What are light spirits and dark spirits? The Babe in me would answer in a spirited fashion and without hesitation, gin and scotch! The Taoist in me however, would refrain and think about it in a more enlightened fashion.
Being a true Babe, I am just as afraid of the shadows as any other Luis Vuitton toting, lipstick-smacking Babe on the street, but the I Ching’s description of light and dark spirits are rather on the clinical side and elicit little if any fearful response within me. It does make me rather curious as to the reasoning behind the mention to begin with. Why does it matter what color the spirits are?
The answer, found in the ancient text Ta Chuan, may come as a shock and surprise.
Ta Chuan – Chapter 4
2. The union of seed and power produces all things; the escape of the soul brings about change. Through this we come to know the conditions of outgoing and returning spirits.
Richard Wilhelm’s commentary on
Bodily existence is built up by the union of “outgoing ” life streams of seed (male) with power (female). This corporal existence remains relatively constant as long as the constructive forces are in the resting state, in equilibrium. When they begin to move, disintegration sets in. The psychic element escapes— the higher part mounting upward, the lower sinking to earth; the body disintegrates.
The spiritual forces that produce the building up and the breaking down of visible existence likewise belong either to the light principle or to the dark principle. The light spirits (shen) are outgoing; they are the active spirits, which can also enter upon new incarnations . The dark spirits(kuei) return home; they are the withdrawing forces and have the task of assimilating what life has yielded.
This idea of returning and outgoing spirits by no means entails the notion of good and evil beings; it only differentiates the expanding and contracting phase of the underlying life energy. These are the ebb and flow in the great ocean of life.
What this says is that our soul’s journey, back and forth from the oneness to the reincarnated, is part of the visible and invisible reality that we know of as Reality. Since we shape our reality by our soul’s movements, we can also shape our own natures and master our own fates!