Sunday, January 10, 2010

We are followers of the light.

Longing for the salve of a wounded existence, a cure for the affliction of being separate and alone, we pursue sources of light that pose as prophets, absolutes, promises of wholeness and of dreams coming true, rainbows and all that glitters.

We fall in love, bedazzled, and become as children innocently drawn by the anticipation of empowerment and enlightenment, aspiring to become gold by association. In this fertile attraction are planted the magic seeds of devotion. Yet in trying to get as close as possible to the Light, by some perversion of alchemy we find ourselves unable to discern the line dividing blameless surrender and blind faith. Our power is relinquished to holy men, healers, heads of state or organizations, to heroes, superstars, gurus or just to ordinary people we believed were extraordinary. And so, good turns into evil and, like a moth lighting up with the flame, we melt into One and become a power supply.

The ancient legends of Jatayu and Sampaati, and of Icarus, are traditionally interpreted as warnings against the perils of idealism, but they are also lessons in humility revealing those who would pursue something greater than themselves as vain.

Is there any pursuit of the light that is both humble and noble? And how do you distinguish the real from the counterfeit when you find it?

Of real prophets it is said that By their fruit you will know them (The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:15-23). By their works not the words, their practice not the theory, their life not the teaching.

That is good advice. Still, one would be as well-advised to doubt the showy display of a fruit-bearing tree. Why does it set itself apart from others and beckon me to harvest there? What kind of tree is that?

It is said that, if you meet the Buddha, you should kill him, meaning that you should shatter the illusion of Light outside yourself. Cut the root of grandiosity and return to its humble origins.

By the first I know truth from the light cast by my own wisdom; by the second I cease to be more than that which I am already.

The light in both cases is me.