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Excerpted from The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul, and the Spiritual Life  by John Tarrant. Copyright 1998 by John Tarrant. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Beneath or inside the life we lead every day is another life. This unseen life runs like a river beneath the city, beneath work, family, ambition, beneath our pleasures and griefs."

John Tarrant, The Light Inside the Dark, Part 1

The Inward Voyage

How lovely!
Through the torn paper screen,
the Milky Way.

Issa

When we were children our days were full of wonder--the world unfolded itself and ourselves at the same time. In such an eternal afternoon the grass hums, the ball flies into the blue, and the girl sings the skipping-rope song:

Cindereller dressed in yeller
went upstairs to kiss a feller;
made a mistake and kissed a snake.
How many doctors did it take?

imagining the time when she will be bitten by a life that is still being dreamed and has not yet arrived--though it is clear to her father, watching, that life is here for her now, utterly complete.

Beneath or inside the life we lead every day is another life. This unseen life runs like a river beneath the city, beneath work, family, ambition, beneath our pleasures and griefs. "There is another world," says Paul Eluard, "and it is inside this one."

In the helter-skelter, in the rush to get an education, to make a career, to make a family, to find material success, to hurry, to do, to survive, this interior life is often subjugated or paved over. The life that in the child is something vivid and whole goes further inward in the adult, where it usually slumbers until it is called forth. But this life beneath or within our ordinary life is irrepressible, unstoppable: it comes up in loveliness like jonquils out of fallen snow, it rises in supplication like hands out of gratings in a pavement in India, and it bursts upward through our chests as the fountain of shock that is our reaction to evil news. It appears in dreams, revery, memories of childhood, in what we find beautiful, and in what we find ugly as a gargoyle, and appears too when we fall in love, when we fall ill, when we are lost on dark paths. It touches our pleasures with melancholy and intermittently pierces our desperation with joy.

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