Yet despite this, you keep your images alive and adorned. And all the time you are busy trying to find ways to prove to others and to yourselves that they are real – through your charities, through your sacrifices, through your acts of mercy and service. Aren’t all of these so-called moral actions just a search for evidence? But all of this is to no avail. The image you have constructed of yourself remains dead, it remains lifeless; there is no possibility that life can enter it.
I ask you to free yourselves from this dead weight. Let this false, dead companion go, and know and understand the one who is real. The path is not through the former but through the latter, and it is in order to avoid this latter path that you have created all your self-deceptions.
Last night I passed a field where I saw scarecrows. Sticks had been put up and dressed in shirts. On the top, as heads, were earthen pots. In the darkness the birds and the animals take them to be watchmen and are frightened away. I looked at the scarecrows and also at the people who were with me. Then I said, “Let us look within ourselves to see if we too aren’t scarecrows.” At this my companions began to laugh. But I saw that their laughter was completely false.
Everything about us has become false – our whole lives, our behavior, our laughter, our tears, everything has become false. We become exhausted carrying the weight of this falsehood. And although this falsehood is heavy, we don’t throw it off because we are even more afraid of what lies behind it. We are afraid to go in there, for the one we always thought of as ourselves is nowhere to be found. And the one whose presence we have always scorned in others is there in its full intensity. Our fear does not allow us to uncover our selves.
For the life of spiritual endeavor, meditation, fearlessness is the first condition. He who cannot dare this, cannot enter within himself. Far greater courage is needed to go into oneself than the courage required to walk along a wild, lonely, unknown path on a dark night, because as soon as a man enters himself all the sweet dreams he has cherished for so long about himself are shattered and he finds himself face to face with the ugliest and most sordid of sins – sins from which he thought he was totally free.
But he who courageously uncovers himself and moves into the dark lanes and valleys within himself, into places long abandoned, finds that he has embarked upon a new life. With this daring plunge into the darkness he embarks on a journey which ultimately leads to the attainment of light. He has been seeking it for many lives, but it has always eluded him because he dared not walk into the darkness.
Darkness has enveloped and hidden the light just like a heap of ashes hides a spark of fire. As soon as we penetrate the darkness the light is seen. That is why I say to you: if you want light, do not be afraid of the darkness. The man who is afraid of darkness will never find the light. The path to light passes through darkness. As a matter of fact, this daring to enter the darkness is itself transformed into the light within. It is through this daring that what has been so far asleep, awakes.