If it’s dark, turn on the light


Moments of awakening are what make life worth living.

Unfortunately, many and maybe even most people, either go through life without ever having any such moments or, if they do, they barely notice or remember.

That’s a real shame, and our society is largely to blame because an important truth is hidden away, in plain sight admittedly, but hidden. I reachied the age of twenty-two before this truth, which should have been obvious all along, was presented to me in the pages of a book. The revelation was simple: we are not as we should be. Human beings live their lives asleep. We walk and talk and work, shop and cook and drive and make love all while relatively speaking unconscious. We are asleep, throughout our lives, sleepwalking towards death.

“It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.”

It’s only a metaphor, yes, but all the more important and powerful for that.

That’s why all of my books are ‘about’ awakening – even if it may not immediately seem that way. The books appear to be ‘about’ a prehistoric tribe or a talking dog, a tennis-playing android or a journalist with a dubious knack for finding dead bodies. But they contain clues and snippets and suggestions which point towards that big idea, the one that matters so much but which even those who know it keep forgetting. (I titled one of my early novels ‘Lost In Thought’ not only because that’s the core of the adventure, but also because it’s the simple truth of the human condition. In one sense, I wanted a copy of the book, title prominent, sitting on my desk where I would see countless times during the day. It acts as a reminder.)

I don’t want to pile obtrusive ‘meaning’ into my books. Themes need to emerge naturally through the characters and events, embedded into the stories. That’s why so many of them are, in some way at least, ‘about’ consciousness. The theme of awakening is alluded to, like the famous zen finger pointing at the moon.

Awakening is the most important thing you can do in your life. It’s worth doing for your own sake, because those are the only moments when life is real. It’s worth doing for the sake of all of those around you, because it is like a flame or a fire, and it can spread and enrich the lives of others. And in these troubled times, when many people are wondering what they can and should do to prevent our civilisation being consumed by hate, prejudice, war, greed and corruption… awakening will help.

As the Chinese proverb goes: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

Or as Lao Tzu said: “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.”

We can’t fight darkness and win. But we don’t need to, because darkness cannot survive in the presence of light.

If each of us, in our daily lives can be a little more conscious, a little more awake, it will make a difference. If we all did it, the world would be tranformed. We can’t organise that or make it happen by wishing, because we can’t control others. And there’s a strong case for saying that we have no right to even try to control others.

All we can control is ourselves, and that alone is a super-human struggle. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.


Pic: 'candle and darkness' by Arghadeep Chowdhury
1 comment… add one
  • ” When it’s dark, be the one that turns on the light. ” – Mr. Browne’s Precepts
    Means like when someone is getting bullied and there sad be the one to be there and make them smile and also make them happy because they want someone to help them though about what is happening or going on in there life so be the one who turns on the light and be the best on e who makes themm happy and smile and also when I got left in the dark my best friend andre bryd turned my light on because she understands what I have been though in my life like no one else understands but I love her so I thank you so much andrea gail bryd you have done so much for me and I chearish every monent with you and every dang day with you so please dont every leave me in the dark again becaseu like for another example the dark is not a good please to go or to think about god is here for a reson to give use on e life to live it to cherish it to be happy sometimes and most of all make the bst of it even know we can’t control the bad things that happen or what goes on but we have to learn to leave drama and he past behind because my past is bad I still think about it but I just need to learn to get over it and cherish what god gave me for a reason and love everything about it and I do its the best 2 chance that I could never ask for but thanks to my dad and everyone that has done so much for me I cherish the papins and everyonee else at south stanly but the point is leave the past in the pst and look what is in front of you not behind you you ight hint somthing so when its dark be that person to turn on someone’s light and mkae there day or mkae them smile and make them so happy that they pass out from lauging and waht I think everyday is that the truth is hiiden away in plain sight admittedly but hidden and i have reachied the ago of 16 and which is a long time for me

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.