Monday, February 15, 2010

Let the light shine

"When a candle is lit in a dark room, it illuminates the room to some extent, but its power is limited. But if you use the same candle to light another candle, the total brightness increases. If you continue to do this, you can fill the room with brilliant illumination... If we keep our own light selfishly hidden, it will only provide a limited amount of illumination. But when we share our light with others, we do not diminish our own light. Rather, we increase the amount of light available to all. Therefore, when others light our candle, we issue forth light. When out of gratitude we use our candle to light other people’s candles, the whole room gets brighter... This kind of light is continuous and inexhaustible."

- Master Sheng Yen from "Rich Generosity" (Tricycle, Spring 2009)

My next Personal Commandment is "Let the light shine," which is probably just another way of saying "The blessing of love," but there's something about this phrase in particular that works for me.

I received this quotation through Tricycle's Daily Dharma emails right about the same time that I posted my musings on helping others with a smile and a sense of well-being. And the symbol of light really fits that feeling for me. When I'm helping people in this kind of loving way, my sense is that my light is resonating with their light. And I really do believe that's why we feel good in that moment. We are flooded with light and we both benefit from the interaction.

I have the great good fortune to have a job where I get to interact with all kinds of people. And some of my very favorite people are those that have been cast out of society to some degree. I can tell you that they are filled with light. Many of them are veterans, which fits the otherwise mostly unrelated song that popped into my mind when I finally found the right words for this Commandment. It's not quite the same phrase, but when I look at the faces in this clip from a family favorite, I see the light.

[Smugness disclaimer: I hope it doesn't seem like I'm saying that these commandments are how I act all the time. Goodness no! These are just reminders to the Future Me of things that work well. I'm really making this list as a toolbox of things I can try when things are clearly going wrong:) If they're useful to you in any way then that's lovely, but my intention isn't to tell anyone how to be. Perhaps you will enjoy thinking of your own Personal Commandments, which may be radically different from mine. I'd hope so:) We all have our own light to shine.]