The Dark Side of the Light

Several years ago a statement came to mind after having spent some time silently reflecting on my voyage through life.

I went to the dark side of the light, and there I found the truth.’

Before I begin, let me ask you – what do you fear? What scares you?

Whatever it is, go there. You will find your courage, your faith, your freedom, your destiny.

We are born, I’ve read, with only 2 fears – the fear of falling and of loud noises. Every other fear is acquired through life.

But living is acquired through fear – facing it, acknowledging it, confronting it, learning from it, transforming it. Avoiding the fear feeds the fear and kills the life.

Religion had always been a significant theme in my life. Whether running to it or away from it, I always lived relative to it.

Organized religion creates and exploits the fears that plague the mind of the believer. Fear of demons and hell; fear of pain and of pleasure; fear of death and of life; fear of Satan and God.

Through religious eyes life becomes a prison from which there is no escape. Conform, and you are ‘free’. The dogma, if believed and followed, is the only relief. The god you worship, then, is the hope of life for the chosen and the lord of death for the rest.

I went to the dark side of the light, and there I found the truth.’

The more religious I became the more I had to shun. Temptations lay like hidden mines in the field of life’s enjoyments. Sex, leisure, experimentation with consciousness – these held the promise of momentary pleasure and the consequence of lifelong pain. My natural curiosity and attraction became my burdens; living, something to avoid.

Even meditation and the burning of  incense were forbidden. As my writing mentor, Hillary Rettig, said, ‘these were the competition’ to religion. So true.

Then a light came on for me, and another was put out.

I was reading the Old Testament story of the dedication of Solomon’s Temple as described in 2 Chronicles 7. King Solomon calls for a 7 day feast to dedicate the temple to Yahweh and celebrate its completion.

It is said that 144,000 animals (22,000 cattle and 122,000 sheep) were sacrificed over the 7-day dedication.

(This in itself is disturbing – that a god would demand so much death and blood. But my mind was blinded by ‘faith’.)

Since I had already read the entire Bible twice, without much critical thought, I wanted to make the text more real to my mind so I decided to do the math.

144,000 / 7 (days) = 20,571 per day.

I paused. Over 20,000 animals were methodically slaughtered each day. By methodically I mean according to the very specific instructions given by Yahweh governing animal sacrifices. They didn’t just kill them and rip them apart hurriedly and arbitrarily. It had to be done in a specific, thoughtful manner.

20,571 / 24 (hrs) = 857 per hour.

Even if the sacrifices were carried out 24 hours a day, which they were not, the rate of 857 sacrifices each hour ON ONE ALTAR OF SACRIFICE is just not possible.

If the sacrifices were carried out, say, 12 hours a day, ON ONE ALTAR OF SACRIFICE, then you’re looking at 1,714 animals per hour.

857 / 60 (minutes) = 14 per minute = 4 per second.

1714 / 60 (minutes) = 28 per minute = 8 per second.

Imagine trying to methodically slaughter full grown cattle, each weighing about 800 – 1000 lbs, and full grown Awassi sheep, each weighing about 170 lbs, at the rate of 4 per second (which you can divide any way you like – 2 cattle, 2 sheep; 3 sheep, 1 cattle; 4 cattle; 4 sheep; whatever).

Now let your imagination go a bit further.

What about the amount of blood and entrails splattered and spread about??
Was there any cleanup between killings or was the cleanup done at the end of the day’s slaughter?
How many flies swarmed this killing field?
What about the smell of the guts and blood of 144,000 slaughtered animals in a 7 day period??

Now you can see the trouble I had with this. To believe this account as historical was simply stupid. I couldn’t do it.

My next thought was another question – if this account is not true (and I concluded it was not) then what else is not true of this Bible that I believed to be the literal, historical account of the history of God, his dealings with man, and his chosen people???

Like the walls of Jericho, the whole thing collapsed. It scattered like a house of cards in a blustery wind. Maybe not that abruptly, but it began to unravel as I asked more questions and more questions. Curiosity and thinking turned into prayerful questioning, questioning turned into more thinking and praying.

The walls of dogma were cracking along the lines of inquiry, and a bit more light streamed into the dark cave of my ‘faith’ with each fracture.

The god I once worshiped, revered and feared, loved and identified with, crumbled to the dust of an earthen image molded with dirty hands. The self I once was, and invested so much energy and time in, became a void of identity – not this, but neither that.

I drifted across a blackened sea under a starless night-sky.

A fear as cold as death gripped my bones and dried my marrow. My days were without dawn, my nights without rest. I lay in pools of icy sweat, crying for the only Father who truly loved me, who protected me, who created me from love, who loved me so much that he gave his only begotten….my god!

The Son! What about the Son!

I re-examined Jesus, the Christ. My Savior and Friend. The object of my affection surpassed only by my love for the Father.

I asked more questions. More doubts emerged.

