Shines within darkness

Why are we here? What is our larger purpose in life? What lies beyond the short span of years we possess with this realm… does anything? Are there gods, creators, or any other supernatural entity that oversees or coordinates our existence?

These are just a few of the questions we either have or should be asking ourselves. Our existence is defined by the journey we make, and without questioning that existence, it is a sadly linear trek. I am no spiritual expert- no adept in the field or awakened master- and claim no special power of perception beyond that which I believe we all possess. However, having said that, I have acquired a rather significant amount of experience in the school of life. I am well read, open minded to opposing views, and perceptive concerning the nature of my fellow beings.

I am writing this column not from a position of authority or superiority, but from a position of contemplation and consideration. I welcome any thoughts, comments, or criticisms. Most of what I will discuss comes to me as a result of my own spiritual development over the years. I have spent almost sixteen years “behind the wall”, as those of us incarcerated say. Despite this fact, I have managed to keep abreast of the modern community and the progress of our society through various media and most importantly the continued support of friends and family. The isolation of the years has resulted in an unusual environment for my spiritual growth to evolve. Prejudiced, disruptive, frustrating, and highly negative in nature. In addition, given my own physical build, the necessity of maintaining physical readiness is not an option but a requirement.

So how does one find themselves in such an environment? How do you overcome not only your own inner strife and complications, but also the frustration and negativity of the people around you? How can you set aside the anger of humiliation and the shallowness of your fellow men? Good questions and I’ll do my best to show you how I’ve done it.

First, I’ll give you a quick spiritual/religious background. I was raised in a relatively atheistic household until the age of seven, at which time my mother became heavily involved in the Christian church- specifically, the Pentecostal denomination. As a youth, many of the interactive events that the church provided for a young child were enjoyable, and while I have always questioned the “infallibility” aspect of the Christian Bible, I found a degree of peace in the religious trappings.

By the age of fourteen, I was highly active in youth group activities, and even contemplated a possible future in the church- perhaps as a missionary or pastor. I had also attended a Christian school for a few years at this point and my studies had revealed many holes in the modern Christian philosophy. I also possessed a healthy interest in the occult and alternative religions and philosophies- primarily because the synchronicities in the beliefs of history helped to confirm the elements I believed already. I was wise enough to keep this interest under wraps from both my parents and my fellow Christians because the close-minded mentality of people in general and monotheistic believers in particular were already an obvious factor in my life.

As time passed, less of the Christian mythos seemed to conform to common sense, and the historical aspect only seemed to confirm a high level of inaccuracy within the religion. A key linchpin finally broke me from that path completely, and though others have arisen since then, it was crucial in my transition. Over twenty years have passed, and I have made several mistakes. I have suffered numerous tragedies and few enough triumphs. However, my spiritual development has carried on, and my quest for who I am and why I am here has continued unabated. At this point, I have come full-circle from completely disregarding the reality of anygods, and believing in only higher and lower spiritual powers, to coming to the realization that the divine does indeed exist. It is only my perception of who and what the gods and powersarethat has shifted.

Reincarnation is a key component of my belief structure, and is one of the few elements of my faith that is indelible. The logical structure behind the process, which explains many of the anomalies of existence, has made it the bedrock on which I have built my beliefs. The gods and goddesses and their attendant spiritual entities are quite real to me. If you were to ask me which pantheon has it right, I could answer you easily- they all do. There are certainly false deities throughout the ages, but for the greater part, if an entity received the title and worship of a god, it probably existed in that state at some point.

Another factor, at least within my own mythos, is that all experience presents the opportunity for growth. Negative experience possesses at least as much potential as positive experience, and is in fact just as important as the positive. We require the contrast to understand the nature of the two polarities. This does not mean that we should engage in negative behavior, only that we should not avoid the negative at all cost, because it is a necessary component of our development. How we deal with such negativity is of great import. It can tear us down. It can crush us. On the other hand, it can result in the amplification of our spiritual light.

There is no light as bright as that which shines within darkness.

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  1. I’m really interested to see what you share with us in this column. The US prison system is deeply flawed, dehumanizing, and isolating, so I have a lot of admiration for anyone who manages to develop their spirituality and improve themself as a person in such an environment.

  2. You’re an inspiration, Michael, and I look forward to reading all of what you end up posting in the future!

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