On Darkness and Light

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void ... And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” -Genesis

A week ago I had the opportunity to participate in an exemplification of Albert Pike’s original 28th degree, “The Knight of the Sun, Adept.” The thrust of which concerns contrasts, light and dark, history and mystery and the importance of allegory as a way to unravel contrasts.

Light can be an allegorical word to help explain the concept of Deity, which is, by its ineffable nature, explainable. Analogies of contrast, such as darkness versus light help us reconcile the divide between reason and faith which on the surface can mutually exclude each other. Deity is essentially defined by what it is not, rather than what it is, without darkness, we could not know the light of Deity.

The concept of “light,” is interwoven throughout nearly all of Masonic ritual and allegory. We use the word “light” to refer to knowledge, information, divinity, and inspiration. Indeed the desire for light is memorably emblazoned in the heart of every Freemason, and central to our mythos. If asked what the ultimate goal of Freemasonry is in a word, it would be “light.”

Light is not only a symbol of goodness, but a measurable phenomena that brings life into the world. Light is synthesized into the energy that creates life and powers our world. Light is omnipresent even on the darkest of nights. Light encompasses and measures both distance and time, duality being part of its very composition as both a particle and a wave.

But what of the darkness? Francis Bacon is quoted: “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”And Shakespeare wrote: “The web of our life is a mingled yarn, good and ill together.” Our travels through human existence are checkered with moments of both darkness and light, good and evil.  Our collective moments of triumph are bracketed by our failures. This causes many to ask the question; if light is the wellspring of goodness, and the energy that brings life to the earth, why would darkness be so prevalent in the great design of our existence? It is difficult to reconcile this darkness as evil acts pervade the world around us throughout history.

It is exactly this contrast that defines human existence. The duality of light and dark is the core of consciousness; free will. Free will is the capacity to decide our own fate and to choose how we interact with the world around us, rather than acting on instinct alone. Free will is facilitated by the concept of choice. By having knowledge of both good and evil we are able to create our view of the world and act accordingly. This duality governs every aspect of our existence, and is unique to each individual. What is good for one, may be evil to another. What is right and just in one moment may be wrong and unfair in the next. To quote Albert Pike: “To show the light to birds of night is to conceal it from them, since it blindeth them, and is darker to them than the darkness.”

As seekers of light and goodness, it is our quest to reconcile these two opposites and transcend their dynamic tension throughout life. To create balance and harmony in oneself, one must transmute these two concepts into one synthesis of existence and acknowledge their necessity. Trust in humanity, is surrounded and safeguarded by the divine expression of the universe, in all its complexity, and held constant by one’s faith.

“You absolutely have to have dark in order to have light. If you have light on light, you have nothing. If you have dark on dark, you have nothing. You need a little sadness once and while so you know when the good times come.” -Bob Ross