I wanted to crawl back to the only God I knew and wanted to know to retrieve the only self I was secure with. I wanted to be born again, to sing his praises again, to enjoy the fellowship again. I wanted to go back to the Father’s house.

But I couldn’t. My thinking mind wouldn’t allow it. My unanswered questions and reasonable doubts forbade it. The intelligence I was born with now turned against its imagined Giver, and to go back was treason against the gift of myself.

But how to go forward – to what! – I had no idea. I wandered in the valley of confusion. I was buried alive in a grave marked for the dead and dying.

Was I dead? Was I dying? Was I being seduced by the darkness? Was the Satan I shook and shunned now my new master? If the God of my past held no place in my future, then what about the Devil? Was I now a part of his kingdom?

It was harder to shake off the Devil then it was to deny God of the Bible! If the God of the Bible did not exist, didn’t that play into Satan’s hand??

I was lost. I was beyond scared. My living became death.

My wife! We met at church. She was as sincere and devout as I was. More than love, our marriage was a mission for God, for Yahweh and Yahshua the Messiah. We lived for our shared faith and individual walk. We were pillars of our national community of Brethren and Believers. We were held up as the ideal family with Brooke, my step-daughter. Brooke was only about 14 or 15 at this time of doubt.

I shared with her, hesitantly, some of my questions and doubts. Sakalyah listened, witnessing my torment. She said nothing at first. Then, she offered the only counsel she could.

Pray, fight!’ she said, with the tone of 911 call. She told me she would fast and pray for me. I told her I needed it. I loved her for her devotion and her strength. I wanted her to pray me back into the fold. But I feared I was beyond saving.

I feared I would lead my family astray. I’d never want to ruin the faith of those I loved. I thought about the Brethren, some of the childhood friends who were inspired by my consistent, stable ‘faith’, and other people with whom I shared the message of ‘truth’. My god, what about them! Too much! It was too much to think about right now!

At home, I was with my family but no longer a part of them. Distance filled the space of my marriage. We grew apart with each day that passed without repentance.

I decided to take a class in ‘The Science of Mind’ taught at a nearby metaphysical community near our home in Missouri. I wanted to learn about meditation. I registered for the class. I was sure that Satan was seducing me. Still, something within me pushed me forward. Or was it backward?

I started the classes. Terror and curiosity wrestled within my mind. I went through the motions, at first. I tried to muster the same sincerity and enthusiasm I had once given to the God of my old religion. I couldn’t, at first. I tried enjoying the company of my fellow students in the class by resurrecting in my mind a congregational sense of togetherness. I couldn’t. There were no songs of praise, no Sabbath welcomes, no shouts of ‘amen!’ and ‘hallelujah!’ to punctuate a sermon….there were no sermons. I felt no kinship with the students.

I was lost, struggling to look and feel ‘found’. I wanted to belong – to something, to anything. I was a drifter with pretended smiles among strangers I did not care about.

Sakalyah grew more worrisome about my new direction. For homework assignments I had to meditate, do lit candle exercises to improve concentration, and stare at my 3rd Eye point in the mirror. She, still clinging to the ‘faith’ that I was leaving behind, did not want these things done in the house. She feared they invited dark spirits. I feared she was right.  But her attempt at prohibiting my chosen activities emboldened me. The rebel in me was now engaged.

But was it rebellion? If so, against what? Against whom? Against Sakalyah? Against God? Or for myself, my freedom???

Still, fear reigned. And our marriage was dying, adding to my affliction.

I had only one comfort – Lucretia, the teacher. She was beautiful, to my  eyes and to my soul. She laughed easily and sang when she spoke. She echoed the playfulness of my childhood memories. I needed the saving grace of genuine humanity in the midst of my spiritual torment. Lucretia, with her liberated way of being and her reassuring counsel, became that for me. She made the class enjoyable. I stayed because of her.

I learned meditation, about the Divine essence of Humanity, the Sacred Feminine, the workings of the laws of karma and of attraction, of reincarnation and the eternal soul. I learned many other new ways of seeing and being in this world. I was slowly emerging from a new womb.It was a woman, and the love of a woman, that came to my aid once again, as Sakalyah did before, and others before her beginning with my Mother. They were instrumental in guiding me from shades of dark to horizons of light. Through women I have discovered the unity of pleasure and virtue, of spirit and flesh, of fear and courage, of weakness and strength, and of darkness and light. In woman, all things become one.

Woman, Eve, the curse of Humanity according to the Genesis story of creation. If it wasn’t for Her, many believe, the world would be perfect. Her curiosity, her waywardness, her disobedience are the inheritance passed on to all women and they all have to be held in check by men, the pretentious stewards of truth….and patriarchy.

For me, women have been my saviors, my protectors, my guides to the  unfolding layers of my life. Their love, their wisdom, their sensuality are planted in my soul, grounded in memory and desire. I exist because of them, and if they are tools of the devil (not!), well then, I happily am their handiwork.

I went to the dark side of the light, and there I found the truth.’

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