Illumination

Last week we enjoyed an evening out with friends at the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise where we attended the 10th annual Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza.

This vibrant musical production raises funds for the Interfaith Sanctuarya collaboration of people who have joined together to shelter and serve individuals experiencing homelessness.

While waiting with the sold-out crowd for the doors to open, we enjoyed the myriad of LIGHT all around us, a reminder that even in the most challenging of times, so much good is possible in this world.

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Light is something each of us can be. Joined together, our combined light offers possibility, opportunity, and the promise of a better tomorrow.

I find it not-at-all coincidental that the word light is prominent within the word enLIGHTenment. There are probably as many definitions of enlightenment as there are people. Here’s mine:

“Enlightenment is recognizing that we’re all connected, then consciously living that realization—our thoughts, words, and actions an unshakable reflection of that understanding.”
—Laurie Buchanan

Do you let your light shine?

© Laurie Buchanan

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60 thoughts on “Illumination

  1. I like your definition of enlightenment, Laurie.
    It seems like I’ve seen a great many posts on light recently (including my own). I don’t know if there are more than usual for this time of year, or if I’m just noticing them. In any case, it seems that many people are trying to shine light–and hope to enlighten and be enlightened.
    It’s still dark here this morning at 6:40 AM and the rain is pouring down. I’m hoping for sunlight soon. 🙂

  2. Your definition speaks to me as a spiritual definition of illumination. It’s so powerful. It reminds us, we each can be a light to others. I love the equality of that reality. We don’t have to look far to be a light for others. One small act of kindness sparks another and then ignites another. I have a small LED flashlight (slightly bigger than the palm of my hand). As we know they are quite bright. I am envisioning thousands, tens of thousands of those little lights (symbolically representing those acts of light) … we could light up towns and hearts around the world in this way. I find opportunities every day … a dollar in the kettle; a gift of food to the local food bank; a call to a friend who’s down; sending healing energy to a love one undergoing surgery; celebrating the end of my niece’s cancer treatments with others bringing their love and joy; caring for the birds in winter … so many ways to share our light.
    Thank you too for your acts of kindness and light to me this week. I am warmed by them.

    • Audrey — You’re absolutely right about the magnificent domino effect: “One small act of kindness sparks another and then ignites another.”

      Take care my friend. I’m watching the weather in your area and YOWZA!

  3. Gosh, yes! There are too many ways to enumerate but I can use this simple illustration: one should not hide their light under a bushel. We are told that we are to be “The Light of the World, a city on a hill that cannot be hid.” Plain enough.

  4. Wonderful place to visit there Laurie and no doubt one for the memory banks. This entire philosophy reminds me of a recent picture book “Oskar and the Eight Blessings” which projects the same kind of hope and good vibes. I do try and embrace that mindset as much as possible indeed. Happy New Year to you and Len!

  5. I do understand that light is important. Yet without the dark we would not appreciate it as much. Darkness has a lot to teach us.
    I think in today’s world we are trying so hard to fill every day with activity, every corner with stuff. What would happen if we took time to be alone, in the dark?
    Don’t be afraid. Be still. Listen. Think.
    Wishing all a very happy 2016.

  6. I have definitely been on a high-glow setting for weeks Laurie. I even painted the Christmas Day Full moonrise. Now that was bright! Today’s work was a full sunshine postcard size painting of a west coast trail for the #twitterArtExhibit fundraiser. And AND I have my new word for the year. This 2016 year my world shall be “curious” to get it off to a healthy start I signed up for an 18 month Harvard course about the History of China. So there we go – practicing the practice of illumination! 😉

  7. I love your definition of light Laurie . My favourite Christmas card this year was a beautiful handmade one from my yoga teacher . It was a photo of a mandala she had made on the beach and the words inside the card was ‘ I wish you peace and light ‘ I loved it .
    I do not let enough light shine on me Laurie but in the year 2016 light will pour from every pore . I wish you peace and light my friend .
    😊Cherryx

  8. Hi Laurie

    I have a slightly different definition of enlightenment, and yours is part of it.

    For me enlightenment means bringing light, in all dimensions.
    For me, light means being able to “see” what is there, as distinct from the stories about what is there that we get from our culture.
    For me, a big part of seeing is being willing to question everything, to learn enough of all the tools of observation and analysis that I can make useful modifications to the model of reality in my head that is my experiential reality.

