Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Lights

Tomorrow is Halloween, one of the world’s oldest holidays. Celebrations during Halloween involve imagery steeped in mystery, magic and certain superstitions. Carving pumpkins or jack-o’-lanterns is something that kids and adults enjoy. Over the ages, traditions and beliefs associated with Halloween have evolved. Symbolism is important during this holiday. Since mind and spirit are intangibles, symbolism may sometimes help unravel the mysteries of the mind. 

In making a jack-o’-lantern, the innards of a pumpkin, consisting mainly of its seeds, are taken out, a face is carved out, and a lamp is placed inside. When the seeds of a pumpkin are taken out and dried, they cannot sprout into a pumpkin plant. The mind can be thought of as a pumpkin, and the pumpkin seeds as the constituent thoughts in the mind. Just as seeds have the potential to grow into trees, thoughts have the potential to turn into actions. These actions in turn germinate more thoughts and the cycle goes on and on. One may be predisposed to light and cheerful moods or dark and heavy moods. Whatever one's mood may be, it is hard to escape them. Thoughts influencing actions and actions in turn influencing thoughts are the roots behind our mental makeup.

When we are swirling in the vortex created by our thoughts, how can one divine the deeper mysteries of life? Light symbolises life. Sun, the ultimate source of light and energy for all of us is a very visible symbol of this. It is easy to see the vibrancy of life in diverse plant, animal and human forms all around the planet. We are walking, talking life forms and can intuitively feel the presence of life within ourselves, but cannot see it. Just as one cannot see the light from a lamp placed in an uncarved pumpkin full of seeds, the mind and thoughts form a barrier that prevents us from seeing the reality within ourselves.

From a physiological perspective, the part of the brain that “controls” life within ourselves as measured by breathing, heart rate and blood pressure is the Medulla Oblongata. From birth to death, the vital, life preserving functions of the Medulla go on regardless of the input from the brain, mind or external stimuli. Just as the sun never rises or sets, it only appears that way due to the earth’s rotation around it; as long as we live, the light of life within us never changes regardless of what our state of mind is. Just as the sun shines equally on flowers and weeds, the light of life within us animates every cell, whether healthy or diseased and every thought, whether good or bad.

Seeds cannot germinate when they are roasted. You need a source of light and heat in order to do this. This principle can be applied to our undesirable thought forms. Since thoughts are not something one cannot uproot physically from our minds, the process of preventing bad thoughts from propagating into actions has to start within.

Visualize the mind as the earth and the life principle in the Medulla as the sun. As the Earth rotates around the sun, day and night alternate. Similarly as the mind rotates around this source of life within us, good and bad thoughts may alternately manifest. One cannot escape day and night as long as we are on earth. In similar fashion, as long as we are in the realm of the mind, one cannot run away from thoughts, whether good or bad. The mind and thoughts have a subtle way of taking control of us and ultimately make us subservient to their vagaries. The process of taking back this control and viewing the mind and thoughts from a safe distance without being affected by them is a single step in a long and arduous inner process known as meditation. Once you are able to see mind and thoughts from a higher vantage point, it is natural for wisdom to dawn within. Using the light of this inner wisdom, the seeds of bad thoughts may be carved out leaving behind the good ones. As one puts these good mental seeds to action, some of these will manifest into appropriate good actions when the circumstances are right. If not, they remain dormant for future good use.

As long as one finds peace in seeking refuge in inner wisdom, it does not matter what others think. A jack-o’-lantern serves as a beacon for children to come trick or treating. The void of inner stillness and wisdom will serve as a beacon for all good things to come to oneself.