Dark Night of the ‘Soul’(?)
If the Split Man is ready to go but doesn’t have a goal, then the ascetic has decided on a goal but doesn’t know how to get there. Sinking ever deeper into confusion, into darkness, into despair he eventually utters a cry for help. Help comes in the form of a tiny glimmer of light at the end of his dark tunnel. He grasps that light and, holding on because his life depends on it, increases that light until it becomes the bright dawn of enlightenment.
The Fasting Buddha sculpture represents the most intense phase of problem solving. Some people experience this phase as a dreadful emptiness, others, the spiritual, as ‘the dark night of the soul.’ Everyone goes through this unhappy phase to reach the joyful white or golden light that shines forth at (goal) attainment.
Many refuse to enter the dark tunnel because they fear the pain and hopelessness encountered there. But if they don’t enter the ‘dark night’ they cannot experience the attainment of the brilliant dawn of a new life and the sense of release and joy that brings.
14ft 6ins bronze is a copy of a 2ft stone sculpture carved in the 1st
century AD in what is now Pakistan. It represents the yet unenlightened
1. ‘Whatever arises, ceases.’
2. ‘Things arise subject to conditions; things cease subject to conditions.’ (all things are relative)
3. ‘The 1st condition for arising is contact (i.e. touch).’ (e.g. ‘Consciousness arises from contact.’(all things are momentary, therefore quantised).
*Note. After awakening (to wit: samma-sambodhi, whatever that means), Siddartha, the Sakyamuni, is said to have taken the name Tathagata (the meaning of the term is obscure). At no time during his 40 year career did the Sakyamuni refer to himself, nor did his followers refer to him, as ‘The Buddha’. The abstract appellation ‘the Buddha’ (to wit, ‘the man of bodhi’, originally meaning: knowledge) was the creation of a later age seeking popularity and spread. So it was that the three refuges, namely taking refuge in the Buddha, the Sangha and the Dharma, were also the creation of a later age. The Tathagata was far too smart as to have followers take refuge in a vague abstract concept rather than in a precise real function, namely the generation of perfect bodhi/knowledge. It beggars belief that Buddhist academics and learned priests of both vehicles are fully aware of the foregoing but choose to remain silent. No doubt they choose to lie so as not to ruffle the feathers of the naïve and remain popular and travel 1st class. An inscription in the Ajanta caves of about the 11th century AD refers to ‘followers of the Sakyamuni’ rather than to Buddhists.