When Light Shines, Darkness Becomes The Light

Thich Nhat Hanh

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Awakin FeatureFrom time to time you may become restless, and the restlessness will not go away. At such times, just sit quietly, follow your breathing, smile a half-smile, and shine your awareness on the restlessness. Don't judge it or try to destroy it, because this restlessness is you yourself. It is born, has some period of existence, and fades away, quite naturally. Don't be in too big a hurry to find its source. Don't try too hard to make it disappear. Just illuminate it. You will see that little by little it will change, merging, becoming connected, with you, the observer. Any psychological state which you subject to this illumination will eventually soften and acquire the same nature as the observing mind. 

Throughout your meditation, keep the sun of your awareness shining. Like the physical Sun, which lights every leaf and every blade of grass, our awareness lights our every thought and feeling, allowing us to recognize them, be aware of their birth, duration, and dissolution, without judging or evaluating, welcoming or banishing them. It is important that you do not consider awareness to be your "ally," called on to suppress the "enemies" that are your unruly thoughts. Do not turn your mind into a battlefield. Do not have a war there; for all your feelings --joy, sorrow, anger, hatred-- are part of yourself. Awareness is like an elder brother or sister, gentle and attentive, who is there to guide and enlighten. It is a tolerant and lucid presence, never violent or discriminating. It is there to recognize and identify thoughts and feelings, not to judge them as good or bad, or place them into opposing camps in order to fight with each other. Opposition between good and bad is often compared to light and dark, but if we look at it in a different way, we will see that when light shines, darkness does not disappear. It doesn't leave; it merges with the light. It becomes the light. 

A while ago I invited my guest to smile. To meditate does not mean to fight with a problem. To meditate means to observe. Your smile proves it. It proves that you are being gentle with yourself, that the sun of awareness is shining in you, that you have control of your situation. You are your- self, and you have acquired some peace. It is this peace that makes a child love to be near you. 
 

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that when light shines, darkness becomes the light? Can you share a personal story of a time you were able to observe your thoughts without judging or evaluating? What helps you be gentle with yourself?

Add Your Reflection:

11 Previous Reflections:

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    On Sep 25, 2019 Subhash Garg wrote:
    Darkness of Ignorance colors with Negative Thoughts. Self doubt.
    light of Knowledge removes Darkness and turns into Positive Thoughts for Peace and Happiness !!

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    On Sep 25, 2019 RUBY wrote:
    Thought provoking! True, darkness does become light only if when light arrives. However, light never become darkness. Darkness is always waiting for light to go away to manifest itself. So, it seems light is the stronger force that always conquers darkness. Without light, there would be no lives, no plants, no energy, no vision.That is about the physical light and darkness outside around me.
    I used to meditate in the bushes and mountains a lot few years back. The darkness inside of me becomes light when I am happy for no reason. In the midst of a storm, i am calm, observing myself from far distance in the space, not sure from within this galaxy or another. I observe all my thoughts, aspirations, my existence, my body, my place in this universe. In eternity, somewhere in this vast universe, there I am alone, not wanting to know what i am doing there, why i am there; just enjoying that brief moment which will expire on its own.

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    On Sep 25, 2019 Rajul wrote:
    When the light shines, darkness becomes the light. Darkness is absence of light, so when light shines, darkness is not there or we can say it has become the light. I am able to observe my thoughts without judging or evaluating , initially i learnt this when i learnt to meditate, now, when I am mindful and bring awareness in every action i do or thought or feeling i get, i am able to observe it for a while without judging or evaluating. The monkey mind becomes often one with it instead of observing it with a distance. Awareness helps me be gentle with myself.

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    On Sep 24, 2019 Larissa wrote:
    I love the simplicity of this statement, “To meditate means to observe.” This article reminds me to accept myself and all that I am exactly as I am. It’s easy to forget this simple act, in my desire to grow.

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    On Sep 24, 2019 Debra J. Cox wrote:
    Thank you for this insightful response. As I get older I too am finding myself striving to observe rather than judge. Creating quiet spaces for myself to breath, using mudras to enhance my practice and accepting what the day brings helps me to at least to strive to be kinder, to be calmer, to be my authentic self. Have a wonderful day. debbie cox 

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    On Sep 24, 2019 Claudia wrote:
    Thank you for this beautiful reminder to not let my mind become a battlefield... to allow for all aspects of myself to be observed and possibly to merge. I need this gentle approach very much so that I can learn to live mindfully in stressful times.

