“What is important for a movie? Both – light to make it; darkness to show it. The minute you learn to respect and see both sides of the coin as equally good, you can enjoy both. It is only a matter of understanding and acceptance. Let us have that light of understanding. Accept things as they are. Then, life is worth living. The world becomes a heaven on earth for you.”
– Swami Satchidananda
In less than one hour, I’ll teach my annual Diwali-themed yoga class. This Indian holiday is commonly known as the “Festival of Lights,” signifying the triumph of light over darkness. Ancient history tells of a number of battles across the nation ending, with great victories over evil forces. To welcome home the heroic warriors on the dark eve of a New Moon, villagers lit their paths with glowing oil lamps.
Hence the ongoing tradition of celebrating this particular New Moon with lamps, fireworks and other uplifting festivities.
For me, Diwali reminds me of the necessity of both darkness and light.
I used to be very, very scared of the “dark.” The moment a hint of sadness or lowness or depression showed up, I was in action – figuratively lighting my oil lamps to brighten things up. These days, I have found a strength in welcoming times of darkness, struggle, challenge. Not that I like to dwell there for long – I can appreciate a rough patch and at the same time know that I must do some reflection and practice to shed light on its lesson.
So there is a balance. Darkness and light must exist.
As for battles – I will admit that sometime my greatest battle is with myself. Although I have come to be at peace during most of my dark times, there are still situations where my fears can get the best of me. They can lead me into poor choices, rash decisions, intense self-protection. But less and less. Thankfully.
So today, my greatest victory is not when I “win a battle,” but when I surrender my fears and allow the battle to dissolve.
What are your battles? Which have you “won?” Celebrate them tonight! And which have you surrendered from? Celebrate them, too. Recognize your victories. If you are currently in a dark time, have hope for the triumph of light.
‘Tis the season of shortening days. Autumn calls us to enjoy the comfort of candles, fires, warmth. To cultivate our own light. This very natural, womb-like, growing darkness can be an invitation to experience a balance of darkness with light, of light with darkness. Enjoy.