I finally managed to get this blog off my iPad.

Up and down, up and down, around and around. That’s the nature of the spiritual path.

This is, for me, not only an emotional up and down, but also a paradigm up and down- I get tossed largely between Christianity and Sufism, though many wouldn’t see too much of a terrible contradiction between the two. However, with the mind of an intellectual that I have, I have a problem with overanalyzing things and worrying about orthodoxy and how things fit into one system and another.

The practice of the whole thing is also rather a bother at times- for instance, to recite the Christian rosary at one point in the day and at another point to use a mala to recite a mantra or the dhiqr seems to be contradictory.

These leads us to the problem of discovering that not every system can contain everything we need, and yes, we need to able to absorb the best from other systems into our own.

But that also doesn’t include the developments on my own that are almost entirely private in nature. What I mean to say is that there are many things that I do and understand, spiritually speaking, that relate to me and are difficult to explain to others outside of myself. It’s as though I’ve been gifted with a particular religion that belongs to me and me alone but that it parodies other religions or at least borrows some ideas from them.

That is not to say that I have consciously created this system, as I have not.

Sometimes life also indicates that I have been prepared for the longest time for the mystic’s journey.

So, let us turn now to speak of the Black Fire and how this idea relates to everything spiritual I do, for without Black Fire, no spiritual initiative would really be taking place inside of me.

The first time I can consciously remembering experiencing what I call the Black Fire was when I was 12. My sixth grade year was particularly horrible, but a huge upswing happened right at the end. Around this time I began to first become aware of the Black Fire, which is a warm, burning, full sensation that exists somewhere in the Solar Plexus region.

From time to time, I would hear music and songs that reminded me of this era, and the feeling would return, though in a dim, subconscious sort of way.

I had forgotten almost entirely about this experience until I was in 11th grade, at which time I experienced it once more, in full force, one morning while waiting for the bell to ring. The feeling of confidence and stability that it provided was wonderful, but it quickly faded, as was the habit of it.

The night I graduated high school, I had a horrible sense of having not lived up to my full potential during my high school years. Everyone else departed with memories of their friends and hanging out, everyone else had lived a great social life, and in my introspective, shy nature, I had only a few close friends whom I mostly saw at school and only sometimes went out with.

This was when the quest for the Black Fire began. The feeling reappeared one night while I was contemplating life, thinking about who I was and what I had missed out on, and how my social identity did not represent who I truly was- that I had sold myself for some kind of counterfeit personality that wasn’t how I really wanted to be and wasn’t how I wanted to really relate to other people.

Around this time was when I came upon the Actual Freedom Trust, and in some of the correspondence on the mailing list, a person used the term “Black Fire” and “Luminous Darkness.”

Imagine a thunderbolt having just hit one; this was the equivalent of the experience, because the moment I saw these words, I immediately knew what the person meant, and I searched for references to the Black Fire and Luminous Darkness. These terms both describe the experience, but Black Fire has always been my preferred terminology.

They came from Christian mysticism, oddly enough. This was a strange thing for me to have discovered, as this was an era where Christianity meant little to nothing to me other than being a thorn in my side.

But there was no question about it. The Black Fire is what the experience had been.

The Black Fire is the one thing that can determine for me reality. When it is around, there is no anxiety, no worry, no problems. I cannot say that it is always the most loving experience, but it has felt to be a sense of Longing at times. I suppose I have felt love in it, and certainly, in tandem with the Heart Chakra, the Black Fire can become a raging Fire of Love.

So, this is something of the Divine that has been in me all along, a Presence of God, which I have, for whatever reason, failed to recognize as the Immanent Divine.

To bring Bernadette Roberts up again, she speaks of something similar to this, of having been filled by this energy like a balloon early on, as early as the age of 5. This is not how it happened to me; rather, it gradually dawned inside of me, peeking out here and there.

Music often brings the Black Fire to me. Not always, but often. Thus I make it a point to listen to music and enjoy it, because I understand this is one of the ways of relating to God.

Whatever the Black Fire ultimately is, it’s quite real, and not an abstraction or a metaphor. It’s real, it’s substantial, and it’s alive. Somehow, it represents the Perfect, the Ideal, but in a way that isn’t distanced.

There are times when the Black Fire works as something of a measuring apparatus, in which I detect a greater Presence outside of myself. I know of two specific incidences where this happened. Of this I can only say it is the overshadowing of the Transcendent Divine to the Immanent Divine, and I somehow get sandwiched in between.

Hopefully, the Black Fire is a good indicator of Truth, and hopefully, it is the method by which we can work as co-creators in this world. At any rate, the Black Fire is a good thing, benevolent and not malevolent.

Another thought I have of the moment is the distinction Bernadette makes between the Self and the Divine. As many of us already know, Eastern systems hold as almost a dogma that ultimately, the Self and God are one and the same. There is no one else- there is only YOU.

This sentiment has always unnerved me, not because of guilt with the idea of identifying as God, but because it means that if you love someone, you are ultimately only loving yourself; that someone else, that wonderful OTHER, is ultimately just you being projected. This doesn’t seem to quite fit the bill of reality, and the truth be told, I would much rather be absorbed into the Other than to discover that the Other was just me all along.

So today, in having that realization, I felt a huge burden relieved from me. I don’t have to abide with that belief or paradigm any longer; I don’t have to understand myself as somehow projecting myself out onto the universe and ultimately being unable to love another. Rather, the love for the Other can always be so strong that there’s only Love and no longer any “me” to do the loving, and I rather think that is the way it should be.

Of course, that idea may bother many mystics, as it blows out of the water so much of what so many of us have held to be dear for so long. Some would argue that there isn’t any Self or Other to begin with, and that it is ultimately the Self/Other dualism that disappears. Be that as it may, wouldn’t this ultimately point to the premise that the Truth is “Other” as there would be no Self at that point? Food for thought.

Again, as I am not an enlightened person, I can only offer so much of my thoughts on the journey and give insight into what I’ve experienced up until this point; my ideas are likely subject to change upon further investigation and experience.

Back to the Black Fire. For a long time, I thought that the Black Fire had a connection to my social identity. As time progressed, it came to be more identified with the Self, and now I can see how it relates to the Divine. The rabbit hole sees one ever falling.

More later.

Beaux


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