The War Within and the Eternal Light
Image credit: Alice Popkorn
This morning, some of you around the world would have seen the partial solar eclipse that took place today between 4:40 am and 9:05 am UTC time (12:40am-5:05am Eastern time). Eclipses are powerful natural occurring events that remind us of the mysteries of life and the way we are vastly interconnected within a huge, beautiful universe.
Most astrologers remind us of the murkiness in the atmosphere during both lunar and solar eclipses and often suggest that the day prior, during and after an eclipse are not optimal times for important decisions and new beginnings. Some spiritual teachers do suggest that we can learn to work with the energy that eclipses bring so that we may evolve more skillfully along our spiritual path.
I have found that being still and present through meditation for the shadows eclipses highlight provides powerful insight. If you would like to know more about how to embrace the opportunities offered to us during an eclipse, I wrote a blog entry, Finding Light in the Dark, in which I suggest a few practical exercises to best utilize them as a means to support your personal growth. Of note, there will be a full lunar eclipse on September 28, 2015 between 12:11 am and 5:22 am UTC time (September 27, 7:11pm – September 28, 1:22am Eastern time).
Throughout this particular shadowy eclipse, luminosity has been very much on my mind. I have been in the music studio composing and arranging alternate productions of my song “I Am Light”. These will be on the ‘I Am Light” EP I am releasing this fall, alongside my new “I Am Light” music video. The latter, by the way, is a locked cut (editing is complete)! We are looking now for a skilled After Effects compositor who would like to do a few simple things to it so it may move to completion. If you or anyone you know would fit the bill, please let me know!
Often along the spiritual path, we wish to seek only the light, deeming its clarity “good”, and dismissing our shadow’s murkiness as “bad”. Yet, as we walk this Earth, we experience both day and night. When we turn towards the light of the sun or the moon, we also cast shadows along the ground. In this physical world built upon duality, when light is present, so is the potential for darkness. I explore the gift in embracing both the light and the dark as the totality of our human experience in my upcoming book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie. (If you are interested in it, you can pre-order a copy here.)
Though the chorus of my song “I Am Light” repeats the title phrase, the song does not encourage us to embrace only our luminosity by turning away from our shadows. Instead, it celebrates something deeper. The creative intention in the composition, inspired by the Buddhist Heart Sutra and prayer for enlightenment, is to turn our attention towards the eternal light that we all already are, beyond any sense of duality. From this place, we have all come. To this place, we are all returning. When we understand this, we do not fear our shadows, because we know they are limited and temporal. When we reclaim the energy that had been bound up in fearing or hiding our shadows, we dissolve our attachments to them, and in so doing, return to eternal light.
In moments of grace, I have had the privilege of peering into the infinite to witness that we are not limited physical beings having finite experiences. Instead, our true Self is beyond the stories our minds create, the weight we carry through misperceptions, the sense that we are divided, unloved, alone and must struggle to survive. We are literally eternal light – an effervescent luminosity that never ceases.
While my mind is full of sparkling melodies and rhythms, I am aware of the dissonance that exists in the world. We collectively face rampant issues of war, poverty, unrest and suffering, yet do we not easily forget about the magnitude of this suffering? Syrians have been fleeing their homeland by the hundreds of thousands for four years now, yet how many of us have given this crisis more than a moment’s thought until recently? And when we think about it, how do we perceive the fleeing and the attackers? As I explored in depth in my blog series Being in the Wake of Violence, healing truly begins when we see that both the attackers and the attacked are in suffering, and neither is separate from us. Is the suffering that exists within Syria as a whole and the way we can disregard it, living on the other side of the world, not like the way we can disregard painful aspects within ourselves that become eclipsed as we move through the day-to-day tasks of our mundane lives? And are we not prone to feeling helpless in the face of pain when we do see it?
In a similar way, there are parts within ourselves that we have forgotten, parts that we don’t want to deal with because the pain seems too great. The disregarded Syrian refugees who have fled from their turbulent homes remind me of the forgotten parts of our psyche, the painful aspects that we wish did not exist. As the heart awakens, we find there is room for it all as beings of eternal light, unbound by our perceived limitations. As we open the doors of our hearts towards our own suffering, we can open to be present for the suffering of others.
