There are situations of such twisted and inexplicable darkness, and we want to know why. Why? Why now? Why ever? It would be so much simpler if we knew where to place the blame. As if blaming makes sense of it. A sick man kills and dismembers a little boy within his own community. A drunk man decides to shoot at a lightbulb and hits a baby in the head. Lightning strikes a train and dozens are killed, hundreds injured. A delusional ideologue with a political vendetta shoots down children while pretending to be a police officer coming to help.
Grotesque. Absurd. What is going on? Everyone is looking for someone to blame. Some blame it on the individual. Some blame it on his past. Some blame it on society, on X-Box. on Osama, on Obama, on… anything. As if finding someone we can comfortably blame would ease our pain. But would it? Should it?
If I could tell you who was really to blame, would it ease your pain?
In the Kabbalistic model of existence, everything that we experience in the physical reality is an extension of a spiritual reality. According to Jewish tradition, darkness came into the world when the moon was transformed from a powerful luminary like the sun to the more diminutive object we are familiar with today. The cause of this demotion was the moon’s insistence that you can’t have two luminaries in one sky. So, if you want to place blame for all your troubles and all the tragedy and darkness in the world, blame it on the moon.
When you look at the moon you can see it has guilt written all over its face – the way it keeps changing its expression, fidgeting like a criminal on the witness stand. It’s like the moon is ashamed or something. There is an entire half of the moon that we never see; it’s always facing away from us. Why is it looking away? What is it trying to hide?
But is the moon really to blame? Tidal forces exert influence on its rotation ensuring that the same side of the moon is always facing us, and the other side is always hidden. Some mistakenly call it the dark side of the moon, but really it is merely the far side, the part that was destined to be hidden, to exist in the “darkness” of the other side. But, in truth, it is dark and concealed only because of our perspective. Because perspective is everything.
Look inside a flame. Can you see its essence – the place where the flame touches the wick? No. Because the essence of the light cannot be seen. The essence of the light looks like darkness. That’s the part that touches the wick, the body and the physical world.
The Talmud calls a blind man “Sagi Nehora”, which means “too much light”. Darkness is not the absence of light. Darkness is an abundance of light that cannot be registered by our eyes – like if someone were to shine a powerful spotlight into your face: You would see nothing, and it would hurt.
There is no such thing as darkness. All of existence has to find expression. But there are elements of existence that are beyond expression, at least beyond our ability to perceive them. Darkness is light that is beyond human perception because we haven’t evolved (spiritually) to the point that we can perceive it without it burning us. So, for now, in our world we experience them as darkness and suffering. The ideal future is about becoming transformed to the point that we can see that part of the light and appreciate it as light – and it will be expressed as light, with war and jealousy and suffering and violence and tragedy becoming completely extinct from the human experience. And in that future, the moon will shine in a special way – not like the sun projecting light from its surface, but like a gemstone refracting complex orchestras of light from within through infinite prisms, expressing the dynamic and complex beauty of light after it absorbs the darkness and transforms it.
Ultimately darkness exists because it is necessary. The circumstance of the moon is a reflection of a deeper reality that is playing itself out behind the curtains. Just as the moon was destined to play the foil, set up to be blamed for the darkness that would inevitably come, so too is everything (and everyone) we try to blame for the darkness in our world. True, choices are made and so we mourn those choices, feel the pain, and place culpability for the consequences with the perpetrators of the darkness. But darkness, or the illusion of it, only exists so that we should help create the world the way it was meant to be. So that we should make it ours. And the darkness that is necessary to make us walk that path is only darkness from our perspective, because a light of that kind would be too much to handle. We could not exist in its presence.
So who is ultimately responsible for the darkness? Whoever fails to turn on the light.