Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent. It's a time when the whole Christian world begins the month- long process of celebrating the fact that a new force can enter our world. That the old order can be turned upside down and a new one established.
Christ called on us all to become open to an inner light. We remember His birth as an occasion of Joy because of His message to all mankind that everyone can become available to this light of God.
Christians aren't the only ones who cultivate this practice. The Buddhists refer to enlightenment- the process of becoming filled with light. The Mevlevi Dervishes whirl not just to pray, but because they understand they have a sacred duty to bring light down into the world from above. The Jews celebrate Chanukah, the festival of lights.
This idea, it seems, is shared by most of mankind, and it offers us all hope- hope that things can improve, that the dirty little crevices of darkness we all covet and carry around inside us can be illuminated, then swept clean with a broom made of sturdy twigs. All of this to leave room inside us for something much bigger than ourselves.
The idea even goes a bit deeper than that. Suns are the engines of creation. All of the elements in the universe begin as hydrogen, which in the vast nuclear crucibles of suns are fused into the heavier elements.
Creating an inner sun within ourselves is analogous. We can literally begin to create new substances in our bodies which are, under ordinary circumstances, either completely lacking or in very short supply. This is important, because in order to erect a more durable and useful inner structure, we're going to need all those additional elements. If all we have in us is that elemental hydrogen, we're basically nothing more than bags of hot air.
It's often helpful to me to understand by analogy in this manner. It helps me to form a deeper sense of the absolute interconnectedness of all things, and of how every level of the universe works in a similar way : from suns to bodies to cells, everything engaged in one perpetual act of creation.
There is no destruction. Everything we call "destruction" is just transformation, as new states continuously emerge from old ones.
When speaking of this unity, Dogen once said, "In the great way of going beyond, no endeavor is complete without being one with myriad things. This is ocean mudra samadhi." ("Beyond Thinking," p. 78, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi, Shambala Publications 2004)
When we open our eyes, we all find our dwelling place in this ever-emergent ocean of truth and light.
I hope December affords us all myriad opportunities to open ourselves ever more deeply to this light and to love, and to share the gift of life as openly as possible with others.