Monday, February 27, 2012

Shine Your Light On You

I love the image of light as an analogy for spiritual truth, love, transformation and compassion. Virtually every religious tradition – from Pagan Nature Worship to Buddhism, to Hinduism, to Zoroastrianism, to Judaism, to Christianity – use the concept of light in this way.

I am to let my light shine and not cover it with a basket. Jesus was called the Light of the world. Chanukah is the Festival of Light. Buddhists refer to one’s Inner Light as the source of spiritual Truth.

People often will say I am so small and insignificant that my light cannot make a difference. Yet, if you and others were to be inside a darkened building and could not find the exit door, just the smallest match would provide enough light to allow all of you to escape. This example reminds me of the children’s ditty “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine….”

One of my favorite visual examples is that of a lighthouse. It shines its rotating spotlight out into the inky darkness of night. It does not care if ships at sea look for it or heed its recurring beam. It simply shines. That is its purpose. It’s not the fault of the lighthouse if a ship ignores its beam and founders in the shallows. The lighthouse does not get into a snit (like I seem to do), pick up its skirts and relocate itself to another cove where it believes it will be appropriately appreciated. It just – night after night – shines its light.

That is what I am to do. As small, as flickering, as apparently inconsequential as my little beam of light may be, I am simply to shine my light and let Spirit do the rest. As I learned in AA: “Live as best you can today; don’t drink today; go to a meeting and share today; work the Steps today; pray today; and the rest of your life is none of your business.”

If someone doesn’t appreciate my honesty, as I share of myself, that is not my concern. If someone refuses to subscribe to my messages, that is not my concern. If someone decides to unsubscribe, that is not my concern. If no one seems to be interested, that is not my concern. Just shine, baby, shine – and the rest of my life is none of my business.

In fact, that is, literally, what I used to say. “All I want to do is to shine my light.”

Then, one evening in Tennessee, a respected friend gently admonished me. “Don, quit saying that you’re trying to shine your light. Continue saying that and soon it will become a ‘task’ your Ego grabs a hold of. The Course [in Miracles] tells us our light is already there. Inside. Our job is to strip away the personal gunk that is covering it up – fear, judgment, anger, analyzing, mind-wandering, frustration, attachments. As we remove this dark ego-gunk, we simply will be uncovering the light that is already there – and has always been there.”

A Course in Miracles (ACIM) says, “The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief in yourself. Your other life [spirit] has continued without interruption, and has been and always will be totally unaffected by your attempts to dissociate it.” (Text: 4,VI,1,6-7)

So I no longer try to shine my light. I ALLOW my light to shine.

To “try to shine my light,” requires the verb “try” and the adjective “my.” This has always been my downfall. Since I am the one TRYing – it becomes an activity of MY will and resolve. It quickly becomes a job, an objective, a goal. Since light-shining now is MY mission, MY progress can be tracked, improved on, clarified, and made better. These are all the symptoms of MY ego-based efforts to be good, relevant and spiritual. And, brother, you had better notice and applaud! or I’ll take my marbles and go home.

Whenever I find myself using the tools I’ve developed (the same tools you’ve developed) to protect me from my perceived world, then I know I’m in a state of fear. “What tools?” you ask. Tools like rationalizing, being on the defensive, minimalizing, justifying, projecting, general dis-believing – to name only a few. When I use these tools I will always feel like a victim or a potential victim or a victor. In any of these cases it means I am reacting to my perceived world as if it’s some sort of bad, evil, dangerous place I need to conquer or overcome.

That’s a bad place for me to be. It separates me from you. It covers my light. It is the most serious symptom I detect that reminds me I have slipped, once again, into the frame of mind that allows me to believe I am my body and must do “godly” things to save my soul (which resides somewhere inside me). 

When I remember I am an already-loved spirit currently having a human experience, then I can begin to deal with much of my ego-centric attitude. Essentially, it keeps my focus on the spiritual truth that everything is always an “inside” job.

Now, I try
not to shine my light. I try to allow my light to shine. I realize it’s a small grammatical difference. But, I believe it’s a whopping BIG spiritual difference.

Thanks for listening. Please share this by forwarding it to friends and family.


#4 February, 2012


Donald O'Dell


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