Seeking the Heart of Darkness

Schindler's List (1993)

There is violence in the media. There is violence in the streets. My mind has been asking why… what is cause and what is effect? I have tried to rid my thoughts and actions of violence. I have boycotted violent films and the evening news. I have prayed for peace within and without. Yet I have come to see that I am in the realm of aversion and repression.

Is the violence in the media and in our streets from our collective repression of our fear of death and pain and suffering? In many cultures there are rituals around death and dying. Is our collective unconscious giving us the experiences we are not giving ourselves?

For weeks I thought about seeing Schindler's List (1993) yet the idea of the intense physical and psychological horrors I might see held me back. Finally I decided to create a spiritual practice. As I entered the theater I asked God (Higher Power, etc.) to use this experience for my awakening and healing around my perceptions of the body. As I watched blood spiriting out of a man's head I did not turn away. I allowed the waves of emotions to sweep over me as scores of naked human beings waited to be either showered with deadly gas or cleansing water. I cried as the acts of love and kindness amidst this vast darkness appeared like golden flowers rising from the mud. After the film I sat outside in front of a fountain. All the trials and tribulations of my life were gone. The beauty and impermanence of everything around me washed my mind.

Within this journey through the darkness there was love and hope and beauty. I also found both the darkness and the beauty inside my self. And for a moment they merged into a sort of sweet sorrow.

Now I am seeking a way not to condone yet not to abhor the violence around me. I wonder if I can use it to seek the violence in me and use its dark mud to grow the golden flowers of light.

I have noticed my own tendency to see Transpersonal films in terms of films of light and not of darkness. Yet now I can think of several films, which are clearly transpersonal odysseys through darkness. There are films which show the triumph of the human spirit through the dark horrors of existence (Schindler's List, 1993); films which take us to the horrors and madness deep inside us (Apocalypse Now, 1979); and films which take us through the darkness of our minds on our way to the light (Jacob's Ladder, 1990).

But perhaps every journey through darkness and violence can be consciously used for our own healing. And perhaps as we make this journey and face our fears, the external manifestations will dissolve into the golden lotus growing up from the dark mud.

(Originally published in Focus: The Quarterly Newsletter of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Winter, 2-3, 1994)