Thoughts on Thoughts

“Yet there is a process to this extinction, a meaning to this annihilation. But this is not for the fainthearted, nor for those who want to abide in the bliss of the Self, to remain in the intimacy of union. Those who have paid the price of “fana”, who have gone beyond the illusions of the ego and watched every identity be burnt away by longing, can remain in the circle of love, living and witnessing His oneness. But there is a doorway beyond that chamber of the heart. This is the doorway of non-existence, where a cold and brutal wind blows away even the secrets of oneness. Its color is black because it has no color. This primal emptiness has a power and vastness beyond anything that is created, and it destroys everything that ever existed. It is the real home of the mystic, of the one who is “lost in the company of those who are lost in God.”  ~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee in “Fragments of a Love Story” p. 35f


Somehow, I have missed reading the works of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, a well-known teacher of Sufism and mystical topics, also billed as a Jungian theorist.  Recently, I have come across several excerpts of his writing, and they make me curious.   As I have already remarked, I have read very little of his writing, but what I do read seems to be fraught with predictions of doom and gloom, annihilation, darkness, and fear.  They seem intent on challenging the seeker, predicting dreadful ending for us all, and making it clear that he is an authority on such things.  It is true that coming to realization has the effect of bestowing a level of confidence one didn’t have before, and if the receiver of these gifts is sincere and committed to the treasure s/he seeks, it can be a natural thing, inspiring to the one who encounters it.  But I simply don’t understand the motivation to terrify the reader into jumping off a cliff of Vaughan-Lee’s creation.  It seems to me that what he says, while true, is not said in the context of what really IS, but is offered in stark contrast to what is usually unknown until one reaches the point of willingness and readiness to take the leap into the void he so loves to speak of.  Mystically speaking, it is generally understood–and it seems to me that this is true–that in God there is no such thing as time, time being a marker that we need to indicate change.  Thus, does the reader of such words understand that being–and being IN GOD–is a system of becoming and nonbecoming all at once?  What is the point of jumping up and down and saying, in effect, “Yah, yah, I’m braver than you are, you don’t know what I do…..”  like a bully on a playground, challenging and pointing the finger?  It is a mystery to me, but I do know for sure that L. Vaughan-Lee seems to preach his sermons with an intention that I am not at all sure is healthy…to him or anyone else.

I took this quote and these pictures off a Facebook page, and thank Sura Diane Sheldon for them.  Accompanying the quote were a number of WONDERFUL pictures:



As someone who tries to facilitate knowledge when I can, I would be inclined to show my student the above picture, as compared to scaring them to death with talk of voids and darkness before they can be properly understood and contexted.  Here’s another:


My point:  can we not go gently into that good night, escorted by the poets and the artists and the others who have come home to True Love, rather than doomsaying and challenging?  I suppose it’s all a matter off taste, but don’t look for that here.

I believe in the night.  It’s nothing to be afraid of.

You, darkness, of whom I am born–

I love you more than the flame

that limits the world

to the circle it illumines

and excludes all the rest.

But the dark embraces everything:

shapes and shadows, creatures and me,

people, nations–just as they are.

It lets me imagine a great presence stirring beside me.

I believe in the night.  –Rilke, Book of Hours

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Thoughts

  1. Betty Brown Hale

    Thank you, Amidha! and what an intriguing Rilke passage! Vaughan-Lee is a new name to me, so I looked around the web a bit and listened to his summing-up of an 8-year Sufi conference in 2008. Now I am wondering how the darkness passages fit with that talk, since it focused on the Way of Love, and how those eight years were serving to sound a bell of love to reverberate for America, who needs it so desperately.

    I wonder whether the conference, which it sounds like he was instrumental in calling, was the answer he was given to the darkness he was writing about….

    As always, thank you for thinking about thoughts!!!!!

    1. Hi, Betty! Vaughn-Lee is a well-known Sufi teacher and Jungian Analyst (both are terms I’ve heard applied to him, I honestly don’t know much about him) from California. Here is a recent piece of his:

      I guess I kind of made my own reaction fairly clear here, but there is not doubt that he is an excellent and provocative writer. See you soon!

  2. Amidha, sometimes we tend to look at ‘spirituality’ as if it were a man-made phenomenon – a cultural practice, perhaps, or an intellectual pursuit. But really it is a natural process – as much a ‘force of nature’ as the creation of stars, or the power of the tides, or as the birth of a child. And it comes with all the awesome power and breathtaking beauty of natural forces – as opposed to the safe, and rather anodyne quality of the experiences we create for ourselves.

    Llewellyn’s work brings this out very clearly, coming from deep experience. He didn’t have any choice about what he experienced, or how he experienced it – he just tells it as it happened to him. And what he says needs to be heard. Especially when much of what goes by the name of contemporary spirituality is concerned with promoting the message that everything is happiness and light.

    If someone wanted to become a climber, an experienced mountaineer would be concerned to explain to them the various – and considerable – dangers of climbing. Climbing is a risky pursuit, and even experienced climbers are killed or are hurt scaling the heights. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t something that they love – just that it is not all warm and fluffy. Mystics are the mountaineers of interior heights. And the stories of the world’s great mystics show that they are not afraid of climbing beyond the comfortable tree-line of a loving God, and up into the bare, stark summits that Llewellyn describes.

    Or, changing the metaphor from mountains to oceans, the great Sufi poet Saadi put it like this: “Deep in the Sea are treasures beyond compare. But if you seek safety, it is on the shore!”

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