Being the Light

There’s so much brilliance over this weekend as the Festival of Lights, Deepavali, is upon us. Someone wished us for the festive season saying, “May there be Light”!  We may wonder if such a greeting really means anything or is it plain wordsmithing?
Let me share what I think is the essence of this expression.
Almost all our benchmarks for success are material. Even a festival like Deepavali is about wearing new clothes and lighting up our external environment (sadly polluting it with ghastly sound and smoke). So, while there is every effort to brighten our lives from the outside, there is very rarely, and too little, focus on looking within. Which is why despite our houses being illuminated, despite all the new “things” that we buy to decorate our lives with, there’s still an incompleteness in our hearts. There are many of us who continue to be unhappy, Deepavali after Deepavali, year after year! And our lives continue to be dark – with insecurity, anxiety, worry and fear. The only way to really drive away the darkness in us is to find the light within.
You don’t have to search for that light. You just have to look within and you will find it. But how can you look within? Are you to tear your body up and search for your soul? Now, “looking within” is not an abstract concept. I have learned that when we stop being self-centered and start looking for opportunities to serve, we will have begun the journey inward. All our grooming has been to become successful in Life. So, we look outward all the time. And seek success, fame, wealth, and unfortunately, happiness and peace too, outside of us. While we may find everything else outside, be sure, we won’t find happiness and peace through any of our material pursuits. We will be happy only when we shift the paradigm – when we stop trying to be successful and instead be useful!
A classmate of mine is a great example of one who has shifted this paradigm admirably, and has, possibly, found the light within. While all of us chased ‘normal, remunerative’ careers, Ravi invested himself in serving social causes. He hasn’t ever looked for any material returns for himself in whatever he does and focuses only on goading the lethargic bureaucracy and the corrupt political system in India from inaction to action! Getting things done in India can be discouraging, draining and hopeless. But Ravi powers onward, unflaggingly, with the same intensity that he had when he started, over two decades ago, driving social change. And that, to me, is because of him being selfless. There’s never, it appears, a ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’ question in his Life. That sense of selflessness and purpose is really what “finding the light” and “being it” means!
Each of us can be the light too. And therefore find happiness and inner peace. We don’t have to do much. We just have to stop looking outward and seeking satisfaction with what pleases our senses. We have to start by trying to be useful than wanting to be successful alone. We have to look for ways to serve, than merely say that we deserve.