    Part of that is seeing that we are all connected in many different ways.
    We can also be separate in many different ways.
    We can be cooperative.
    We can be competitive.

    It seems that we are primed by evolution to be highly cooperative in times of plenty, and highly competitive in times of scarcity.

    We seem to have adopted a societal model of value in our market based system of money that is fundamentally based in scarcity, and actually has no value for any universal abundance.

    This basis in scarcity has a tendency to force people into competitive modes, rather than encouraging people into cooperative behaviour.

    There can be a place for money, and it needs to be outside the domain of survival needs – they need to be guaranteed to everyone, no exceptions – including education and healthcare and housing and communications (as well as the obvious needs of air, water and food).

    So yeah – I shine my light into nooks and crannies that most others leave alone, I shine it in the dark and unexplored places, I shine it on the obvious things and ask why are they obvious – and what I see often is far from what most others see.

    Then I do what I can to share as much of the information as possible with others, which is another aspect of light.

    In one of the deepest senses, Einstein revealed to us that light is essentially packets of information frozen in time, that give us the illusion of time we have.
    The deeper world of the very tiny, the world of the quantum, is very strange indeed.

    So Yes – I am all for light, and enlightenment, and cooperation in the deepest of senses.
    We are all extremely complex beings, far more reliant on cooperation than we are on competition.

    Our social structures need to change from the current myopic focus on competition, to one that focuses on the many levels of cooperation present and required. One of the higher levels of cooperation is essentially captured in the word “love”.

    And we must never forget that raw cooperation is vulnerable to cheats. It is the duty of all of us, who wish to sustain cooperation (Love) to punish cheats, neither too harshly nor too softly, but just enough to remove all the benefit they made by cheating, plus a little bit more, then welcome them back to the cooperative. If the punishment does not fit the crime, to very tight tolerances, then it breaks the system. Robert Axelrod did some amazing work on this from the Games Theory perspective, and Elinor Ostrom did a huge amount of work on the same subject from an economic perspective, and the sorts of stable social systems that can and have evolved, if it is done well.

    Fascinating subject!

    • Ted — I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comment. Fascinating subject, indeed! There are many to extract, but to extract a single sentence and say “spot on” I choose: “This basis in scarcity has a tendency to force people into competitive modes, rather than encouraging people into cooperative behavior.” I applaud that you’re working to eliminate this issue. Thank you for shining your light in places that others dare not go. I appreciate YOU! 🙂

  9. Oh, the wonder of light. It’s the glory of the stars that draw us toward heaven. It’s the substance of words the lead us to wisdom. It is the essence of the Divine. It fuels the hope of better things, higher goals and worthier aspirations for all. But most of all it’s the source of wonder. And if I wonder how you are and shine my light toward you, perhaps you’ll wonder how I am and shine your light toward me.

  10. Laurie…
    Just stopping into say thank you for “illuminating” numerology on your site. Your posts on the Life Paths have enLIGHTened me. I found you on Lynne Morgan Spreen’s blog and have been “quietly” enJOYing your site ever since.
    Sue

  11. I want to, but I usually put some kind of self-limiting shadow of protection over my light…before someone else can cast shadows of doubt or the mud of criticism all over me. Does that make any sense at all?

    • TimelessLady — I do, indeed, hear what you’re saying. What I’d like to suggest is that you don’t allow yourself to be held hostage by the opinion of others. The only opinion that truly matters is your own.

      • Great advice! I find it easy to form a determination to do this…but not so easy to achieve in real life. It’s always wrapped up in being reluctant to rock the boat…but then, if Peter hadn’t rocked the boat when he got out…he wouldn’t have walked on water.

      • TimelessLady — Your comment about Peter rocking the boat and walking on water has put a great big smile on my face. Here’s to Boat Rockers everywhere! 🙂

  12. Love your definition Laurie! Sometimes in the darkness of this world all around us it is very hard to find that inner light. At times I force that light to shine even when I have no desire to do so as it’s a sign of hope to me and for my children. Hope for a better world and better life. That light, like so many other things in your being, is something you must choose to make shine. It’s something no one can take away from you unless you choose to let them. So shine on it will!!!! Another great post!! Tina

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