Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Becoming Lighter

By Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda

One of the significant meanings of Dipavali, the festival of lights, is that it is not just one light, but a line of lights. Dipa means light, avali means line—a line of lights. This is a constant reminder that we mustn't just be waiting for the miracle of enlightenment, but rather we must be constantly be lighting lights. There must be a long line of them—a long line of good deeds, of prayers, of repetition of God's name, of study. We will not lighten up the darkness of our interior with one flash. It does happen, but we shouldn't expect it to happen to us. Only through a long line of lights can we expect our interior to be lightened up.

But light also has another meaning, perhaps even more important for our spiritual life, although at first it doesn't seem to have any direct connection with the lamps of Dipavali. There is such a thing as lightness of being as opposed to darkness of being or heaviness of being. And it is a reminder to us that no matter how many lamps we light, if we are remaining heavy, if we are remaining dark, then we're going to remain stuck exactly where we are. That darkness, that heaviness, is the old. We can light a million lamps, but if we are not prepared to shed the old and start afresh, then we will remain where we are.

But how do we lighten up? How do we bring this most important quality of lightness into our life. The way that has always been laid out—and in the final analysis is the only way—is through a constant surrender to God. Whatever we have that is bothering us, that is weighing us down, that is drag on our spiritual life, we must surrender to God, seek His guidance, seek His relief.

And above all, in the spiritual life, what weighs us down is our constant concern about ourselves. It is the me, which is always center stage in our lives, that is the real darkness, the real weight. And so the true way to light a line of lamps is the constant practice of surrendering the me to God. After I have surrendered all things that I am concerned with, I must not forget that the most important thing to surrender is me. Every time I do it I light a hidden lamp within, I become a little lighter. And it is this hidden light within that is capable of ultimately bursting forth into the true light of enlightenment.

We have to go through darkness to find the true Dipavali, which is one reason that it is held on the darkest night of the month. "From darkness lead us unto the Light." It happens from within the darkness of our soul. Bit by bit, day by day we become lighter by, through profound surrender, shedding the me.

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