Going into deeper states can reach a point, and usually many points, where our own “mental picture” of God starts to seem as if it is in need of a new architecture. In fact, this is central to the journey of contemplation, for we are traveling through spaces within God and through God, and yet, as the old saying goes, it often appears that we live “without God” too. One of the gifts of the contemplative journey is the increased presence of the indwelling Spirit in our daily lives. And yet this increased presence, energy, and peace-of-mind always brings with it new challenges, new hills to climb, new valleys to explore. Sometimes we find ourselves experiencing our spirituality in a myriad of seemingly contradictory perspectives. One transition, discussed early on by Evelyn Underhill and more recently explained in detail in Ken Wilber’s The Religion of Tomorrow, is the movement from the causal world of archetypes, the very base of the time-space matrix (our world) and into an Eternity that never enters the stream of time-space, that is truly “not of this world.” As if clearing our vantage point from the mortal, we realize that we also are not mortal, but have retained a sense of an Immortal Watcher, or Witness, that is the true us, observing the phenomenology of the world.
Sounds incredibly abstract and slightly crazy, huh? Well, the process of these dark nights, from one state-stage to another, can especially become disorienting in Western religions, because they rely so much on the idea (whether done intentionally or not) of a big Grandfather in the Sky ruling us all, “the right way.” Anyone who would attack this big Grandfather must be evil, must be on the “wrong” side of things. This dynamic plays itself out in a conglomeration of ways. In state-stage development with those who use contemplative prayer and meditation, this dynamic becomes a “higher frequency” challenge in a land of “higher Light,” if such a paradigm makes sense.
We find conflicting Archetypal Deities, whether ancient Gods, Jesus of Nazareth, or pure radiances like Faith, Love, and Hope. It will certainly be hard for many of the religious to cut this archetypal cord to the Mythic Christ, as many traditional religions worship the archetype as the Final Holy Other. And while there is indeed gold divine in the Pure Names of God and the person of Jesus Christ, this perceptual angle is far from the final one. Archetypes travel with us, and we keep the baby in the them before throwing out the proverbial bathwater. Ultimately, they can become tools. As Jean Gebser puts it, “the subject of one stage becomes the tool of the next.” Archetypes become internalized as the subject transcends the relationship that came from without.
What was once a personal connection to Jesus is now also Christ walking through you, or what I like to think of the Inner Christ. And yet as the Inner Christ (the Witness?) begins the process of becoming fully integrated and the externalized archetypal connections fall further and further in abeyance, it can appear as if God has abandoned the seeker in this chaotic Void of infinitely extending black sky. This is the Dark Night as Underhill refers to it, and yet all transitions between fulcrums are dark nights. The key is to love and embrace this (sometimes) disturbing nothingness. But do we dissolve in true Emptiness and know that Jesus still “has our back?” What can develop inside, in some people’s experience (including mine), is that it is now the Christ Within that you know, love, and walk with on the journey home. In fact, the Christ Within becomes the Pure Seer in some ways, as we Witness the All.
Dualities and singularities may weave for awhile – in you, behind you – until old internal dualities have become transcended and integrated and you can now see the Emptiness everywhere, which is to say, the “Mirror-Mind is polished clean.” Yet in this Emptiness, it feels like Christ is more within us than ever, “sleeping on my breast,” as St. John of The Cross refers to him in this stage. And yes, it is here in this open area of Emptiness where we begin to find those new magic carpet rides and nocturnal ladders towards a heavenly land. Yet somehow we seem to know (not knowing how we know) that at each new higher phase, it is still the same you but more you, the same God but more God.