Seek the Light. When You Find It, Then What?

any foolToday is Saturday, December 14, 2013.

Seeking the Light has become a catchphrase for our search for Truth, or searching for  God.  We imagine that once we find this heavenly Light, everything will be wonderful.  Our problems will either disappear as if by magic, or we will miraculously be able to deal with all our issues with grace and aplomb.  From that point forward, our lives will be  much smoother sailing.  We will have more joy, more love, and more freedom.

Well, that’s part of the Truth, but not the whole Truth.  As usual, the whole enchilada eludes us, and maybe that’s for the best.  Maybe we can’t handle the Whole Truth…. yet.  Or maybe, in our physical incarnation, we are just not hardwired to see or deal with the whole picture all at once.

You’ve probably heard the story of the Zen master who achieved enlightenment.  Some students asked him what he did before he was enlightened.

“I chop wood and carry water,” he said.

“And now that you are Enlightened….?”

“I chop wood and carry water,” replied the Zen master.

light exchangeWhat?  That doesn’t sound like much fun.  What good is it to be enlightened if you can’t have a little fun?  What good is it, if you still have to work?  What is the point, if there is no change in your life?  Why strive for enlightenment if your problems don’t go away?

On the other hand, what is enlightenment, anyway?  Most people don’t really know?   And how do you know you’re enlightened?  Does it happen all at once?   For what it’s worth, here’s what I think:  Enlightenment is a journey, not a destination.  It’s a process, not a product.  It is a learning curve, not one sudden realization and you’re done.  So you learn a few things about life and you can say you’re enlightened.  And then you learn a little more and you’re a little more enlightened than you were before.  It goes on like that, I think.  And when you find the Light, or at least a piece of it, then what?  Well, as near as I can figure out, you are then supposed to BE the Light.  That’s right.  Find it.  See it.  Do it.  BE it.

There are a lot of spiritual paths in this world, but pretty much everyone who believes in some kind of Higher Power can agree that what we call Heaven is a place of Light. It’s the place where God originates.  It’s also where Souls originate.  And there’s no darkness, no evil there.  We can also pretty much agree that this physical world is, by contrast, a place where both Light and darkness exist.  It’s a place where Souls can learn from the duality that they find here.  How can we fully appreciate the Light without experiencing darkness?  How can we appreciate good without seeing what evil entails?  How can we understand how wonderful it feels to be healthy and fit if we don’t also experience what it means to be sick and in pain?  We learn from the contrast.  When we go back Home to the Inner Worlds, we will be much more appreciative of what we find there.

light shine so brightlySo why it is so important for us to Do the Light and BE the Light?   We’re here learning how to shine a Light in the darkness, and this physical world is the perfect place to do it.  We’re here to learn all about being of service to each other and to Life in general.  That’s what this is all about.

As Gautama Buddha lay dying, one of his young disciples, Anan, began to weep.  Buddha asked him why he was crying, and Anan answered, “Because the light of the world is about to be extinguished, and we will be in darkness.”

Buddha’s answer to his disciple were the last words he ever spoke:  “Anan, Anan, be a light unto yourself!” 

All true spiritual teachers have encouraged their followers to shine their own light in the darkness, even though most of us would be happy just to bask in the light of the spiritual greats.  It’s much harder to face the darkness and shine your own light.

How can we shine our own light in the darkness?  Here are some quotes by people who can give us a clue.  Don’t forget to read the quotes in the photo messages, too.

Mother TheresaMarianne Williamson, best-selling author and speaker, wrote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Mary Anne Radmascher, author of Lean Forward Into Your Life, wrote, “As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.”

But why is it so important to do this now?  Why are messages like this flying through cyberspace and permeating social media?  Why are so many people blogging about this?  For that matter, why are you reading about this topic? 

be-the-lightThe other day I read a beautiful post by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, an American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst.  (What a combination!)  The post was on a blog called The Unbounded Spirit, hosted by a man named Sofo.

Estés’ words are one of the clearest and most beautiful statements about why many of us are here in physical life at this time.  She is uniquely qualified to give this message, having worked with so many different people who are experiencing traumatic events in their lives.  You can read the whole post by clicking on the link above, but I’m going to copy a couple of quotes from the post right here.  The title of the post is, “We Were Made for  These Times.”

I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Estés urges us not to focus on what is bad about the world, and not to lose hope.  We aren’t meant to save the whole world, only to work on our tiny part of it.  We are meant to work in concert with many others who are called to a complementary task.  Estés exhorts us to remember Who We Are and Why We Came.  She reminds us that we answered a Call from a Greater Voice.  Each of us can do our part.

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

When we realize that our bodies and our personalities are simply a kind of protective clothing that we as Soul put on in order to be able to interact in this physical world, we can identify as Soul, and learn how to connect with our True Source.  Then we are qualified to bring this connection to bear on our lives in this physical plane.

Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

enlightenment1Estés speaks of us as great and powerful ships sailing on the dark seas.  At the end of her post, she gives a final reason why it is so important to be proactive instead of reactive, and why we must shine our light in the world, rather than hide from the darkness.

When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

What were you built for?  What is your mission?  What did you come here to do?  Are you accomplishing your purpose in life, or are you still hiding your Light under a bushel?  🙂

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