The Light of the Night

Written by Mila Khyentse

Mila Khyentse is a French teacher of Tibetan Buddhism and Dzogchen and the Dzogchen Today! project initiator.

Blog | Dzogchen practice | Reflections on life | What about me?

In this article, The Light of the Night, Mila Khyentse talks about the light in the darkness, the importance of the celebrations and their connection to our mind.

Christmas

The Christian world celebrates the birth of the Christ on the night of December 24th to 25th. This is a special night for many in the West. It is also a mystical night, not only for the children who wait excitedly for the foot of the Christmas tree to be magically covered with lots of presents and the help of Old Santa, but because it leads us back to something else.

In fact, this night was long considered one of the longest of the year, located around the winter solstice. In 274 ad, the Roman emperor Aurelian, who wanted to religiously unify the Empire, chose this date which was the conjunction of the end of the traditional Roman Saturnalia celebrations and the birth day of the solar deity of the mystery cults, Mithras. He named this festival the great festival of the cult of Sol invictus, the “undefeated sun”, to show the pre-eminence of light over darkness. This date will be retained in the 4th century by the Christian world, as being the “sun of justice” of a new era.

The mystery of the depths of the night

This night is one of the darkest, most mysterious of the year. It is a real mystery that is played out here: the reminder, the remembrance or the vigilance of the light in the darkest darkness. In the past, in the European countryside, going out in the middle of the night with a lantern in hand to attend midnight mass was considered a true mystical adventure, a unique experience in the year that reminded us of our human nature.

In the tradition of the Great Perfection, this reminder of the light in the darkness is a crucial experience that we strive to live, to experience, to apprehend… when we are ready to do so.

dzogchentoday-La Lumière du Fond de la Nuit

“We are fortunate to have these reminders still present in our cultures, even though many of us no longer really remember the deeper meaning of the celebrations. They allow us, even unconsciously, to make the link with what we are deeply, even if it is only one night a year…”

The Light of the Night

When the time is right, we withdraw from the world and lock ourselves in a totally dark room, without a single ray or source of light, and spend our days and nights meditating on our nature and its true aspect: light.

After a while, in the depths of the night, the darkness itself lights up and we find ourselves projected at the foot of the illuminated tree in the darkness. This is Christmas, the “good news”: the light is in the darkness. It is the Light of the Night.

We also know, as Dzogchen practitioners, that this experience is fundamental, because it is the one we will live for the last time at the moment of our death. To recognize at that moment the light in the darkness is to contemplate our true nature; and death is no longer death.

We are fortunate to have these reminders still present in our cultures, even though many of us no longer really remember the deeper meaning of the celebrations. They allow us, even unconsciously, to make the link with what we are deeply, even if it is only one night a year…

 

So let’s enjoy one of the longest nights of the year, and certainly the brightest.

The City of My Fear

In this article “the city of my fear”, Nils talks about the way we can look at fear, and its value in revealing who we really are.

The Era of Everything and of Nothing

In “The Era of Everything and of Nothing”, Mila Khyentse talks about the process of extremes in our modern societies from the Dzogchen view.

Mister Fear-All and Mister Nothing-to-Fear

In this article “Mister Fear-All and Mister Nothing-to-Fear”, Johanne tells us a story about karmic tendances, fishes… and primordial ocean.

The Reality of the Gesture

In “The Reality of the Gesture”, the latest post in the series on gesture, Mila Khyentse talks about the real nature of gesture, of action.

I do therefore I am

In “I do therefore I am”, Damien observes how the Dzogchen view frees us from the illusion of a self fabricated by action.

The special teaching of the wise and radiant ruler

“The special teaching of the wise and radiant ruler” by Patrul Rinpoche is a new translation from the Dzogchen Today translation committee.

The dynamics of the gesture

Discover Johanne’s article on “the dynamics of the gesture” as an expression of the nature of mind… with a special dedication to Bhutan.

Why take the Path of Great Perfection ?

In “Why Take the Path of Great Perfection?” Vincent discusses the motivations that led him to embark on the Path of Great Perfection.

Cats and monkeys

In his biography of the tertön dzogchen master Jamyang Khyèntsé Wangpo, Jamgön Kongtrul compares spiritual practitioners to monkeys and cats.

The illusory dragon

In “The illusory dragon” Paul talks about the illusions of the pre-spiritual path or how the procrastination prevents from really starting.