What is the real meaning of Diwali? Just a token celebrating of good over evil with the lamps and festivities, or the illuminating of the darkness of the mind and compassionate action?
As I lit the lamps in my home this year, for the first time I took a moment to actually reflect on the significance of the day. And what struck me made the festive mood a little bitter sweet. Are we really in a position today to celebrate the victory of good over evil? Is the light truly strong enough to vanquish the darkness?
Light and darkness are symbiotic. One gives canvas to the other’s expression. In the Tao, in the Dharma, in Yin and Yang, neither is the villain or the savior. But if their interrelation is well understood through experience, darkness can be metabolized into a light that heals oneself and others, and the very Earth herself.
Cultivating hopefulness is a discipline we must enact with energy and focus. Society supplies us with daily opportunities to choose either despair or hope, and it is up to us to choose where to focus our energy and attention. It is a real-time practice to engage with minor and major suffering all around us and to decide to step into the light of awareness, kindness, and assistance in all the ways we can. Through body, speech, and mind, we never lack for ways to be of service and help reduce the suffering of others. We can be specks of light ourselves in a canvas so dark one cannot see. Together we then begin to light the way.
Like every year, I will continue to light lamps and celebrate. But it holds a new meaning to me now. A reaffirmation of hope not just as told in the stories, but hope that together we can make a change. A hope that I can make a difference be it through my body, my words, my actions. And perhaps if every corner of the world is lit with compassion and a helping hand, we will truly have conquered the dark.
Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness. — Anne Frank
What is the source of your inner light? What brings you peace, calm, joy, connection? What drives out the suffering? The answers may be vastly different for each of us.