As I sing the words “I am light!”, I consider the prevalence of this global darkness, in particular with the uprise of radical groups that seem to only wish destruction. To me, ISIS is like a cancer that has grown on the collective human body. This cancer-like mutation of our beautiful human nature reflects the profound state of disconnection and wanting in which each of us are at this time, to some degree or another. Whether inwardly restless and unhappy, wanting this moment to be other than it is, or outwardly twisting the world and its people into painful distortions, we all have within us the seeds of anger, hatred and revenge. It is up to each one of us to choose whether or not to act from such a place of error in perception. To be a healthy people, I believe we need to turn towards pain, suffering, and cancerous mutations such as ISIS with conscious awareness of its radical irregularity and dissonance with our eternal self, so that we may embrace it with presence.
Cancer grows and spreads when left unattended. It seeks to convert healthy cells into anti-life. In a state of involution, rather than evolution, it is like the belly of a hungry dragon that knows only to consume. The distortions in the world that feed the radical groups of revenge and hatred are like an insatiable energy of wanting that is currently ravaging the body of the Earth and its people. Just as white blood cells move to eradicate disease in order to maintain health, there are those whose roles will be to act as military does when threatened. But just as all cells in the body work toward healing and harmony, each of us plays our own role. The doctors treat. The sweepers sweep. The tree planters plant trees. The carpenters build homes. The writers write. The singers sing. As each of us takes up the task we are born to do, it is like the many different functions of the body coming together for health. We cannot say that only the white blood cells protect the body from disease. The heart pumps. The neurons fire. The digestive system nourishes, and carries away waste. The skin guards. Each one of us must play our role as a healthy participant in the total health of our collective human body.
As one who has experienced what has been medically called a “miraculous healing”, I know that we move towards health not by approaching anti-life energy with either disgustful attack or effortful light. Such only fuels more sense of disconnection and causes illness to remain. Instead, healing happens as we embrace both our shadows and light equally, lovingly accepting it all as the totality of who we are. We do so with courage, forgiveness, understanding and a powerful sense of profound gratitude for whatever this moment brings. In so doing, we no longer fight the moment wishing it to be other than it is and contribute to the wanting and disconnection that feeds disease.
By realizing that suffering comes from suffering and pain spreads pain, we can meet any disconnection found in this moment with profound compassion. Ultimately, any wanting that exists within each one of us feeds the hungry dragon of wanting that fuels the cancers like ISIS on the collective human body. We each are a part of it all. If even a minute amount of wanting exists within our psyche, we are part of both the problem and the solution. No one is an island. It is up to each us to heal ourselves so that we support global healing. No one can do it for us. As we move along our path to enlightenment, we must embrace the totality of who we are with love and compassion so that we release the war within and no longer sustain the wars without. Only when we deeply rest in the knowing that we are eternal light will suffering cease.
The problem of unrest in the world is not “out there”. What we see outside reminds us of the very same that exists within. If we focus our energy exclusively on the problems outside ourselves, then we perpetuate the feeling of disconnection from our own shadows that cast darkness in the world.
If we wish an end to cancerous energies in the world like ISIS, we need to look within at the ways in which we – in this very moment – are living in fear and disconnect. Yes, we can play whatever active role we feel called to do to help anyone in suffering – be it those who are refugees from war, or those who act in violence such as in extremist groups like ISIS. But our actions must come from an understanding that to help another is to help ourselves and all beings. To approach it with a sense of doing something “for” “them” only increases divisiveness and disconnect. As interconnected beings, when we serve others we serve our self and the whole. We are one Earth family, all part of the collective human body.
As we remember the spiritual truth of “I am light”, we let go of the battle of the psyche to try to conquer this moment and make it how our divided selves want it to be. We let go of the fight to hold onto illusions of separateness, which fuel suffering, hatred and revenge. As we sing “I am light!”, we move our awareness towards the unending luminosity of our timeless Self. We rest in our eternal light and amplify illumination in the world. We then flood the collective body of humanity with all the sweetness of grace that we can access. We become vehicles for eternal light – who we truly are.
Today is the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Wishing all those who celebrate this festival a time of joy. May it radiate throughout the year.
May each one of you rest in your eternal light and in so doing, shine light in the world. Until next time, remember,
Love our world.
We are one Earth family.