Keeping the Flame Alive
October 2, 2020
Deep within each of us is the flame of our own uniqueness. Renaissance philosophers saw this as a spark of the eternal flame, the divine light of inspiration. It leads us to make our own creative contribution to the world—from writing poetry, composing music, creating visual art, and making scientific discoveries to coming up with new insights, new solutions to life's challenges. We all have that source of inspiration.
Yet as many of us have experienced in this dark season of the Covid pandemic, divisive politics, racial injustice, and economic uncertainty, difficult external conditions can snuff out the flame. We can feel like victims of circumstance, with no control of our lives. This combination of external threats can not only destroy our creative vision but even make us doubt our sanity.
Yet as the Buddha realized, when painful conditions arise, suffering is optional. The power of mindful awareness can reignite the flame, transforming oppressive circumstances with the light of inner liberation. With this inner light, this power of choice, we can create new possibilities for ourselves and our world. Viktor Frankl discovered the power of choice in a Nazi concentration camp, surviving to inspire millions with his book, Man's Search for Meaning. Nelson Mandela emerged from 27 years in prison with a vision of the new South Africa. And today, I'm grateful for the millions of brave men and women--doctors, scientists, concerned citizens, and essential workers--who are healing the sick, liberating the oppressed, and feeding our nation in these challenging times.
Like these and centuries of other creative men and women, we are each keepers of the flame, the sacred source of our inspiration. Who knows the power and possibilities that lie within you?
Take a moment now to connect with this source. Focusing on your heart, ask yourself:
What in my life snuffs out the flame? These are situations to avoid, transform, or transcend.
What ignites and strengthens the flame? For many people it is contemplation, beauty, play, time spent in nature.
Focus on your heart, feeling the flame burn brightly as you visualize what nurtures you.
Feel this creative energy warm your heart, healing, nurturing, inspiring, flowing through your body and out your fingertips, preparing you to make your own creative contribution to the world.
I wish you joy in the process.