“You cannot change the world. You can only allow it to be changed through you.” ~ Lynda Austin
As the darkness of this troubling world only gets darker, the old mechanisms you’ve dedicatedly hung your hat on may no longer work or be enough to be the change agents our world needs. While helpful and necessary, it won’t be enough to simply advocate for change, to protest with your impassioned speeches, to spread your important messages on social media. It won’t be enough to continue pushing and fighting in the way you always have in your community, in your vocation. Certainly not without an imperative inner shift.
Something more is needed of us now that is far from personal, and beyond our understanding.
Only light can remove darkness
“Darkness can’t drive out darkness, only light can do this. Hate can’t drive out hate, only love can do this.” ~ Martin Luther King
In these times of increasing polarization, chaos and pain, only your inner light—its creative intelligence, wisdom, guidance and love—can be the balm for our individual and collective burdens; only it can show a new way through the darkening maze. This light that our illustrious teachers and mystics have spoken of at great length and peril, and that is the unifying essence of all our great religions, is not sourced by what you do, by your name, history, education, intellect, expertise and experience, although it is expressed through your actions. Rather, this “Way” as the Chinese Sage Lao Tzu called it, or “Kingdom” as Jesus referred to it, is vastly impersonal and deeply mysterious. Yet it is there, waiting patiently for us to allow it into our hearts.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
We as fleshy, temporal humans experiencing ourselves as separate from one another and our inner light cannot “save the world”, as much as we like to think we can. The rapidly growing complexity of what is happening on Earth is so vast that it is absolutely impossible for us to comprehend, let alone “fix”, with our limited rational minds and expertise alone. Try as we might, we cannot properly address deeply insidious inter-generational diseases and time-tested human dysfunction simply by shifting policies, legislation, behaviors or by any reductionist approach. Humbly, we will eventually have to recognize that we, without inspiration and guidance from a higher and far more sophisticated intelligence cannot know what our crumbling world begs for; nor can we fathom the purposefulness of why the darkness darkens as it does, other than to bring out the light each of us secretly carries.
Indeed, the darkness calls forth the light in our hearts now more than ever in our history. It forces us to open to it, for, as time will tell, the love, wisdom and creativity in our hearts will be the only place of solace and reliable resource we can turn to in these dire times.
This is the concealed agenda and gift the rising sea of darkness proffers—to awaken and unite us; to light the flame of our inner power and have its heat embolden our thoughts, actions and vision. We see this happening more and more, in particular in the United States right now as civilians stand together for justice, equality and freedom; as impassioned leaders like Senator Elizabeth Warren speak out against the oppressive federal regime.
Paradoxically, just as villains/ adversity are required for heroes to be born, light needs dark to be birthed and felt in human experience. Imagine light without darkness, stars without the black sea of night, flowers without the obscurity their seeds are buried in, novels and movies without antagonists or sudden hardship. An interplay, a dynamic tension between both polarities is necessary for the human story to unfold. We need resistance in order to evolve. We require darkness… until we don’t; until we are ready to free ourselves from the layers of darkness we no longer wish to hide under, such that we stand in and speak from the light of deeper truth.
But let me say this again—those impassioned speeches and rallying cries, those banners and petitions, while necessary initial steps, won’t be enough on their own. It won’t be enough to praise the light and condemn the dark anymore. Our actions won’t be enough unless inspired by a hidden voiceless voice that knows what you can’t possibly know about the mysterious, time-worn interplay between light and dark; that sees and respects the unfolding human story in ways no human mind can.
Bringing in light is the key to change. For, you cannot remove darkness from a dark room. You cannot fight darkness and ever truly “win”. You can only bring in light.
The Gospel of Thomas, the secret text found in Egypt in 1945, bespeaks this truth with the words, “There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness.” Within the same gospel are these powerful words also revealing the consequences of not shining your light: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” When many fail to bring forth their light, humanity and the planet get destroyed, as we are seeing at an accelerated rate. And Plato bespoke of light and dark when he wrote, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the Light.”
