The Candle of Your Heart Meditation


"I shall light a candle of understanding in thine heart, which shall not be put out."

Book of Esdras


"The wish that all sentient beings who lack happiness be endowed with happiness is the state of mind called universal love, and the wish that sentient beings be free of suffering is called compassion."

The Dalai Lama


Sometimes the world seems very dark. When you are away from the light it is easy to forget that somewhere the sun shines. The darkness of despair can seem impenetrable. We forget that as lighting a candle dispels the darkness, an act of love illuminates the soul.

Light and love seem to work on similar principles. Just as darkness ceases to exist in the presence of light, negative emotions like anger, hate, fear, and despair are dissolved in the presence of love. When you touch an unlit candle to a burning wick, the lighted candle shares it's light and warmth without being diminished. When we share the love in our heart it warms those near us and kindles love in them as well. We lose nothing in the process, but are further brightened by their shining forth.

Love is pure. Like light, it can take on different hues, but real love contains no impurities. We can close our eyes to it or obscure it with the smoke of negativity, but like the light of a distant star it can reach across the vastness of space and time.

To perceive the light of universal love we must open the eyes of our soul. We can practice opening to the light and practice sharing our light with others.

Practice:

Sit quietly. Allow your muscles to relax. Let your breathing come easily. Bring your attention to the area of your heart. Notice any sensations you may have there. Notice any images that come to mind as you focus on your heart region. As sensations, images or thoughts arise just notice them and let them go. No need to cling to them. No need to analyze them. Just breathe calmly and relax.

Imagine, in the center of your chest in the area of your heart, a small point of light. Perhaps you will imagine this as the flame of a candle. Focus on this light for as long as you like. Bring it into clear mental focus.

Imagine that this light in you is the light of love. This is pure love. As a pure white light encompasses all colors, this love in you encompasses the full spectrum of love.

Notice any reluctance to experiencing light and love. Without self blaming, acknowledge the resistance and turn back to the image of a point of light. In your mind, open the curtains, lift the shades, disperse the smoke that may be hiding the light. Love and light seek to shine forth. Let them do what they do naturally.

Feel the warmth of this light. Imagine the light spreading through your body. Feel the warmth of compassionate love spreading through your body and spirit. Allow yourself to enjoy the beauty of light and love. Let the light grow stronger and brighter until you are filled with pure white light. Let the love in your heart expand in the light. Extend your loving kindness to yourself first. Allow love to penetrate all negative emotions that you may have accumulated. Let the love dissipate negativity. Let it shine through the sadness and hurt. Let your pain evaporate like a mist. Fill up with what is good. Flood your being with compassion.

When you've imagined yourself filled with light and love, notice how the light and love shine out from your being into the world. Let your love shine upon the people that are closest to you. Let it shine on the people you encounter in your comings and goings. Let it shine beyond the scope of your normal awareness. Let your love and your light expand to include all beings. Let your light and your love mix with the love in the hearts of all those other compassionate beings in the world who love and share their light.

As the light of each star in the sky shines on every other star, the light of all who love illumines each of us. Take comfort that even when you sleep, even when you forget yourself, universal love persists. The sun does not go out when the world turns away from it. Love does not go out when we fail to experience it. Practice opening to your light, opening to your heart of loving kindness. As you go about your days and nights remember to shine upon those around you. Share your light. Share your love.


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© 1998 Tom Barrett