Day and Night (Video Script)
In ancient Egypt the rising and setting of the sun was interpreted as the resurrection and death of Ra – the Sun God. The cycle was eternal with Ra dying in the west at sunset and then proceeding to the underworld from which he was reborn the following morning at sunrise in the eastern sky – and so on, and so on … forever and ever. This daily pattern of cyclical birth and death is a useful symbol for reincarnation – of going to sleep and reawakening in a new body, much like the seasonal patterns of death and renewal in nature.
In some ancient cultures, the duality of the day/night cycle took on moral significance. The brightness and light of day was deemed good. It was a time of work and productivity. In the light, one could feel relatively safe and secure. On the other hand, the darkness of night was usually considered bad. Darkness was mysterious and dangerous. While asleep, the person was vulnerable.
With this frame of mind, it was easy to think of day and night in terms of black and white, good and evil, right and wrong – with day being positive and night being negative. Thus the symbols of day and night, light and dark, became associated with morality.
Likewise religious symbols reflected light as Godly and darkness as ungodly, or even demonic. Thus light symbolizes the original communion with the divine before the spiritual rebellion – the war in heaven between the forces of light and darkness. Darkness came to symbolize the void of division and estrangement from God. Such is the realm of polarity and dualism.
Or, if the ancient mind had a more philosophical focus, the duality was interpreted as the mind moving from darkness – or ignorance – to the light of understanding and knowledge – enlightenment. These ancient conceptualizations of day and night have carried over into modern figures of speech. For instance, we still speak of polarities of experience as being as different as night and day. Conservative religious thinkers are likely to preach about the light of God and the darkness of sin, and so forth …
Thus, historically, night and day have not been regarded as value neutral, as they are now from a strictly scientific or materialistic frame of reference. With the emergence of technology capable of widespread artificial lighting, the ancient boundary between day and night has become hazy.
Relativity of Day and Night
With the scientific understanding of the astrophysics of the earth’s rotation on its axis and orbit around the sun, our collective interpretation of day and night as symbols of consciousness began to shift.
Just as we no longer need the death and resurrection of the Sun God Ra as an explanation for day and night, philosophical and religious interpretations also began to change. With Sigmund Freud’s psychological models of consciousness, the unconscious mind – the mind associated with dreams and darkness, became much less threatening. This shift in attitude was supported by breakthroughs in the understanding of biological cycles.
Research in sleep laboratories has shown that sleep and dreams have a profound biological pattern that is part of the 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. A normal circadian rhythm provides the opportunity for both activity and rest – like breathing in and out – or the cycles of activity and rest in the seasons of nature.
A disrupted circadian rhythm is associated with sleep disorders and disease, a growing problem in our contemporary 24/7 culture. During waking consciousness traditionally associated with daytime activity, the focus is outward toward material reality. During sleep, consciousness is focused inward toward the realm of spirit – the unseen realm that can be accessed through dreams.
Or put another way, day is simply a period of conscious activity and night is a period of unconsciousness activity. Daytime conscious activity is not necessarily more spiritual than nighttime unconscious activity that can allow the soul to access spiritual realms more native to the spiritual nature of the soul. Thus the night is as valuable as the day, – or more so, to the soul.
To extend the metaphor of day and night, consider dusk and dawn as shades of gray – visually and morally – periods of transition in consciousness as the soul learns new truths that become integrated into the bright consciousness of daytime awareness.
Relativity of Truth
From the beginning, Norfolk Study Group # 1 members were challenged to consider what they believed – what was their ideal. Just as day and night can be interpreted literally and simply in terms of duality: light and dark, good and bad. So also day and night can be interpreted relatively. Day and light are not always good. Night and darkness are not always bad. It’s relative to what is needed or required.
Relativity can also be used for comparison. The darkness that surrounds a well-lit object allows the object to stand out and be more obvious. Symbolically, separation becomes more apparent in the context of darkness. When we are connected to God and others, it stands out all the more because of the contrast with the darkness of selfishness and isolation.
If we take a rigid, dualistic approach to life, to morality, to the challenges that confront us each day and night – we limit our opportunities. If we take a more relativistic approach, we enter the realm of balance and harmony, of oneness like the ying and yang of the tao. Thus the challenge of this lesson boils down to a choice of duality or oneness – how are we to approach life as a whole?
The apparent duality that we see around us is only relative and the result of our limited consciousness. If we allow ourselves to step back from the sense experience of daily life and have the awareness of the planet, spinning on its axis with its orbit around the sun, day and night take on a totally different meaning of wholeness and complementary cooperation.
If the world did not rotate on its axis as it moved around the sun, half the planet would burn up while the other side froze. The daily cycle of rotation allows for activity and rest, balance and harmony that sustain life on this planet. When we step back and see the greater picture of the human situation, we become aware that the apparent duality of light and dark, good and evil – is part of the classroom or school of the earth experience.
The Lord God is one. Duality is simply a lesson in the realm of materiality – we get to experience the apparent separation from our Source, a separation that exists only within us for as long as we choose to remain apart from fellowship in the presence of our Creator. This lesson is about duality. How we interpret and apply the lesson will depend on how we deal with the illusion of duality.
If we accept duality in a rigid, black and white manner, we will approach the circumstances of life in those terms. We will tend to see people in terms of black and white, good and evil, spiritual or carnal, and so on. We will tend to see the world as a battleground between the forces of good and evil – black and white, God and Satan dueling it out for the souls of men and women.
If we interpret the apparent duality of life as an illusion, as an artifact of limited consciousness, then we tend to see the polarities of life as complementary opposites that serve a greater purpose. The darkness of night provides a comparison for the brilliance of the noonday light. The experience of separation and isolation as individual souls provides a contrast with being connected to God and others in relationship. By valuing the contribution of both light and darkness we become more integrated as beings – able to accept and use our separate sense of self for growth and development while striving to be one with the whole.