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Digging Down to Our Inner Light
This week, three separate people told me that if reincarnation is a fact, they have no intention of coming back. I remember feeling this way myself. I may have even said the words. Life appears to be painful and fraught. We put up with a lot in these bodies. We’re tired.
In what may seem to be a divergence, come with me back into parenting class. Back in my day, the term, “attachment parenting” was a buzzword. There seemed to be a lot of confusion about what it meant, but I heard it (and taught it) as choosing parenting techniques and tools that enhanced connection. It meant choosing words and actions that promoted my sense of acceptance and a strong sense of belonging for the children. It meant learning to celebrate our children’s uniqueness and choosing our actions to express our love and admiration for that uniqueness.
Some people heard the term as promoting clinginess and dependency. Such are words.
In learning to express love and celebration of my children more fully, I had to learn to look beyond their behavior. Not look past it as in giving it a pass or not holding them accountable. But to look beyond it, beneath it, to the motivating impulses that drove it. Not to be attached to the behavior and focusing on it, but to attach to the child within the behavior. What were the needs that inspired that particular behavior? And how could we work together to meet those needs, maybe without further annoying or dangerous behavior?
Looking beyond and beneath, it appears, has been a lifelong habit of mine. It is one I imagined we all shared, but I have observed, over time, that we don’t.
In parenting, it was the same issue with the idea of self-esteem. There were those who imagined that children who behaved selfishly or cruelly had too much self-esteem and should be brought down a peg. I think that if my own parents had given any thought to a “parenting philosophy,” they might have felt aligned with this knock-them-off-their-pedestal theory.
If we look beneath any selfish or cruel behavior, though, we don’t find high self-esteem. Just the opposite, in fact. We find a layer of fear and hurt and unworthiness and shame, which add up to very low self-esteem. If this is where we stop looking, we will clearly make assumptions ourselves about the worthiness of this person. If this is where we stop looking, it makes sense that we should use any behavioristic technique available to control the behavior that comes from this dark place inside.
This has been our approach in too many cases. We don’t like this stratum of our consciousness. It is uncomfortable to see in others, and we avoid it in ourselves. So, we don’t dig into it. We don’t try to see what lies beneath it.
But let’s think of this like the layer of manure we spread on the lawn. Beneath the stinky stuff is a rich soil filled with life. If we look beyond the stink and beneath the appearance, what might we find?
In a child (in any human actually) beneath the layer of fear, shame, unworthiness, and hurt, we will find harmony, love, and joy. We will find a being who wants meaningful connection with others (authentic attachment). We will find a person who loves to create and collaborate. When a person can realize this about themselves, we find a being with ultra-high self-esteem who never needs to behave cruelly or selfishly.
In Western culture, it’s hard for us to understand the idea that goodness lurks beneath the surface because we deeply fear what lies below our fleeting glances. The religious idea that we are sinners at the core permeates a lot of our thinking. Don’t look too deep, or you’ll uncover the rot. This idea underlies our approach to education, to moral or religious teaching, to our governmental and judicial systems, and even to our medical science which assumes that sickness is lurking beneath the surface.
Because we fear looking deeply at ourselves, other people, and the world at large, we skip along the surface barely touching down. Keeping up appearances. Pulling ourselves again and again into the status quo. It is exhausting. But it’s not exhausting because we dig too deep. It’s exhausting because we don’t dig deeply enough. We don’t dig through the layer of manure. We never find the light within. We exhaust ourselves through our constant avoidance of feeling our way through the manure to the life within.
Why do we come here with this propensity to hide from our own light? Why do we shy away from penetrating the layer of pain? Our salvation and fulfillment surely lie there in that deeper part of ourselves. This is a wonderful, eternal question that many have tried to answer. I, myself, have spent many hours in contemplation of this. I have considered our social pressure to never feel pain. I have thoughts about the nature of DNA and about the nature of perception and the role it plays in creation. I have learned and devised and used many tools to work my way through the pain stratum. All of that has been fun, but today, I’m suggesting that we not struggle for years digging through the manure. I’m suggesting that we dive directly in and create the habit of thought that actively seeks out the underlying light within us.
We know, from psychological studies of the placebo effect and the self-fulfilling prophesy effect, that we will find evidence to support our basic hypothesis. If we actively look for the love, peace, joy, harmony, and order that lie in the center of our being, we will find irrefutable evidence of it.
You will most likely find some resistance to discovering your inner light. You might feel afraid of the sense of power that comes from that light. You may feel afraid of where the light might take you. You may feel like you don’t have the strength or resources to handle that much energy. You may deeply believe that you don’t deserve to be this being of light. You may simply not believe that the light is there. You may feel like you’re cheating somehow if you allow this light to get stronger in your awareness. You may feel the need to hide your light so as to make other people comfortable. You might find that in your subconscious mind, you hold judgments about people you have seen who access their inner power and light. (Filthy rich, arrogant, greedy, self-centered, egotistical, uncaring…) All of these thoughts constitute resistance to simply opening to our inner light.
Yet, the light is there, within each of us. All we have to do to find it is to turn toward it and get curious about it. The best part is, that as we increase our commitment to the light, all the digging around in the manure becomes unnecessary. The light itself integrates all those stinky nutrients for us.
The world is not as it seems. It is not evil or failing or disharmonious, or violent. Look beyond. Search until you find the love that underlies. Search for the light you can see through any apparent situation or person. As you peer beyond and beneath appearances, you will find it. Once you develop the habit of finding and celebrating the light, you will no longer feel exhausted or burdened by the world. You will feel eager for each day, for each moment, and maybe for many lifetimes to come.