Highlighting, repairing, removing and moving the outdated and toxic pieces in the dark room that is our world have been longstanding strategies of mankind. Wars have broken, despots have been overthrown, people sent to prison, and our political, social and economic systems have received countless “upgrades” only to let you down, again. These changes may provide temporary relief, but unless our actions are inspired by light, by the One—the Way, the Kingdom, Brahman in the Hindu religion, Emptiness in Buddhism—that perceives not in parts, but from the whole, the room will remain dark, and only get darker, the pieces remaining painfully separate. We will deal with symptoms, just as allopathic medicine does, as compared to naturopathic/ homeopathic medicine that treats the cause, the whole system. Disease removed will only return later on, but in another form, in another way, as is the case when we only treat symptoms. Yet another despot will appear replacing the old one, new terrorist networks will emerge threatening national security, more jails will be built and overflow, systems seemingly “fixed” will reveal only deeper layers of dysfunction. The collective body of humanity will get sicker and sicker. Darkness will thicken despite our well-intentioned efforts to “manage” or “make better”. A bottomless pit, indeed.
This is where we are now.
Eventually we must realize, we must intuitively feel, for posterity’s sake, that ignorance, separation consciousness and all our left-brain driven shape shifting and re-ordering of pieces keeps us in the murk.
Only light removes the dark.
Surrender to the Unknown
“When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.” ~ Patrick Overton
Advocacy and fighting for justice, equality and freedom has been a necessary stage in human development. It was the best we could do given our state of consciousness, including our limited global awareness. But we are at a different evolutionary stage now. In part thanks to contemporary inspirational leaders such as Oprah, the Dalai Lama, Pema Chödrön, Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle and countless others, as well as the proliferation of yoga studios, retreat centers, somatic therapy, osteopathy and other sources of healing and help, the light is bright enough to inspire new awareness and choice, just at a time, not coincidentally, when the darkness darkens to its current intensity, catalyzing us forward, inward, upward in a quantum leap we are ready for.
But if we are not mindful, not self-aware, we will get stuck in separation-based advocacy and fighting and propagate further polarization and fear. We will continue to wave our fists and raise stern words at others as a means of avoiding what is truly needed of us—to surrender control; to give ourselves over to the Great Unknown, the light. We will project our old buried fears and anger onto corrupt politicians and greedy corporations instead of turning inwards towards the darkness in which our pain hides, and feeling the inter-generational trauma that lies within and that separates us from our light. Unwittingly, we will scapegoat our so-called leaders, not realizing that change begins within, and that our deepest fear is not out there, but rather it is the inner transformation needed for the outer one to occur.
“Until we have met the monsters in ourselves, we keep trying to slay them in the outer world. And we find that we cannot. For all darkness in the world stems from darkness in the heart. And it is there that we must do our work.” ~ Marianne Williamson, Everyday Grace: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness And Making Miracles
This requires something more from us, a different kind of courage from the one needed in advocacy and fighting; a humility, a softening, one that invites us into the unknown that is our heart. The thinking mind that assumes to know what is best for the world must open and be surrendered. It’s false limited sense of authority must bow to the light of higher authority. The question is: how deep do you bow?
In bowing, we lower our heads and thus begin the long daunting pilgrimage down from the blinding certainty of thought and control—from the ruling limited personal identity—gradually unveiling the impersonal light within our long-shrouded hearts. Here, in our tender open-heartedness, higher knowing or wisdom finds us, and leads. We are then able to let ourselves be led.
From this state of inner alignment we no longer change the world, but rather allow it to be changed through us. We are receptacles, listening attentively for what wants to happen through us, what wants to be expressed, created, given. We act courageously on our inner impulses, our intuition, on how we can be of service, perhaps through art, dance, building a community garden, leading workshops, becoming a meditation teacher, inspiring alternative education, climate change adaptation initiatives, innovative and Earth-friendly product development. We do what we love such that we become more loving. We do what speaks to our heart. We become vehicles of light allowing the new emerging world to be birthed from the inside out.
