The Shekinah and the Season of Light
As we enter the fourth week—the halfway mark of our fundraising campaign—I am delighted to note that it also marks the day of the Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year is often troubling for some people; the darkness can be a bit of a physical and emotional drain during the weeks to either side of it, but it also means that we experience an understanding of the cycles of life: everything has its peaks and valleys, its light and its dark. By first recognizing this, and then actually seeing it in our daily lives, it becomes easier to go with the flow of events rather than to be swept aside by them. It also means that our unquenchable desire to attempt to control events around us—either by force or by magic—is more “useless” than we would like to believe. “Useless” in the sense that we often try to control the things we can't through failure to stop and see life as it is—rather than as we want it to be—and then act according to the situation we REALLY have before us, instead of the fantasy in our mind.
Yes, it is dark—so light a candle and deal with it! As the story from the Talmud (that inspired Kipling's poem about the words of wisdom surrounding Solomon's ring of power) so clearly expresses, “This too shall pass.” Or as my great-uncle Edward Tischler would often say, “The only thing permanent is change.” Learning to deal with change is learning to deal with life as it is; only then can our esoteric practices be effective and bring us to deep inner realization.
With the coming of the holiday season, we look to history and mythic-history for inspiration, the common ideal being the presence of Light in the Darkness—how this light incarnates, takes form, and is active in the physical world. You see, the light does not simply exist, it DOES SOMETHING. This is not something passive either; it is always stretching the boundaries of conceptual existence. In Hanukkah, the oil that would only last for one day miraculously lasted for eight; as a result, the LIGHT increased. What was seen as impossible was made possible—and the Light increased.
The Christian legends have it that Jesus was born miraculously—a story similar to that of the origins of Padmasambhava, the Lotus Born Guru who established Buddhism in Tibet—and with his birth, the intangible light of the Ain Soph Aur was made incarnate in the world, fully man and fully divine, so that the light could be seen and take action, not simply exist in a state of blissful detachment (like certain states of negative Nirvana) or even ignorance. “He who sees me sees the Father” is the scriptural affirmation of that reality. It is right here and right now, but it isyou who must recognize it—here again, the scriptural support is perceived as Jesus asks, “Who do they say I am?” When Peter gets the right answer, he is affirmed.
Do you see the the Divine Presence, the Shekinah, in your day-to-day life? Do you do something, or (at times better yet) do nothing, so that this awareness can arise within you? And when it is there, what do you do with it?
Back to the Light...
I had an interesting conversation a few days ago with one of the organizers of a special event. They had been working for several years to establish a spiritual community in their locale with little effect. Numerous qualified teachers were brought in, almost always at the organizer's expense, holding classes often for free and open to the public, only to find that people would gladly fill the seat, but not the coffers to pay for it. Despite this, the organizer continued to hold events hoping that one day the attendees might wake up and see “the light”—that they would become involved in organizing events, form a bi-weekly practice group, and perhaps even pay their own way and “carry their own weight,” so to speak.
But none of this happened.
As the organizer ultimately put it: “This simply doesn't happen. You need a benefactor, a patron of some kind to make this happen. Without the 'dog and pony' show and the constant stimulation and exotic promises, no one shows up. This is just too much work for no return—I quit.” Who was I to disagree? And how? The scripture says not to throw pearls before swine, and to preach the good news, but to “wipe the dust from your feet” and leave if there is no interest or support. Our person saw things as they are, tried to change it, and, despite commentary to the contrary, chose not to assist. Change is inevitable—but it can also be very slow. Use your time wisely; know what you can do and DO IT. Make a difference where and when you can, rather than waiting for the perfect time, or the perfect circumstances, or the perfect project (that never arrives). Maybe the motto of modern occultism should be “Do What You Can Right Now” rather than “Do as thou wilt is the whole of the Law.” (We will keep the “love is the whole of the law” part.)
That is the candle in the darkness.
If we look at scriptures, we see that the average person was busy going about their daily business, too busy to assist: “No room at the Inn.” It was only in the wild and abandoned places—be it a manger or a grotto—that those who lived on the fringes of society, the shepherds (people of the animals, Shiva's entourage) and the Magi (the spiritual elite of the Silk Road, and the pinnacle of Middle Eastern culture and learning), helped to “midwife” the birth of a Savior into the world.
You see, it is no different today. Despite all of the cries of democracy and esotericism, in truth, genuine spirituality, genuine (effective and positively life-changing) initiation is and always has been—and will be—for a self-selected few. Why? Ask the inn-keeper that question and listen to what answer he gives you. The inn-keeper is neither evil nor bad, he is simply pre-occupied with the labor of the day, as are his patrons, traveling to fulfill obligations the overarching military state of the Roman Empire has imposed upon them—participation in the census. By accident or design, it is easy to get distracted by daily life if “scraping by” is what you are doing, or not stopping long enough to remember what Christmas, Hanukkah, or the various Solstice celebrations are really about: Illumination...Peace Profound, a peace only you can discover within yourself and encourage others to discover as well.
This inner peace is not simply stillness, but a still and solid focal point around which an infinity of action is taking place. This peace is not an escape from the World of Action; rather, it is its very source—it is the light shining forth from the cosmic womb.
With the new year upon us, and with your assistance, I will be completing the two publishing projects Child of the Sun and Sea of Sapphire. At this time I am personally inviting each of you to assist in these activities of light, and others that we may bring to your attention in the early months of 2015.
On behalf of the IHS Study Guides publishing team, we wish you the happiest of holidays, in this the Season of Light.