meditating on light and darkness

Do you see yourself as having a dark and a light side? Do you believe there is an aspect of you that is so pure it is beyond labels and basic mental understanding of light and dark? These are questions many contemplate for years. I don’t claim to have the answer, but if you, like me, believe that contemplation and action are one and the same, products of what we choose to focus on, then regular contemplation of these questions is a wise one.

My most recent inspiration on this subject came from the second verse of the 5th chapter of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. It is written something like this: “The threefold offspring (demonic, human, and gods) of the Divine asked to be taught the sacred knowledge to freedom. For the gods the teaching was to practice restraint/discipline; for the humans, generosity, and for the demons the sacred knowledge to freedom is compassion.”

I love reflecting on the meaning of these passages and based on my studies, this message is twofold. One, we share a planet with people who have a dark karma, and their freedom and release from suffering will be found in compassion. Those with a human karma will find their freedom in generosity, and those with a divine karma must learn to contain their energy through discipline to direct and manifest their potential. Two, we can see this passage as representing our unique, multifaceted aspects that include the light, the dark, and the unknown, and use each of these antidotes as a source of inspiration. I think we are best to stick with this interpretation before we try and identify the heroes and villains of our world.

Therefore, if we agree to look at this passage from the perspective of our individual threefold expression, the next logical step is to identify our understanding and beliefs of each of their meanings, and how we plan to further develop our path. To do this I thought about this verse often, and I used a journal and asked the following questions:

What is darkness?

If it is part of me how does it manifest?

What do I say, do, and express when it’s leading my moments?

Does it have value?

How, where, when?

Would using compassion be of value?



If not compassion, then what can I do when conscious of its visit?

Should I simply continue to fuel my darkness?

Maybe guilt is an option?

How would that manifest?

If I choose to use compassion what will that look like?

How will I remind myself? What about our unique human expression?

How would you describe yourself?

How do you think others would describe you?

Do you think that if you are being critical and expressing your faults that you are being more honest and realistic?

What do you want to share most with the people in your life?

Defining generosity is also interesting. I strongly believe that it is impossible to feel drained from giving when giving is rooted in heartfelt generosity. As for our Divine Self, the ultimate question is: Who am I? And as long as we identify with an answer we are dancing with mental concepts.

In short, my conclusion looks like this:

• The moments we observe our darkness, especially in thought, awaken compassion.

• With our humanity and that of others we share our life with, which includes our wants, needs, and aspirations, let’s be generous, remembering that one of the greatest gifts we can provide is to simply listen.

• With our Divinity let’s be disciplined, as this is the only way we will be able to fully express and direct our unique and greatest gift.

I invite you to play with these questions and see what arises for you. Let’s turn the lights on by fueling compassion, generosity and curiosity, and let’s include our whole self in the dance of life.

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