Last week, I visited a Buddhist retreat center just outside of Granada. As I walked around, I noticed there were many inscriptions with mantras and prayers for dispelling darkness. I couldn’t resist asking one of the nuns about their importance. Smiling at me, she replied, “The more you embrace your light, the more you’ll need to face your darkness.”
Naive people along the spiritual path often believe that once we make it out of our own darkness, we will somehow reach a perpetual state of happiness and joy and we’ll never again have to worry about experiencing uncomfortable feelings like anger, fear or shame. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
When you flip the light switch in a room that has been dark for a long time, there will almost certainly be cobwebs, dust, and decay to clean up. The spiritual path of the heart is no different. Once the light of love begins to fill your heart, you’ll inevitably have to face all the unlovingness within you.
We need to presume that the lights will continue to go out again and again. That we’ll inevitably have to confront all those parts within us where we are either withholding our love or afraid to let love in. That life will continue to bring us plenty of opportunities to heal and transform all those shadows we easily see reflected in others but struggle to embrace in ourselves.
Rather than being surprised by the sudden feelings of darkness that a relationship, event or situation might trigger and shame ourselves into believing that there’s something wrong with us, the more loving thing to do is to practice self-compassion. Then go back to turning the light inside your heart on.
Turning your inner heart light on over and over again through some kind of daily practice – which could include a guided meditation, mantra or prayer – is the best way to prevent, respond and move through those moments of darkness. During those moments, remember that this darkness is a sign that you are shining brighter and brighter. And that the only way out of this darkness is through it!
So keep on walking your path, and don’t let yours or another person’s darkness keep you from shining your unique light. If you genuinely wish to be the light of your world, you must be willing to face your own darkness.
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From my heart to yours.
Photo by Maria Iracli