*Asrul Hazimin. 'Solitary'. Flickr.
Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other.
*Rainer Maire Rilke
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Obscure... from Latin, "to cover over," so to obscure is "to cover, conceal, hide."
When a little boy, we children enjoyed a game called hide-n-seek. One child would close the eyes, everyone else would hide. After an agreed upon number of counts, spoken out loud while children went fleeing for obscurity, eyes would open and the hunt for the hidden ones would begin. One statement the hunter would make was, "Come out, come out, from wherever you are!" The play of the hidden ones was to remain hidden, not coming out, not obeying the voice of the hunter.
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Regarding obscurity spiritually we can speak of this in two ways. First, "obscurity" refers to one who is solitary, sensing a calling to live mostly apart from others. This is the hermetic life. Interactions with others are limited due to a sense of calling to solitariness, not as a rejection of the world or feeling a superiority to others.
Second, obscurity can allude to the inner solitariness even amid others. This meaning, one is living from his or her heart of aloneness, an aloneness that is itself an expression of a deep, formless connection with all beings.
My writings provide more inspiration on these matters through looking into the inner dynamics of such matters, not practical details of how to. Why? Partly, the how to is not my calling, rather inspiring others to explore for themselves and providing broad guidelines and the fruition of such a path.
Of import is one living an obscure life spiritually does not mean he or she must be a solitary. However, yes, that one will need to be committed to frequent time alone and in silence. No on can tell anyone how much time apart, one must discover this for himself or herself and within the context of other responsibilities and the inspiration arising within Silence. Likewise, over time, one may sense either an inner summons for more or less time apart. As I have spoken of before, the path is not static, rather always in-change.
Last, the image of the solitary as having no contact with others or few human beings, being unmarried, not engaging in sex, not having a vehicle, not using modern technologies (i.e., computer, iphone, television ...), these, in my estimation, relate to a past not our present or future. I recall going into the Prayer House I was vowed by to live a contemplative life, and I saw a television. This shocked me, but taught me that solitary does not mean the extremes of denial that have been practiced by some hermits. Yet, the life of hiddenness, while principally an inner reality, demands decisions be made that limit what many others engage in and even indulge. One reason is modern societies are over-stimulated, and this negates the inner depth of solitude, or experience of Silence. Again, each person must work through how to relate with society while honoring the inner, hidden culture of Silence. This, while not engaging society and focusing too much on denial can easily transform solitude into a navel-gazing narcissism. The life of Silence is a life of Affirmation, and any denial is only to enhance this Affirmation. Denial in itself is not a virtue and not advantageous to the life of obscurity spiritually.
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Today, I speak of this contentment to remain hidden in a spiritual sense. And this hiddenness applies both when with others and apart from others. Soul is a more subtle expression than matter, so than body-and-mind. Spiritually we are not called, however, to be absent from matter, but to interact with matter and not lose our identity as immaterial essence. Even a solitary lives with matter, for the entire outer context is of form, including the body is matter. Solitude hallows the experience of matter as an expression of Spirit.
We are expressions of subtle Spirit. Then, it is only natural that as we become more acquainted with Silence, we will feel less and less a need to be seen, even to be known, as a form, a body, a person. With this transformation in identity, the corollary is we spontaneously relate with others from the Formless we are. The appearance of matter is only the created means for heart-with-heart communion to occur, and, now, rather than identifying others as appearances or trying to reach the Formless through form, the Formless is known arising into form, consciously, to enact communion arising from prior to form into the relationships of forms with forms, so particular beings with other beings.
So, in this obscurity the sole reason one would desire to be seen at all, is to love, which means to share with. The matter, or form, then, of the self is known as only a Sacrament of Grace. One becomes aware he or she is a vessel of Life interacting with other vessels of Life, but only one Life flows from one to the other in sacred intercourse.
When the form is no longer able to function, it simply drops. We call this death. Yet, the soul and Spirit, being timeless ~ birthless-and-deathless ~, continue, and, so, communion continues. Indeed, communion is not reliant on form, with its transiency.
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Silence teaches us, from within Itself, the freedom and joy of not needing to be seen, of obscurity. We are not an appearance, are prior to appearance. In this learning we both learn to know ourselves as unseen and others through what they think themselves to be ~ an appearance. So, by time in Silence, the absolute Unseen, this seeing through allows us to love others at a depth we could not prior, when we had identified the other as an appearance and, so, attempted to love the other as what he or she is not and cannot be. In some sense we loved an illusion.
This loving the other as what the other is, not as appearance, may seem to lack emotion. Yet, this is not a lack, only a lack from the perspective of the self. Emotion can arise in the solitariness, yet it more quickly dissolves than when one is living as form, or person. What does not quickly dissolve but abides while emotions come and go is Feeling, or the pure, quiet sense of being-Presence, or Presence-abiding-in-Itself.
This loving is more pure, heart-with-heart, for not relying on the natural sensations of affection moving between the opposites of displeasure and pleasure. Love in the personality tends to be based on like and dislike. We love someone more for that one pleases us; we love that one less, for that one displeases us. This freedom from the feelings of like-dislike is why we can refer to this as divine Love.
Divine Love is the pure clarity of absolute obscurity. Hence, the solitary models this translucent obscurity for others, reminding us the great Within is the most intimate, so the most at-home both without and within appearances. Indeed, the only reason for Spirit to take upon Itself form is to in relationship, to enjoy Itself as Being-in-Love.
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Is it okay
to be obscure
like a stream
deep in the woods
flowing clean, free
we are already obscure
what the sages call emptiness
the leaf dances with the twirling wind
the Sun sprinkles love beams on dewy grass
while birdsong adorns the sky bowing to the still Night
calling us from daylight day to the quietness of Rest
for all things are obscure
empty even of being empty
we have come from Nowhere
have Nowhere to go
we have forgotten
and Now is the time to remember
I think so
so I pray
"Give me contentment
with the emptiness I am, You are"
this is simply saying
"Who I am is no one
Could this be
a simple, beautiful recognition
of what we have lost
and can, by Grace, regain
obscurity is the emptiness
that makes it possible for me to dance
with all Creation, with Life,
to be obscure ~ even as I Am ~
simply, purely, in Love moment-by-moment
to live, to die, hidden, free,
in Grace alive with everyone
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The irony is that our emptiness, our obscurity, is the ground of our unity, or the potential of our being a particularity within fellowship with other living beings. Partness only finds it wholeness in the Whole, not in itself as apart. So, in the Wholeness the part, even when alone, cannot ever be a-part. Yet, the moment I formulate myself as a self in myself, in that moment I have cut myself off from intimacy with Creation; in that moment, I am apart, having lost touch with the Wholeness. Our being nothing in ourselves is what makes love-communion possible.
*Kamil. 'solitary'. Flickr.
The Sacred in Me bows to the Sacred in You
*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2019