Maybe Light My Fire

Photo courtesy of: ‘Glitter and the Light’ by suesnyder – Pixabay

In the natural world, or at least when human ingenuity impinges upon it, we see moths flying into candle flames and hovering around porch lights and street lamps. If a sea captain were to steer toward a lighthouse on a premonitory jutting out from the coast, his ship would come to grief, like a moth scorched by a candle flame.

The bright lights of Vegas and TV advertisements all seem designed with the moth mind in mind, scamming for our money while purporting to satisfy some conditioned ‘need’ or another. In the absence of lives that are fulfilling in their own right, such impulses circle around realms of imagined satisfaction like fireflies circling a field in late summer–with no motivation other than to catch the nearest flashing light.

So why, then, do spiritual traditions use ‘light’ as their image for realization, redemption, and great fulfillment? What kind of light are these traditions referring to?

Bright light is used in interrogations to exhaust and disorient their subjects. Yet the first light of dawn—if we are quiet and attentive enough—can draw us forth into feelings of presence and hopefulness, kindling interest in what the day will bring.

It seems that when light is used as an image of understanding, (illumination) and realization (enlightenment), we are being invited to explore the darkness of our own confusion and discouragement; and then the light that instills clarity and hopefulness is found within us, not outside.

In my experience, this light is more a glow than an intense flame; more a ‘pervasion‘ of warmth and comfort than a deluge of illumination from some external source; more ubiquitous than locatable phenomenon; more inherent than an occurrence, no matter how exceptional it may appear to be.

In the workings of society and the world stage, it seems that the light of caring and kindness comes from within the actors, not the floodlights of the theater or the footlights at the front of the stage. Unless we contribute our own light, the illumination of cities that never sleep, and the screens that are never truly turned off, will confuse us. It’s not that there is no greater light than our own, but that we won’t be able to tell the difference between the interrogation bulb and the dawning of a new day, unless we nurture the light of being within ourselves and recognize its resonance with the greater light into which we have been born.

About Michael Gray

I first started studying TSK in the mid 1980's and have since attended a number of retreats and workshops at the Nyingma Institute, in both TSK and Buddhist themes. I participated in the life-changing Human Development Training Program in 1991, and upon returning to Albuquerque co-founded an organization, Friends in Time (with a friend who has Lou Gehrig's Disease), which continues to serve people with similiar disabilities. I contributed an essay to "A New Way of Being"--the last one in the book--in which I describe how learning to honor who I have been has broadened and deepened my openness to present experience. I live in New Mexico with my wife and two sons.
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2 Responses to Maybe Light My Fire

  1. Michael Gray says:

    I love the extended quote from “Dynamics of Time and Space”.

    I’ve been reading the original TSK book for the past half year and since my mind is unable to range freely across the open meadows of Rinpoche’s writings, I could not have found such a relevant passage as you have quoted, even though I once read Dynamics with great appreciation.

    That’s one reason to have friends who read differently and often more attentively. We get to partake of a richer feast than we could ever have laid out on our own.

  2. David Filippone says:

    If we are born of the planets… the light of knowing from the sun… our bodies from the dust of stars, and blood that runs through us like water deeply rooted in flowing springs… then we too unfold with the expanding universe of time and space… who can say that the light of knowing isn’t enlightened darkness?

    Knowledge in its arising is more than just a word; far more than just a concept. If you let go ‘into’ knowledge, without prejudging or relying on the previous, you can activate the power of what is positive. Attuned to the unique juncture of the pervasive path, knowledge can liberate the heart and mind, bringing clarity and vitality. It can prepare the way for love and compassion and for all that is good.

    Beyond these transformations, there is the new AVAILABILITY OF APPEARANCE. In this availability, the future presents itself. We contact unknown knowledge, and discover that we are living very close to universal time. Like heroes of knowledge, we can enact a self-illuminating model of mastery.

    ENLIGHTENING KNOWLEDGE – Imagine that your life is unfolding in a positive direction, moving from light to lighter. As light radiates through your awareness, let it expand out, touching the dark and painful parts of your own life, as well as the dark, chaotic confusion of human suffering. Imagine that all mistaken problems and concerns are released, never to return.

    As ‘lighter’ leads to light, beauty and joy transform experience for beings everywhere. All appearance can accommodate the wholeness of knowledge. Being offers us its friendship and inspires us toward opportunity. The mind becomes clear, and our resolve not to fall back into darkness becomes unshakable. There is no need to hurry or worry, to think up solutions, to reach out or interfere—no need even to let go.
    …’Dynamics of Time and Space’, by Tarthang Tulku, p. 336-8

    Author, Michael Gray, pens a Blog entitled, ‘Maybe Light My Fire’… about ‘Light’ and perhaps its fractured derivative, ‘glitter’… and illumination from within… and reconciling them…

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