The Dharma Light

“May the Infinite Light of Wisdom and Compassion so shine within us that the errors and vanities of self may be dispelled; so shall we understand the changing nature of existence and awaken into spiritual peace.”

This passage is part of the closing recitation at our temple’s weekly service. In many ways it expresses the basics of a Buddhist practice. Throughout Buddhist works there is a recurring reference to the idea of an Infinite Light. Unlike other religions, this light does not represent a deity. Rather, it represents the universal truth of the teachings, the Dharma. When we ask that this Infinite Light shine within us, this is not a prayer. It is a statement of our desire to open ourselves to this truth. Once opened to this Dharma Light we can take the next step.

The Second Noble Truth in Buddhism is that the cause of our suffering is our ignorance. Driven by our ego, we are unaware of our imperfections. Buddhism is a practice of self examination. This brilliant Dharma Light allows us to better see all the areas of greed, anger and desire that exist within us. A recent speaker at our temple used the example of a completely dark room filled with dust. When there is no light, no dust can be seen. However, when light shines into this room, all the dust becomes illuminated and is easily seen. So it is with our failings. If we go through life basing all our decisions and actions on our self centered perceptions we will never become aware of our ignorance. Upon opening ourselves to the Dharma Light we illuminate these failings. Now, we can begin to overcome our suffering.

Life is constant change. We are born, grow old and die. The same is true for all whom we love. Yet, too often we base our happiness on the denial of this inevitable progression. We want the good things in our life to last forever. Fearing that this is impossible, we do not enjoy them to the fullest while they exist. Then, when they have passed, their loss brings us suffering. The Dharma Light allows us to “understand the changing nature of existence.” The past is gone. The future has not arrived and will be shaped by that which we do now. All that exists is the eternal now. With this realization we understand the importance of living fully in the present moment. Mindful of our actions, we live life completely.

All religions contain teachings similar to these. Gautama Buddha did not create these teachings. He simply became aware of this universal truth and spent the last forty-five years of his life sharing the Dharma. Suffering fills our lives when we live in the dark. Open yourself to the Infinite Light of Wisdom and Compassion. Cast away the darkness. Awaken into spiritual peace.

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