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    On Sep 24, 2019 Jacqulyn wrote:
    🙏

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    On Sep 24, 2019 Marc wrote:
    Just what I needed this morning as a gentle reminder. The battlefield of the mind has been going for too long. During prayer the other day the idea that I don’t have to perform to earn or be loved came up; this reminds me of that. During meditation, I don’t have to try and succeed at finding the root of my recent and ongoing anxiety and stomach issues. Just by being present and trusting in that will eventually help.

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    On Sep 20, 2019 david doane wrote:
    When light shines, darkness lessens and goes away. I guess it's true that darkness becomes the light -- I hadn't thought of it that way -- since Thich Nhat Hanh says it, I will reflect on it further. I do believe everything becomes everything so it does make sense. I find it difficult to observe without judging or evaluating. I observe and drift in and out of judging and evaluating. I do more observing without judging and evaluating than I used to. For me to simply be present, be aware and observe without judging and evaluating, without a goal or agenda, is a joy and is enlightening. I have difficulty being gentle with myself. I become impatient and critical with myself. What helps me be gentle with myself is reminding myself that I am good, reminding myself that I have the right and responsibility and privilege to be me, knowing that I am learning and growing, paying attention, being gentle with others, seeing others being gentle, and reflection and meditation.

    1 reply: Jo | Post Your Reply
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    On Sep 20, 2019 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    ThichNahtHanhhas bee a great spiritual teacher for me. I am very grateful to him to plant the seeds of learning how to live spiritually.This essay raises important questions in my mind. What is darkness? Where does it come from? What is light? Where does it come from? As I am reflecting on these questions quietly, following my breath, light of awareness shines from within. This nonjudgmental awareness enlightens me. Darkness is created by myself in my mind and heart. Restlessness is created by myself in my mind and heart.This illuminated knowing liberates me from my self-created darkness. Darkness merges with light. Darkness becomes light. Light of awareness guides me to live mindfully. Two days ago, i and my co-teacher were discussingthe topic of Forgiveness with our Middle School-High School students. It was an open-enddiscussion. It was quite interesting to observehow a few students were reacting strongly to the students who were expressing their ideas of forgiveness very different... [View Full Comment] ThichNahtHanhhas bee a great spiritual teacher for me. I am very grateful to him to plant the seeds of learning how to live spiritually.This essay raises important questions in my mind. What is darkness? Where does it come from? What is light? Where does it come from? As I am reflecting on these questions quietly, following my breath, light of awareness shines from within. This nonjudgmental awareness enlightens me. Darkness is created by myself in my mind and heart. Restlessness is created by myself in my mind and heart.This illuminated knowing liberates me from my self-created darkness. Darkness merges with light. Darkness becomes light. Light of awareness guides me to live mindfully.

    Two days ago, i and my co-teacher were discussingthe topic of Forgiveness with our Middle School-High School students. It was an open-enddiscussion. It was quite interesting to observehow a few students were reacting strongly to the students who were expressing their ideas of forgiveness very differently from other students. We as teachers wanted our students to learn how to listen to other students as well as to us as teachers mindfully by being fully attentive and present without passing judgments about ideas and opinions expressed by others. I shared how I related to the ideas of the students which were very different from my ideas of forgiveness. I shared my experience of forgiving someone who hurt me very deeply. I mindfully processed my thoughts and feelings and let me be free from my anger toward the person hurting me. I let my thoughts and feelings come kindly and freely without judging, denying and getting stuck with them. I consciously let them come, stay and fade away effortlessly. This process helped me relate to the person hurting me empathetically and kindly. We built a bridge between both of us.

    I have been learning how to keep the light of awareness shining within me. I have been learning from my own experiences the lessons of kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and gentleness for relating to me and to others in my life. This is an ongoing process. I am happy to walk on this path and help others
    to walk on their path by doing inner work mindfully.
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave















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