”.

Yet, many of us do try to actively seek out the light, so to speak. To be the light—to be a kind person, in the wake of all the “bad things” that surround us: poverty, war, hate…

The darkness within us needs the light—craves it, but yet that light cannot exist without the darkness. We need both and we are both.

Together, our light and our darkness makes us whole.

 

 

 

Yoli RamazzinaYoli Ramazzina is a writer, a poet, a yogi, and a dreamer. Things that make her heart happy include: her family, the wag of her dogs’ tails, the smell of rain, good music, good beer and good friends.

Connect with her on Facebook or on Tumblr.

 

Photo: Derrick Tyson/flickr

Editor: Alicia Wozniak

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The Tattooed Buddha was founded by Buddhist author Ty Phillips and Dana Gornall. What started out as a showcase for Ty's writing, quickly turned into collaboration with creative writer, Dana Gornall and the home for sharing the voices of friends and colleagues in the writing community. The Tattooed Buddha strives to be a noncompetitive, open space for the author’s authentic voice. So while not necessarily Buddhist, we are offering a dialogue that is aware and awake to the reality of our present day to day, tackling issues of community, environment, and compassionate living.

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