J A N U A R Y
In a decade or two, maybe less, I will no longer exist. That may be true for you too, though you may have a bit longer. Our lives are like little flowers blossoming on the mountainside, appearing beautifully, and then they’re gone.
You may feel, as I do, that not only do you want to enjoy the time you have left, but that you also want to offer something back to this world that made you — this world you are a part of — so that your existence here will have been, in some small way, of benefit.
This feeling of wanting to give back can charge your life with meaning and blessing, but it can also be a curse. It can be a curse especially if you look around at your life and see only its limitations. If you feel you don’t have the options, position, energy or charisma to offer something of value to the world, then you can end up feeling useless and small.
But the truth is you are not small. None of us are. We may be like little flowers on the mountainside that will soon disappear, but that’s not the whole story. Even if it seems your life is limited in its outward scope and influence, there is something alive in you of much greater scope and influence.
You can directly sense what I mean by following a few simple steps: (1) pause; stop trying to solve any problem; (2) bring your attention to the center of your chest; (3) sense the living presence that is gathered there — in the middle of your chest — sense its livingness; (4) using your intuition, without applying any mental pressure, notice that the quality of that living presence in your chest is like an invisible light, a silent radiance.
That radiance is your gift. It may be unsteady or it may be strong, depending on the confidence of your love. In one way it represents the sum total of all the impressions you have received in your life and what you have done with them; it reveals if the pleasure you have experienced, and the suffering, has nurtured self-obsession, or compassion.
If you sense the invisible light in your chest is weak or unsteady, you can change that. It’s not easy, but you can do it. The most important thing is to realize that it’s possible to do, right in this moment. No matter what hardships you have endured, you can do it — nothing prevents you but your belief. The invisible radiance that emanates from you is one of the most powerful healing gifts you can offer to the world.
That may sound on the surface like a spiritual fantasy, but what I’m speaking of is as real and effective as any outward action you might take. I’m not saying that outward action is not important, of course it is, but this “light” that comes from you also has the power to change and heal. It enters the zeitgeist — the spirit of the times — directly and continuously. It touches those around you without your saying or doing anything. And if your options for “giving back” are limited by your situation or your health, the potency of your heart light is not. As Rumi said it: “Be the person who, when you enter the room, luck goes to the one who needs it most.”
A friend of mine, a psychotherapist, once told me about an extraordinary man he had known named Anthony (Tony) Sutich. Tony had been a pioneer, along with Abraham Maslow and others, in the development of humanistic psychology in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, and had been instrumental in creating the field of transpersonal psychology. He founded both the Journal of Humanistic Psychology and later, the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. He was a mystic, a psychotherapist, a social activist, and had a profound effect on all who met him.
This was extraordinary because Tony had been hit by a bat during a baseball game when he was twelve, and was almost completely paralyzed for the rest of his life. My friend described to me what it was like to be in Tony’s presence. When he’d visit him, Tony would be lying propped up in bed, only able to tilt his head, speak through clenched teeth, and move one of his hands. Yet from him there radiated such love — my friend actually described it as light — that everyone present was transformed by it. They felt accepted, loved, and inspired.
Of course, Tony Sutich was a brilliant and exceptional man. But the radiance that came from him is something each of us has naturally. We can sense it in our heart, and nourish it in our being every moment, even now.