Once in the light, how we present ourselves in our writing, and advocating, and presenting, and creating has a different energy or intention, one that does not perpetuate the us-and-them, fear-based polarity that darkness only seeks to widen; one that no longer wishes to pollute Mother Earth and her inhabitants. For, less and less are our actions determined by fear and separation, and more by the uniting force of love.
Only light and love can bridge us towards each other, into the new world we long for. Only love can remove fear.
Expect the unexpected
“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore
Expect the unexpected—doors to close in your life. Expect your secure yet dry cubicle or bureaucratic job or emotionally detached relationship to feel progressively precarious and unfulfilling. Expect yourself to question more, to be satisfied with the status quo less; to be shaken free from what has felt increasingly toxic and overly comfortable, from what you think you want, and dropped into the lap of uncertainty.
This daunting gaping emptiness is a gift, for in it you learn to no longer fear the darkness of uncertainty, and its corollary outward manifestation—the unsteadiness and dark uncertainty of the world. In coming face-to-face with, and learning to be with loss, including a personal loss of control, you become less fearful and more accepting of the “out of control” chaos our world faces. What you can be with within you can be with without. You see your personal chaos as a microcosm of the unfolding macro chaos and accept it for what it is—a necessary stage of transformation, much like the chaos a caterpillar goes through as it loses its identity into the dark uncertain soup of its cocoon in order to become a butterfly. And as fear subsides in your nervous system and, like a blossoming flower, your tired tight grip opens, light and love can fill and feed your hungry body-mind-heart. You are set free to fly.
Therefore, pay close attention in the dark void of neither here nor there, when what was no longer is. Be silent, still. Listen. Feel. Expect the light to slowly replace the darkness bit by bit as you gradually make room in your nervous system for it. Expect it to manifest into your daytime and nighttime dreams and spontaneously inspire creativity and imagination in you. Be aware of any intuitive nudges pointing you towards new directions, as well as synchronicities which are the Cosmos’s intelligence at play, its winks at you, validating you are on the right track.
You are availing yourself to the light’s guidance and abundance. Like the caterpillar, you, we are being called to fly! You are offering yourself in service, to be used, to live purposefully as a light bearer for those ready to shine. You are offering yourself to the deeper wisdom and way that holds all—the profane and the profound, the saint and the sinner, the diabolical and divine—with equal love, rather than separating them, making one right and the other wrong. In loving and holding room for all, you can serve all.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” ~ Rumi
When the light finally finds you, you may suddenly be grateful for the darkness that fell, and perhaps even the perpetrators. You may have a whole new appreciation for difficulty. As is usually the case, as history tells us collectively and individually, great and necessary advances occur through the deep trenches of trials and tribulations. Suffering wakes us up; it unites and edifies us into new, more loving, conscious ways of being and living. The despot, the nasty boss, the illness, the accident, the poverty, may just be our most profound teachers and catalysts.
“When the world pushes you to your knees, you are in the perfect position to pray.” ~ Rumi
This is our opportunity now. We seize it by releasing control, including our understanding of why our world is in so much turmoil; we hold our opinions with a looser grip. These larger, complex and mysterious questions are not to be answered, but given over. The further we travel into the light our wisdom reminds us of this and that the more we know the less we know. It’s deeply humbling to accept this. And thus, rather than seek to figure out and fix, we live more fully by trusting uncertainty, opening our hearts to grace, surrendering, emptying, innocently walking like a child available to the Great Unseen, giving ourselves over to the “answer that surpasses understanding”, and letting it reveal the way.
The darkness stands before us, yet in truth, it stands within us. Collectively and individually only by going through the dark can we find the light we long for. Through the doorway of darkness we return to our numinous Self.
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Check out Vince’s book: Wild Empty Spaces ~ Poems for the Opening Heart