living on a prayer

nurture your inner spark of light

swami radhananda

I am taking a retreat for a few months, in a small, quiet place on the North Sea. It is similar to my ashram home on Kootenay Lake and yet it has a distinct flavour of its own. There are different rhythms to life here — the sea tides and sunrises, the gulls swooping, the winds and their directions, the changing sky.

One morning, early in my retreat, I awoke with the words, “I am searching for thee all over the universe” — a line from a prayer. It was still dark but a few brilliant red sun streaks rose at the horizon. I went quickly down to the beach. Watching the deep scarlet light grow was an awe-inspiring experience. A vibration started in the air and grew into a song. The birds banded together and began to fly with the vibration as if they were helping the sun rise up. Each wave was touched by red sun; the clouds and the air turned to colour, to light.

The prayer that was in my mind that morning begins: “from earth to heaven, I am searching for thee all over the universe…” We are always yearning for ways to connect with the Divine or a higher power, and we want to see evidence, proof. We aren’t able to see the source, but we can see its manifestations. Light is a subtle manifestation of the divine power — and one that is universal to all traditions. It is a symbol, but it also has a physical reality, like the sun that rises each day, its warmth and light sustaining life on this earth.

There is also an inner Light that we can connect to, that sustains our spiritual lives, which is harder to see, but can be visualized as a vortex of light within. It is often difficult for people to acknowledge that they do have divinity within, but this is a crucial part of our spiritual development. It may mean changing your idea of what “spiritual” is, making it more realistic, more human. It may mean accepting that you have goodness within you, and taking responsibility for nurturing your inner spark of Light.

You may want to ask: What would it mean to be sustained by Light? Light sustains that part of us that wants to have a life that is purposeful, meaningful and beneficial. It also cultivates; it is essential to our growth. We can grow into more harmonious, joyful, loving people. If you have an ideal — whether it is to bring harmony, to accept yourself, to really care about others — Light supports growing into who you want to be.

There are many powerful practices to connect to the Light. We can invoke the Light, see it showering down around us, we can meditate on images of the Light, we can see every cell of our bodies filled with Light. It clears things up, like turning on a light, like a sunny day; it opens your eyes and reveals things you have never thought of before. My own experience of engaging in a Divine Light practice is that I had to accept change — change in my self-image, in what I could do, and how I could be. This is not always a comfortable place to be. As you commit to a transformational practice, your ideals and generosity of spirit will be tested. Even as we yearn to be more caring and compassionate, we keep getting caught in our old selves and habits: we want things to go our way, we desire to be noticed, we expect people to do what we say.

On your search for the Divine, tests will come and you will keep making mistakes. But if you are dedicated to making these changes, you become aware of yourself and your actions. So instead of acting blindly, you act with an ideal in mind to be more caring, to accept your human nature. You can make mistakes, but they get smaller; you learn to forgive yourself. The Light sustains you through the process of transformation — you can invoke it, call on it, learn that you have a higher source of clarity and strength.

Over and over, at each stage of life we try to develop the courage to act on faith, to take the next step without knowing the outcome, without controlling how it should be. The Divine Light will sustain us in our journey. And we must sustain the practice. The more you visualize, invoke, meditate on Divine Light, the more it reveals and deepens our understanding that we do have a spark of Light within. We accept we are human and Divine and we return to our practice to sustain us for the next challenge. 

practice: feeding your Higher Self

  1. Fix the image of the sun in your mind’s eye. Now feel its warmth. Can you feel its warmth inside and outside? Be conscious of all these impressions so you can recall them when you need them.
  2. After you are able to feel the Light and warmth all
    over, in your mind’s eye see the Light entering your body through the top of your head and penetrating
    your entire body. Feel the warmth from the Light
    inside and outside.
  3. Fill yourself to overflowing. Give thanks for the Light.

Swami Radhananda is president and spiritual director of Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia, Canada.

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