Our society considers scientific rationalism to be the highest ideal. To be able to be detached from the vagaries of the world and observe it carefully and work out ideas and beliefs from what we see. We call this the light of reason.
But this is not the light within. We are mistaken if we, on reaching the light within, immediately start to analyse what we see, to be observers of the light such that we end up looking for what the light is telling us, rather than what the light is showing us.
We must stay with the light and engage with the light. The first thing that will happen is that we will feel the presence of the light: this feeling may be troubling or uplifting to our heart; our bellies may tighten in anger or sag in despair; we may feel passionate or impotent: we must stay engaged with the what the light is showing us, with all of our body, immersed in the light and waiting to see the action required of us. We must learn not to become detached and start observing as though from a distance. This is a discipline: it take time and effort, especially as we have been trained by our society that the best way to find out what we must do is to be detached and rational in our minds.
Ideas and beliefs, values and principles, do not change the world. People do. And people need to be motivated to act. If we let our values and principle inform our motives, we will be burdened with guilt and inadequacy and as likely as not to miss-apply our motives and destroy where we thought we were creating. Ideas and beliefs arise from previous action in the world – we need to discover the action required of us today, and have the appropriate motives to carry it through.
The light within will show us the motives we need to effect change in the world. Creativity comes from the light, not from ourselves. So when the light shows us the world as it is, no matter how disturbing, we need to stay with the emotional response the light gives us, and remember how this feels, for it is this response that will truly motivate us, not by force of will, but by engagement in action.
And having engaged in action, we can then reflect on what we have been shown, and share with others how it went for us, and see how are ideas and beliefs are changed; how are values and principle have been informed. But because we have been motivated to action from within, this sharing will not take the form of debate and argument, but instead we will tell stories, and we will hear the stories of others, and so we will testify to the world.
Yet our Quaker testimony will be upheld - though it may be expressed differently – for the light within shows us the one and eternal truth that some call God and others the divine, and others the Christ, and others Nirvana, whilst others will not name it at all, for fear of thinking about it as an object to be observed rather than the basis of our whole being.
The Way of Practice
3 weeks ago