The knowledge that illuminates not only sets you free,
but also shows you clearly that you already are free.
--- A Course in Miracles
Webster’s defines illuminate as “to give light to; to light up; to make clear.” The very next entry down the page, we find the word illusion, defined as “a false idea or conception; an unreal or misleading image or appearance.”
While it is important to accept and learn from our pain and suffering, what can we do to stop creating so darned much of it!? How can we change our personal and global energy and environment to help illuminate the illusions, and therefore eradicate our suffering?
The Path to End Suffering
The Buddha taught that misperception causes much pain in our world, and that we all suffer. Both Patanjali and the Buddha believed we could curtail future anguish by following certain steps.
The Noble Eightfold Path, as taught by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, describes the path to end suffering: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
The “right” in this sense is not a judgment as in good or bad, but rather that which serves us, helps us awaken, and stops creating future suffering. It is a practical guideline to mental development, aimed at freeing us from attachments and delusions. The ultimate goal is realizing the truth in all things. The Eightfold Path makes up the heart of Buddhism, together with the Four Noble Truths:
1. Suffering is part of life.
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2. Attachment and grasping cause suffering.
3. We can end suffering.
4. The Eightfold Path can liberate us from suffering.
The Eightfold Path has some overlap with the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which include: yamas (behavior in the world, such as nonviolence and honesty), niyamas (personal codes of conduct, such as nutrition, self study, and prayer), asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breath regulation), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses -- coming home to the body), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation, or absorption), and samadhi (bliss or super consciousness). Both Buddhists and Yogis teach that we can dispel suffering by illuminating our illusions.
Practicing Attention and Intention
Again and again, we practice attention and intention. We decide that if there is something we are ignoring, that if all of us humans have limited vision so to speak, we hold an intention of waking up. With practice, we open our mind, eye, and heart to the truth of who we are and what we are here to do. We listen, for the universe will show us how. Rumi said, “There is a way between voice and presence where information flows. In disciplined silence, it opens. With wandering talk it closes.”
As you seek a path through the world of delusion, you can start to notice: Do Buddhist principles help? Does yoga work? Attending Unity, Interfaith, or other churches? Does Christianity touch my soul? Islam? No-ism? What awakens, stirs me to deeper meaning, so that the confusion is no longer overwhelming, but just a passing wave, like the many thoughts that cross the mind?
When Light Encounters Darkness...
Our Presence illuminates. There is no darkness that our own conscious awareness cannot brighten and lighten. When light encounters darkness, light wins. Imagine being inside the biggest indoor stadium; if you light one tiny match, all that darkness cannot extinguish it.
This is not an all-or-nothing experience or concept. We all have dimmer switches, most of which are turned way down due to worries and wounds. But our collective dimmer switch is rising, making it easier and safer for each of us to risk raising our personal energy level. As we grow accustomed to ever more light, the shift from ignorance and illusion to magnificence and illumination accelerates. On Earth at this very moment, we are moving into a wonderful era where what is hidden becomes visible, and what needs healing will become apparent.
Shining the Light of Our Awareness
We eliminate our ignorance and suffering by illuminating it. We shine the light of our awareness, the brilliance of our own conscious presence, onto and into all areas of ourselves and our lives. We come to see the changing nature of this material world, and remember the deepest, Divine Reality that surrounds and penetrates it, that which we are.
By persistent and sustained practice, anyone and everyone can make the yoga journey and reach the goal of illumination and freedom. Krishna, Buddha, and Jesus lie in the hearts of all. --- B.K.S. Iyengar
- Practice slowing down and being more present: Allow the light of your conscious presence into your daily activities.
- Take a few deep breaths, noticing the four parts of breath: in breath, pause, out breath, pause.
- Imagine an open flow of clear communication and light down through the energy center at the top of your head (crown chakra). Feel the whole body brighten and lighten. Ask the universe to guide you to whatever you need to know.
Reprinted with permission of the author Roy Holman,
Holman Health Connections. ©2010 by Roy Holman.
Healing Self, Healing Earth: Awakening Presence, Power, and Passion
by Roy Holman.
About the Author
Roy Holman is a certified Yoga, Meditation, and Healing Instructor who has been teaching personal growth and Earth stewardship for over ten years and leads retreats to Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Sedona, and in his home state of Washington. Roy also spent several years abroad doing human rights work in Central America. Visit his website at www.holmanhealthconnections.com.