“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” Three rather simple, yet resoundingly profound statements packed into a short passage from Roy T. Bennett’s “The Light in the Heart.”
I’m a firm believer that each and every one of us possesses an inner light, a unique form of energy that emanates all that is good in the world, as we know it to be, that no matter what “phase” of life we are currently experiencing, this light is omnipresent, at the ready to share its brilliance and be received by others.
Where we often come up short is in allowing this radiant source of love and compassion to become obstructed. Similarly, as is the case with physical forms or objects, blockages that cloud our “inner spirit” or light come in all shapes and sizes, ranging in proportion from those of an innocuous nature to ones which are heavily based in fear, such as anxiety, doubt and jealousy. Overcoming the embedded resistance that is frequently associated with these types of responses doesn’t happen overnight. As many can attest, more often than not, it’s a life-long process.
Personally, I recall quite vividly one of the more salient occasions in which “life circumstances” obscured this inner light so profoundly that it consumed my every thought and action. A bond of trust had been broken, creating a void that would eventually take years to refill. Windowless walls were hastily assembled; thus beginning a pattern of impediments, allowing little or no light to prevail. It’s probably safe to assume that many of us have been down this road at one time or another. Spiritual and motivational speaker Brené Brown shares some of her personal insight when she rightfully exclaims: “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Of course many, if not all, of these obstructions are based in our merciless connection to ego. Due to its toxic nature, ego thrives upon adverse conditions. Because we’ve allowed it to fester from an early age, the ego maintains its sustenance through every failed attempt at extraction. Setting up seemingly impermeable roadblocks along our path is a key component to the ego’s survival. That we should question its validity is in and of itself an almost perverse motivation to continue its relentless grasp.
Clearing away the “debris” that impedes our core source of illumination is essential, if we are to evolve. While enduring one of those larger-than-life struggles in my mid-30s, I relied heavily upon the support from close friends, family and the guidance of some key spiritualists more times than I can remember. Yet I gleaned an incredible amount of clarity and insight simply through observing the actions of a personal mentor, who at the time was processing some very difficult issues of her own. Rather than shutting down or turning inward (either of which would have been a “normal” or predictable response for anyone in her shoes), she instead chose that moment of personal crisis to “amplify” her inner light, taking it to a new level.
What transpired was a commitment to increase the attention given to those who’d been marginalized around the world, due to no fault of their own. Providing wheelchairs for the physically disabled in rural, remote villages and combating long-standing tribal practices that debase women were specific global issues that resonated for her, therefore requiring immediate, actionable focus. From a distance, it would appear as if she was running away, when in fact, it was the complete opposite.
In his book “Lessons of the Lotus,” Buddhist monk Bhante Wimala expresses the need for us to embrace self-acceptance as an important first step in dealing with the curveballs thrown our way. He states “as we struggle to cope with the many issues of daily living, it is easy to feel disappointed, disillusioned, and even angry with ourselves. We may think of ourselves as failures or victims of life’s injustices.” He goes on to say, “At the time of a crisis, self-acceptance enables us to relax, let go, and flow with the current rather than fight in panic. That peace will then radiate to others.”
Who knows, if enough of us begin clearing the pathways to our inner light, it might just cause a transformative shift, powerful enough to illuminate the darkest of nights.
I wish to dedicate this month’s column to Susan Vitale, a special soul from the Montauk community who recently passed. Susan’s generosity and boundless spirit touched countless hearts throughout the many circles she traveled. We’ll miss you, “Mother Earth.”