This article seeks to provide a deeper understanding into our automatic fear responses to the dark. The deeper perspective offered here allows us to recognize the opportunity for enhancing our spiritual relations through the unlimited potential of the dark.

Lightness and darkness remain a revolving presence in our human existence. In this case, the meaning of and relationship with light and dark can be considered from both the physical realm and the metaphysical realm. A crucial distinction here is which part of us is doing the perceiving, our human self or our higher being. These two vastly different facets of our being represent the fork in the road that determines our relationship with the light and the dark.

Our seeming innate fear of the darkness may stem from our discomfort with the greater unknown. In the reasoning of our human ego-self, the unknown appears to equal darkness which equals danger. The unknown is a constant companion in our lives. It could be said that most, well maybe all of life is really unknown. We just more easily delude our self into a sense of certainty when in the midst of a “predictable” routine.

When the unknown makes its inevitable visit, our human self tends to misinterpret this, converting it into a kind of darkness that brings a felt potentially engulfing loss of self, a death of sorts. However, by allowing our self to remain still within the dark unknown, we find the essential presence of the Sacred Infinite potential residing within the dark unknown.

In the physical realm, varying degrees of light and dark exist, a continuum ranging from total darkness to dawn to full lightness and moving into twilight on the way back into darkness. Our human self or primitive brain tends to only notice the duality, often rounding off the in-betweens into the extremes, the black and white elements of the physical realm. This all or nothing perceptual limitation tends to create an emotional rollercoaster regardless of what we perceive.

Many efforts through the ages have attempted to explain and even give spiritual meaning to our relationship with the light and dark.  Yet, from prehistoric times to our own childhoods, the initial response to the dark remains generally similar. Darkness may have felt like a curse from a distant god in prehistoric times or, more recently, a precursor to bad deeds when someone goes “over to the dark side”. Whether it was nightfall 15,000 years ago or entering a dark house in 2015, darkness seems to evoke an emotional reflex.

Is the dark dangerous, does evil lurk in the dark and do we become isolated and at risk of death when in the dark? Does the light provide an uplifting experience for us and does the light bring good to counter evil? The interpretations and meanings of light and dark, and anything we encounter really, generally stem from our human self or our higher being. Each creates vastly different meanings, generating vastly different responses.

Light generally activates a feeling of safety, providing an uplifting feeling.  “Love and Light” is a common phrase used to wish another person their best and highest wellbeing. Lightness somehow evokes a feeling of safety just because we believe we can know what’s happening and what will happen. At least we can see it, so our human self believes.

In my work as a Licensed Counselor with clients for over 30 years and my own personal life journey as well, coming to terms with the unknown includes a willingness to truly, deeply experience this unknown and the felt darkness that accompanies it. Only by immersing into the darkness, resisting the temptation to grope for some compensating form of light, can we come to find and experience the collective universal potential. This collective universal potential must exist as darkness since it sits in Graceful readiness before manifesting into form and action. Perhaps the phrase attributed to Creator, “Let there be light”, translates into let a physical realm come into being from the pure potential of the dark.    

So just how do we shift to override our initial human response to the dark unknown? Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, breath work and many other pathways to wellbeing nicely illustrate the process. These processes provide a blueprint of sorts that moves us from initial discomfort into breaking free from human self-imposed restrictions. How? You sit in non-judgment with the discomfort, be it physical or emotional or whatever the initial awareness may be. Just be with whatever “it” is while being awareness. This simple act holds immense power. Tolerating the unknown, the dark, is one of the most liberating skills we can develop. An amazing neutrality and clarity emerges. This ability to tolerate the dark unknown relaxes the fear-filled guardian, allowing us access through the door and into the all of the collective universal potential.

What is the light and dark of the intangible realm? The essential darkness exists as a foundation and springboard for the light. A new meaning for “it is darkest before the dawn” comes into awareness. While seeming to provide some consolation to the human self, we may find a deeper genuine truth to this. In some ways we must “go dark” before we can transform.

Dark and light are parts of a larger whole, and represent the heart of Sacred Cycles from seasons to sleep-wake and countless other natural cycles. If we allow our self to truly immerse into the darkness, the pre-physical realm where all exists and all is possible we actively participate in these Sacred Cycles. We gain access to ingredients necessary for effective living, allowing us to bring these into the manifesting light.

Another way to consider this source of the all that is, presents itself after we accomplish a task or goal. Our insecure by nature human self may be tempted to just hold on to the feat, basking in and promoting this achievement. However, if we search deeper and go back in time we find the point of origin for this and each accomplishment, the dark or the pre-form realm. Here we come to know that while every achievement is worthy of recognition, this single event stems from deep eternal roots residing in the universal all. Human self may just want a fish to feed on for the day but our higher being knows how to fish from the infinite eternal body of water.

Welcome to the loving beauty of the dark. Sit in the darkness, just be with the darkness and sense the constant Presence, reminding and reassuring. Feel with your being. Let yourself pass through the stages from initial anxiety to that fleeting feeling that you may cease to exist. Just stay with the darkness, connecting with the inseparable infinite-eternal and the comforting reassurance. Everything exists in connection with Creator. It is just the belief that we exist in separation that sets into motion our most detrimental ways. Tolerating the dark lets us slip the bonds of this restricting belief, enabling us to receive and interact with Creator. Feel and live the truth that reveals itself in the dark, bringing this to light.


John Burton, EdD LPC holds a Doctorate in Human Development Counseling from Vanderbilt University as well as a Masters in Clinical Psychology. He is licensed as a Professional Counselor, Counselor Supervisor and holds certificates as a NLP Master, Clinical Hypnotherapist, and Reiki Master. He currently maintains his own counseling practice with over 30 years of professional experience. He conducts regular workshops in the U.S. on The Sacred Sequence; Remembering the One Truth and on Clinical Hypnotherapy. Dr. Burton co-authored one book, Hypnotic Language; Its Structure and Use and was sole author for two other books, States of Equilibrium and Advanced Hypnotic Language published by Crown House.



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