Shine on… like a lighthouse
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above, in a world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky…
We live in a celebrity driven culture. The stars the media builds up and tears down are sold as enigmatic, interesting, superior in taste or talent… And yet, their moment in the limelight is often as empty and forgettable as the applause they receive. But they are in the spotlight. They are called stars and stars shine…
In our colloquial vocabulary, we sometimes use the terms ‘shine’ or ‘light’ to praise and encourage one another. When we ‘shine’, we are expressing positively our most authentic self. And when someone loves our ‘light’, they are appreciating our spirit! Our light is within. It is our spirit, our most authentic self. When we open our heart, this inner light shines through and it is always beautiful. However, the ego can stop this process. The ego is that part of us that is afraid and that wants to control its environment in order to protect itself. As I’ve realised lately, the ego has found its own way to shine.
In this post, I propose to explore briefly the difference between ‘shining our light’ in a spirit-driven way as opposed to an ego-driven one.
Look at me!
A long while ago, I got an interesting glimpse of the power struggle between ego and spirit. I was in a healing workshop, doing an exercise with a complementary therapist. She told me of her desire to be a star and to host her own show. She assured me that everyone commented on how she should be a star! As she was talking of her dreams and ambitions, I could only see a strange discrepancy between the nature of the job she had chosen and the social position she coveted. However, I noticed throughout the workshop that when she was not engaging with her ego’s desire to be noticed, she genuinely enjoyed helping others. It seemed to me that while her spirit drove her to assist others, her ego demanded validation.
When we shout: “Hey! Look at me! Look at me!” the world is supposed to ask why, for there must be a reason. However, we are sold so much distracting hollowness disguised as news or entertainment through television, internet, magazines, papers, etc… our inquisitive mind has become numb. We accept the distractions with amusement or horror, depending on how it is presented to us.
We have also been brainwashed to believe that attention and money equal success, which validates the ‘look at me’ attitude. Well, what is attention and money without purpose? To truly understand the answer to this question, just imagine the potential of attention and money – with purpose!
Our deepest fear
Marianne Williamson wrote, in her well known poem, ‘Our deepest fear’:
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
So our desire, no matter how deep-seated, to let our light shine may be a spiritual fulfilment. However, my social experience and personal observations have led me to believe that there is a vast difference in attitude and result according to the origin of the light we are letting through. If the light shines from our ego, we are trying to be in the spotlight for selfish reasons. If the light shines from our spirit, it emanates from us with the purpose of enlightening the world.
Ego and Spirit
- Be admired
- Feel superior
- Feel validated
- Outshine others
- Share Love and knowledge
- Encourage others to shine
In this context, the underlying vibrations of the ego are fear and control. There seems to be a damned tango between the fear of being unnoticed and the need to control others’ perception. The ego’s relentless demand for attention is satisfied depending on others’ willingness to give it. And even though a spotlight may illuminate every step of this hellish dance, there is no sign neither of lasting relief nor of fulfilment.
When we connect with our spirit – our truly most divine self – fear seems nonexistent. Our spirit steps up and chooses to shine in order to fulfil a purpose. There may be ups and downs on the journey. Uncertainty may linger on sometimes. However, each step carries a quiet light that cannot be extinguished because its intention is to nourish the soil it walks on.
When someone approaches us with their ego, it can be disappointing once we see them for who they are (or who they are choosing to be). Their desire to outshine us can be loud or subtly hurtful. If we are unaware of the dynamic taking place, it can create in us an unexpected animosity towards them. Similarly, if we desire to shine to the detriment of those around us, our competitiveness can generate tension in our environment.
Understanding the light we choose to emit and the way others try to shine brings more social awareness. As a result, it could help us avoid the pain associated with feelings of betrayal. These kind of emotions can indeed emerge in imbalanced or non-mutually supportive relationships. Moreover, recognising how others relate to us could help us select the social environment that best fits with our personality.
In my late teens, my mother gave me a beautiful painting depicting a lighthouse in a stormy sea. She told me that she met a young artist who was selling her artwork in the street. My mother liked this painting. She also hoped, through this purchase, to encourage this young lady in her artistic endeavours.
Years later, this painting is in my practice, right above my desk. I hung it there to remind myself of the spirit of altruism that must be a vital part of my work. This painting reminds me of who I am, where I come from and the nature of my purpose. Lately however, this painting has taken a new meaning.
Like a lighthouse, we must do our best to shine our brightest and strongest light to gently attract the attention of those lost at sea. Our purpose is to inspire, love and support one another. We must fulfil this purpose with care and efficiency, knowing all along that one day, life might throw us (back) into a rough sea. We must then have faith that there are other souls shining their light so we can find our way home.