Friday, February 12, 2016


The great theme throughout the ages is this---look within.

For years and years I looked outside of myself for the answer to life’s problems. I looked to others for help, especially my friends. I demanded their approval, attention and admiration. Not surprisingly, I lost most of them a few decades ago. I also beseeched a deity I thought was outside of myself for deliverance from my woes. Nothing happened. No, that’s not actually correct. Quite a bit happened. My problems and woes greatly increased in number and intensity.

When Gautama Buddha was on his deathbed he noticed that one of his ten principal disciples was weeping. 'Why are you weeping, Ananda?' Buddha asked. 'Because the light of the world is about to be extinguished and we will be in darkness.' Buddha replied: 'Ananda, be a light unto yourself.'

The same theme is present in Christianity as it also is in the other major religions of the world. Jesus may have said, ‘I am the light of the world’ (cf Jn 8:12) but he is also reported as having said, ‘You [that is, you and me] are the light of the world’ (Mt 5:14). He never claimed anything for himself that he didn’t also claim for you and me. Never forget that. 

Here’s something else Jesus reportedly said: ‘The kingdom of God is within you’ (Lk 17:21). In Matthew's Gospel the expression 'kingdom of heaven' is used (cf 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand' [Mt 3:2]) but it means the same thing as the expression 'kingdom of God'. 'Heaven', as Jesus used the term, refers not to some future place but to an inner and very present potentiality and power. It is within all of us, whether we be ChristiansJews, MuslimsBuddhistsHindusatheists or something else altogether. The kingdom of God is like the oak tree which is always present within the acorn---both presence and potentiality. In one of his many parables Jesus used this analogy: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches’ (Mt 13:31-32). In other words, we are talking about the invisible essence of reality. So, when Jesus said that 'your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom’ (Lk 12:32) he was saying that the creative spirit of life (the 'Father') indwells everyone. It is individualized in you as you and in me as me

The Japanese swordsman and rōnin Miyamoto Musashi [pictured above], in his wonderful text Go Rin No Sho (The Book of Five Rings), said more-or-less the same thing, albeit in different words and thought forms:

There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Seek nothing outside of yourself.

The great Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius gave us the same piece of wisdom:

Look within; within is the fountain of all good. Such a fountain, where springing waters can never fail, so thou dig deeper and deeper. 

I also like this Sufi saying:

Within your own house swells the treasure of joy, so why do you go begging from door to door?

You see, the theme of 'look within' is truly universal. I think it must be part of the phylogenetic heritage of the human species.

Be a light unto yourself. Look within. The answer to all your problems and woes is within you. More importantly, the power to solve and overcome those problems is also within you. And don’t listen to anyone who says anything to the contrary.


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