July 31 – The Eye Is the Lamp – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light.” Jesus

Jesus implies that the eye that is clear, lets light in. Considering the eye as something that lets light in and not just something that observes light outside itself, opens the heart of the matter. To make it through the days, we must consider our heart as something that lets the reality of others in, and not just something that maps its way through the desires and fears of others. To let others in as well as to let ourselves out seems essential to staying authentic.

There is a liberating paradox that often cripples our hearts when seen as either/or. It involves the tension between risk and safety. Often risking openness is seen as a dangerous way to lose all safety, and keeping closed is seen as a way to stay safe. This reflects a walled-in, walled-out sense of being in the world. Within the wall is safe; outside the wall is not. This belief, of course, never acknowledges the suffocating dangers of the wall itself. The mask worn after the face has grown becomes a wall that rubs and cuts.

The paradox is that in true interior ways, the only path to deep safety, that sea of inner peace, is through the shifting sands of risk. Risk opens safety. It doesn’t shut it down. Only through the risk to open can we inhabit and receive the strength and fullness of what is whole.

This raises the very profound question of how to define self-protection. Is it hiding who you are or is it being who you are? Is it guarding yourself with all that you see or is it clearing yourself to let light in? Is it preparing yourself against all that can hurt you or is it opening yourself to all that can heal you?

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