By Tasha Friedman
Today India is blazing with color and light.
It’s the first day of Diwali, one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains—more than one billion people total—observe these days with prayer, music, food, fireworks, and lamps by the thousand.
The mythological significance of Diwali varies widely across India. Many take the five-day festival to honor Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty and abundance. Others celebrate Krishna, Kali, the return of Sita and Rama from Sri Lanka, or the mahanirvana of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism.
Above all, Diwali is a festival of light. Lamps, candles, and fireworks announce the victory of light over darkness, wisdom over ignorance, and love over hatred.
Humanity is in the midst of dark times. Take one look at the news, and it seems that we are beset by catastrophe on all sides: pandemic, environmental crisis, failing democracies worldwide…
This may be so, but it is not the whole picture.
When we look at the state of the world with fear, of course things look bleak. But if we come with trust, a different perspective might emerge.
Trust is not the same as optimism. It is unproductive and lacking in compassion to deny that we are facing serious problems as a human family and that these will only intensify in the near future unless we take unified global action. Blind positive thinking is avoidance. It’s the flip side of fear, an escape from fully engaging with the Present Moment, hoping that some external force will fix things for us.
Walking the middle path, between hope and fear but free from both, is possible when we are centered in our essence. Faith and trust that from the perspective of the Heart, what we truly are, everything really is and always has been okay. And, it always will be, no matter what happens—even if we and all of humanity are wiped off the face of the Earth today!
Yet from this centeredness, we find the capacity to act for the benefit of all, through whatever avenue life provides.
Never underestimate the power of ordinary people and small acts to influence the entire world.
As the Buddha said, “One candle can light a thousand others.”
Maybe you can’t single-handedly stem the tide of global warming, feed millions of hungry children, replant old-growth forests, or lift the shadow of coronavirus from the world.
But you can offer a smile to a stranger and a hug to a friend who feels alone. You can give your time by volunteering, your money in donations to projects you admire, and your vote when it matters. You can choose love and forgiveness, choose trust, choose to open when everything around you tells you to close yourself off.
You can give your heart to the world. Light your candle, and don’t worry if anyone else does the same. One ray of light can melt a multitude of shadows.
Tasha is a Hridaya Yoga teacher and a frequent contributor to our blog. You can read all of her posts here.