(Published in the Spiritually Speaking column of The Daily Guardian on November 2, 2020)
Darkness is not the opposite of light but the absence of it. We are all striving for light in our lives and this is the season of the year where we celebrate light. Dussehra and Diwali are both connected intrinsically to light.
But in the process of celebrating the victory of light over darkness, we tend to forget that these are not opposites of each other but one is the absence of the other. There is no light in darkness and there is no darkness in light. But yet for us human beings to live and experience life we need both of these things.
Light and darkness happen to all of us. Generally we associate light with goodness and knowledge and darkness is associated with evil and ignorance. Every religion in the world associates light with the divine creator. We celebrate the victory of light over darkness every year on Dussehra and Diwali (which is also referred to as the ‘Festival of Lights’). We celebrate the victory of deities over demons. But the most important lesson from these annual reminders is not about that event itself but how to incorporate these into our own daily lives.
The victory of light over darkness should also be the story of our own lives and this is one of the reasons we are incarnated here in the first place. Our souls are learning lessons every day and one of the most important of these lessons is this. Let light shine in and through your lives.
When bad things happen to us, we often question fate, destiny and even God. “Why me?” We often ask. But these are moments in our life that teach us the most. If it were not for the ‘dark’ moments in life we would never grow as human beings. Difficult situations happen to us and they happen to everyone. There is no point in blaming others or destiny. These moments are meant for us to experience and learn from.
Without darkness there would be only light and nothing else. No picture would form. There would be nothing to see. No contrast. We need various levels of light and shade for any image to form. The same is the case between darkness and light in the metaphysical or spiritual sense. They can exist without each other but it is in the mixing of them that our creation exists.
Instead of asking “Why me?” when bad things happen, a better question is: “Why not me?” Isn’t it more profitable spiritually for us to experience a ‘bad’ thing and grow from it then to just keep on living a life with no challenges? Life without challenges or conflict is like a poorly written novel. No conflict means no story.
Everyone has difficulties. Just because someone has more money, fame, power or relationships than you do doesn’t mean that they do not have problems. Everyone has their own problems but they are different.
But what does all of this have to do with how celebrating festivals of light should be about our lives? The darkness within us is doubt, fear, prejudice, greed, hatred and so on. We have all read this a million times perhaps. But here is the point. The light comes into our lives not when these things disappear but it is in our correct handling of them that light becomes more powerful.
No matter who you are, darkness can enter into you. It is in how you deal with that darkness that determines how much light comes into you to fight the darkness. Everyone can be tempted—Jesus and Buddha were both tempted by darkness. Their light shined brighter as they were able to overcome the temptations.
We all fight a daily battle within us. There is a constant battle between good and evil within us. It is always about fighting temptations. But temptation is not always what it seems to be.
Temptation isn’t always about controlling yourself from doing something. It is also about how you think about and deal with hardships. More subtle temptations exist that you may not even have ever realised or acknowledged before. For example, the temptation to blame others for your own perceived misfortune, the temptation to hate others before even knowing their background or circumstances, the temptation to procrastinate and be lazy, the temptation to think you are better than everyone, the temptation to think you are worse than everyone, the temptation to think it is someone else’s responsibility to help make the world better, the temptation to be lonely and have self pity and so on.
These subtler temptations are the darkness and many others like them. They are hidden and not seen. When the ‘light’ of awareness and realisation falls on darkness, the latter is revealed and exposed. That is when they can be dispelled.
The eternal battle between light and darkness is traditionally thought of a battle of good vs evil. But it can equally be between ignorance vs awareness, dependency vs independency, sadness vs happiness, doubt vs confidence, giving up vs trying again, loving yourself vs dependency on others, and so on.
This list could go on forever. But that is what light and darkness is about. It is about constantly discovering and realising things and learning how to overcome the negative thoughts and energy and replace them with positive thoughts and positive energy. It is about realising that everything happens for a reason and we are meant to learn from it.
There isn’t a better example than the year we are living in today: 2020. It has been a game-changing year. The global pandemic has changed our lives, forced us into quarantine, kept us in one place pretty much, economies have shut down temporarily, many have fallen sick and unfortunately died. It seems like a dark year.
But let some light into the picture please!
For every one person who died, 95 or so have recovered. For every day that you were locked indoors you must have had some time to contemplate. For every moment away from office was a moment with your family. For every moment lost in travelling the world was a moment that you could have looked inwards into your soul. Lost business and job revenues plenty, but also new opportunities for a new world. For every day that pollution could have grown, clean air emerged, twinkling stars and snow clad mountains could be seen from the plains. So suddenly it seems like a year full of promise, a year full of light.
Let your light always dispel your darkness. Wishing you all a happy Diwali.
Prashant Solomon is a Delhi-based businessman and author.