~ Laurens van der Post
Naming the darkness ‘evil’ makes it so, but only in our mind. Darkness is only darkness… which is just the part of our being that is not illuminated. The part of us that is in darkness behaves in ways we little understand, so it’s very frightening to us, and we can do frightful things when we fail to account for it.
The chief darkness is our notion of free will. Science has demonstrated the numerous ways we behave that seem more like biological programming than free will. The Milgram Experiment demonstrated our urge to obey authority, and the Stanford Prison Experiment the urge to abuse our authority over others we’ve named ‘bad.’ Those urges lead to cataclysms and nightmares like the holocaust or Abu Ghraib. On the other hand, those urges have assured the survival of our species since before the time we climbed down from the trees and began walking erect. We operate largely on instinctual and unconscious levels and are only just self-aware enough to be able to deny them, and to rationalize our instinctual actions after the fact.
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
Stephen Mitchell, trans.
Once named, we tend to believe the name truly represents the the object we have named. But the name is not attached to the object. It is attached to those who bestow it. The names we create for our perceptions represent our subjective appraisal of the world. The world outside, and the world inside. We believe we are shedding light on a darkness. Instead, we are naming something we can barely see. We name the actions of make-shift prison guards ‘evil’, but without proper training, without insight into their own psychology, they were, simply, people operating blindly in the darkness.
I wonder if enlightenment isn’t primarily a matter of discarding the names and seeing things as they are, uncategorized, unnamed, unobscured by the light which shines not on the object, but onto our own eyes. I suppose that would be the equivalent of seeing in the dark, seeing into the darkness, the gateway to all understanding.