These are beautiful words – but what exactly do they mean? What is “the light” and how do we live “in the light”? Good question! Oftentimes we can understand a concept by first looking at its opposite. In this case, it’s darkness. Darkness is associated with evil, with underground, with hate…it is the yang to the yin of light. What happens when we shed light in the darkness? It is easier to see the road, the path, the way. It is easier to understand the effects of our actions. It is less scary and more friendly.
Light, then is the opposite of dark. It is love, kindness, warmth, daytime and clear seeing. Love is spiritual light. It illuminates the darkness by showing us the path to walk. How do we love? Most of the ancient religions have codified a system that gives us this answer. Yes, it seems obvious to many that most religions today have lost their way (in the dark?) but their teachings are truthful. Buddhism has a clear system of guidelines – the 8 fold path which includes right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right samadhi. That pretty much covers it all. The 8 limbs of Yoga include the same concepts – non-harming, and more. These guidelines do leave many actions open to interpretation, but from a clear perspective give us all the information we need to live in the light of love.
How can we use our positive intentions to be more loving beings? How can love guide our words and actions – all day every day. What is the touchstone for love? Our heart, which carries the wisdom of the ages can guide the way once we learn how to listen. This is one of the important results of meditation. By sitting quietly and centering our mind we can more easily hear our heart’s wisdom. Through mindful breath (called pranayama in yoga) we learn to silence the mind’s chatter, or to at least turn down the volume on its opinions and reactions. In this way we can sort through our thoughts to find the ones that will guide us to our desired outcomes.
One teacher reminds us to ask this question: is it kind? if not, perhaps it is not the correct path…facing our own inner demons and releasing part of our personality that have been instrumental in creating problems for us is a big step, but one well worth taking. Slowing down our response time is helpful, taking deep breaths at a time of stress, calming our “fight or flight” pattern will guarantee a better outcome in most situations. Reacting from a place of fear generates adrenaline. Adrenaline is useful in times of true attack, we can find almost superhuman power in our bodies at such times but at other times, this response can cause more harm than good. Mindfulness is the key word here, learning to distinguish real from imagined threats to our safety and well being is a big step into the “light”.
A considered response is creative, is purposeful and can lead us to a desired outcome. A reactive response is the opposite. How do we become responsible people? The answers are always available to us and the key is in quieting our mind enough to be able to hear its wisdom. From here we can truly live “in the light of love”. The reference to “inner light” is all about tapping into the truth within. A chaotic mind will cause a chaotic life, if it is allowed to run our lives. We can live like three year olds (tantrum, anyone?) and yes there are some wonderful aspects of childhood that we want to preserve, but true adulthood has more capacity for responsibility and presence. Who’s running the show, our inner three year old or our seasoned adult. Making conscious choices feels good, to ourselves and others.