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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.

"The interior voyage overcomes loneliness by offering us a place in the universe, where we can know ourselves in the midst of all changes."

John Tarrant, The Light Inside the Dark, Part 2

I have always loved to think of the old navigators--the small bands moving to a new continent over land bridges made by the ice age; the Polynesian canoe masters, sailing into the vastness with a coconut shell half filled with water, observation holes drilled into it near the rim; James Cook, who rose through the ranks to command the ship Endeavour, carrying Joseph Banks to botanize through these same Pacific islands; and my own ancestors, transported in chains to the desolation of Botany Bay.

Whether or not our travels may eventually extend to the stars and those brave, hard-pressed voyages be repeated in some new form, our frontier now is the inner life. In this book, two great lineages of inward exploration are brought together. The first is the Asian tradition with its long devotion to the arts of attention and to a spiritual understanding based on inquiry and experience rather than dogma. The second is the Western method of work with the soul, with exploring the life of feeling, thought, and the stories and legends that the soul likes to tell, stories in which we trace our destiny through pain and joy, to find out what happens next.

The inward voyage and the outer both have an heroic aspect. Outer voyages make new connections by which human beings achieve many ends-- adventure, trade, conquest, and love. The inner voyage also makes new connections: it plunges us into an initiatory space, the way young boys were once thrust into the forecastle of a sailing ship; then, as the world we have known disappears, we are rocked and whirled around until the ship anchors once more in a harbor. We step ashore in a land that is not externally new but that our eyes, being changed, see in its primeval freshness. The interior voyage overcomes loneliness by offering us a place in the universe, where we can know ourselves in the midst of all changes.

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