In order to give light, one must first burn. Wise advice from Rumi, one of history’s greatest Sufi mystics. Although great ideas like this are often explained with the noblest intentions, we never really know how they can be interpreted by those who try to comprehend its meaning. Many people, belonging to various religious and non-religious groups, who strongly identify with certain ideologies, seem to think, for example, that being a light unto the world requires that not only they themselves burn, but that they also burn others down with them in the process of spreading their message. People such as terrorists, etc. Yet many of us engage in the same kind of behavior in our daily lives. In our self-righteous attempts to shine a light unto the world, we end up creating problems, because what we believe is the truth, what we believe is the way in which others should live, is not necessarily the way in which they themselves believe they should live. Often we are the ones who are wrong, yet we go around our whole lives spewing nonsense and corrupting the minds of those who are unfortunate enough to hear us.
Too often we think that shining a light requires us to be heroes, to start great political or religious movements, to reform some kind of movement or to help thousands of people in need. All of these can be truly noble pursuits, but we don’t need to achieve some great, outstanding achievement in this life in order to be a light. In fact, the constant feeling of needing to be someone, to be important, has taken hold of many of us who now live based on our ego, telling ourselves that what we need to achieve is for the people, for our families, or for our friends, when it is really for ourselves. Many of us let this idea get in the way of relationships, as we may believe ourselves to be superior to everyone else, and we may try to control the way in which others behave, or shame others for the way they live or think. We need to restrict the number of proclamations we make based on little or no evidence, for they are far too many nowadays. Many of us in today’s world, wish to shed light on topics we feel strongly for or against. Although there are certainly things which should be, and are for the most part, frowned upon by society as a whole, such as any action that harms innocent people, there are other things which are not so clear. Sometimes in an attempt to shed light on something we believe we have the authority to speak on, we end up judging people based on nothing but our own preconceived notions, or on ideas we’ve adopted from our society over time. Both are quite the same really.
When we condemn someone else for something, we often fail to see that we are condemning ourselves. As the expression goes, when you point at someone you’re pointing three fingers back at yourself. There are no good and bad people. We have all been good and bad at some point, and the good we might have done might have simply happened without our good intention even. So was it really a good deed? The fact is that everything which is good is in some way bad, and everything which is bad is in some way good, in the grand scheme of things. There is nothing in this physical plane which escapes the law of duality, of cause and effect, or that is beyond the illusion of separation, of maya. We can only come to an understanding of the oneness beyond the illusion of separation if we accept that all difference is due to illusion, and that all is really the same.
We must realize that, although some crimes might be more severe than others, we are all essentially committing the same sin, to put it in an understandable way. What sin is this? The sin of allowing our lower instincts to take control of us, and to make us act against our better judgement, against our inherent wisdom, against our inner light. We have allowed ignorance to consume us, we have embraced suffering and become it, devoid of divine perception. This transgression leads to every single evil present in our world, it all comes from this same source. So instead of blaming others, blaming the system, the elite, or the bankers and the politicians, or blaming gangs and organized crime, or blaming religion or the media, rather than spending our time assigning blame, we need to humble ourselves and to come to the realization that we are no better than anyone else.
We are all equal in spirit, but not in mind. And speaking of mind, keep in mind that mind is not eternal. Mind, or brain, will come to and end. The person and the body you identified with so closely, which you nurtured so dearly for so many years, will die, will cease to exist in the blink of an eye. Where will you go? Where will you be? We have many religions and philosophies which attempt to provide insight into where we will be after death, but apart from that, there is another way in which we will continue to be: in the hearts and minds we have touched while on this planet, during this incarnation. The legacy we leave behind can either be one of light or one of darkness. And you might ask, well, isn’t everything both light and dark in the end?
The answer is that it is, but only in illusion, only in the limited way in which we perceive the world. No matter how many choices we make, reality on this plane will keep on manifesting itself and generating experiences based on perfect dual balance, or so it will seem to the untrained eye. Behind the scenes of all the suffering and pain, of all the glory and triumph, of all the love and the hate, all our thoughts and actions are bringing about equal opportunities for wrongs to be set right, for past mistakes to be corrected to create a better future. The only wisdom we can leave behind as a legacy to this forever-divided world is that of the oneness behind the illusion, so that the message may reach those who are blessed to receive it, so that they may see past the illusion and may live to teach others about the oneness of it all.
When we live with this perception of everything as one, compassion becomes more natural to us, we become less anxious for situations to go our way, we become less stressed and worried about the future, we become less controlling of those around us and instead we open our minds and get in touch with our intuition in order to honestly evaluate every area of our lives. When we live with this perception of oneness, it becomes harder to judge others, since we see that their mistakes arise from the same state of ignorance which our own mistakes arise from. We begin to see the need to lead by example, as opposed to merely teaching and preaching everywhere we go.
Teaching is good, but more important is walking the talk, living a life of integrity which others can learn from. At times, this may seem impossible in a world filled with so much ignorance. But this helpless feeling can be alleviated by seeing the ignorance itself as an illusion. All ignorance is there so that we may see past it, as a motivational boost for us to keep rising, improving, moving beyond our limited state of perception. Living life in such a truthful and honestly mystical way will no doubt come with its challenges, often great ones at that. But to one who has felt the deep oneness which underlies and pervades all existence, and who feels the necessity to make this known, the task seems more important than even his own personal identity. Such selflessly enlightened souls are definitely ready to burn in order to provide a dazzling light, a bright candle which will shine forever, opening the doors of perception for those brave ones looking to venture past what they think they already know.
Plato said that “those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed, by the masses. Martin Luther King Jr., Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, all imprisoned for the noble cause of uniting divided peoples, of rebelling against division and separation and hate. Gandhi was also assassinated for peace by a man who was strongly driven by extreme nationalism. Among artists, John Lennon was assassinated among many other activists for peace throughout the ages. And let’s not forget Jesus whose very message of peace led to his violent death by crucifixion. Sometimes one feels the need to heal this world no matter the consequences. Most of us ignore this sentiment, preferring to go about our daily lives without a care. Those who are brave enough to accept such an uncomfortable challenge are truly heroes, God’s shining lights illuminating the Earth at various point throughout the ages.
~ Rebel Spirit ~