December 18 – Lighting Our Way – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Carl Jung

If Jung is right, then perhaps Paradise is no more than seeing the light forming in the dark. Perhaps being awake is paying attention to the ongoing moment of life that we so often take for granted, that moment—like conception, like seed cracking open—that is happening even as you read this.

Yet, as a headlight grows filmed by driving through all kinds of weather, the gift by which we perceive gets covered by experience, and our ability to see is diminished until we clean the gift. This is a lifelong process, one that never ends, but always begins.

So the care of one’s being is imperative and continuous, as simple and hard as wiping the residue of experience from your mind and heart, letting your original face again light the way.Though, like scratching the middle of your back, we often need each other to regain our sense of Oneness.

It helps here to tell an old Sufi story about a thirsty man who follows a muddy stream into a cave. He carries a lantern, holds it before him, and finds the clear source which he can drink from. When feeling muddied and troubled, we must not drink from the mud, but trace its source carefully. Carrying the lantern of our spirit before us, we must enter the darkness of our troubles if we are to drink clearly again from the source. This is making the darkness conscious, and compassion is swaying your small light near others too troubled or muddied to see their way.


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