Into the Underworld of Tanigumi Kegonji: Part Four of Five

Read part one: On our Way to Tanigumi Kegonji

Read part two: Along the Avenue to Tanigumi Kegonji

Read part three: The Ascent Toward Tanigumi Kegonji

With monks chanting above, I descend into the depths of Tanigumi Kegonji. At the bottom of the steps we walk into the darkness along a narrow pathway cut into the stone. My right hand rests on a hand rail; my left touches the black wall of rock.

Soon the dim glow of the bulb lighting the staircase is gone. Now the blackness here in the belly of the earth is complete.

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I cannot see the fingers I wiggle in front of my face, but I can hear the footsteps of my companions, remote and distorted.

When the railing takes a turn to the right I can no longer hold it and touch the wall. I must choose.  Will it be the handrail or the stone?

I inch my way along, palming the rock face with both hands, rationalizing that the railing might end and strand me in this darkness. The solid earth won’t end—at least, probably not today. If I embrace the stone, I will find my way. Strangely, I feel no fear.

But for feet shuffling softly in the darkness, I am alone in the fifth element: Mu, the void. Astonishingly, it is not empty at all. Rather, it is palpable fullness, complete presence, all Being. Like Rilke’s Eurydice in “Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes.,” I struggle to comprehend this new awareness—a state so profound it transcends words.

Even so, I reach for words to describe it. All Time. All Existence. All Love.

Deliberately I slow my steps to prolong the experience–this will not happen twice.

Far off I hear a voice: Rinda-san, Rinda-san.

No, no, no. Oh no, don’t break this. Though I know it must, I don’t want it to end. Ever.

However, I must reassure my companions. Something splits. One part of me holds the other-worldly moment to keep it from dissipating while another answers softly: I am here. Under my breath I murmur: I am so HERE you have no idea.

After a time, something emerges ahead of me that is not black–a rectangular area of deepest charcoal. What is it?

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Image credit:

Eventual recognition stuns me. This deep gradient of gray is not part of the darkness; rather, it is the floor of the hallway ahead reflecting light. As I press forward the patch brightens. Soon I see a dark, golden glow; then the steps ascend and the meager bulb which dangles above comes into view.

I have travelled a second sacred circle today, walked the Omega path to arrive where I started: buried, resurrected, reborn.


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