Recently, Amma Ilowan and Father Mukanda Dawe talked about the shadow side of Divine Will. They have always taught that Divine Will is Love, Joy, Peace, Life, and Life. This sharing was not an implication that Divine Spirit has a shadow side, it’s pointing to the fact that we, as humans, are capable of creating a mess even from a Divine gift.
Every being, human and otherwise, desires to experience love, happiness, peace/safety, and abundant life. Humans also want to understand- to be enlightened- for the reasons and meanings of life events. When we can’t surrender to Divine Will or find love, joy, peace, and abundant, enthusiastic life we could easily fall into shadow.
The shadow of love is a desire for power. This is the power to have people behave in ways we approve, the ability to get our needs met from those around us when we want it and as we want it. It’s the power of demands, threats, and punishing those who displease us. This shadow creates domestic violence, a 1 in 2 divorce rate, and child abuse. That is a very dark shadow. But manipulation through anger, silence, and pouting is a common shadow of thwarted love.
The shadow of joy is competition and comparison. When we are constantly comparing what we have, what we know, how we look, where we live, and how much we have with those around us we tend to be either miserable or puffed up. Neither state is a space of joy. One of the worst things we can do to ourselves is to strive for perfection. Nothing is ever perfect for long. Seasons come and go as do beauty and strength. Striving and competing will only leave us feeling unworthy or depressed rather than joyful and happy to be alive.
The shadow of peace is a belief in possessions. If we have enough money, if we have enough property, if we have another car, a new apartment, a new outfit, we will stop being nervous, stressed, and frightened of the future. The emphasis on things is all around us, so how could we ever find the calm serenity of peace?
The shadow of light is the prestige of knowing. Light means understanding and wisdom. It doesn’t mean knowing the facts or the trivia about every little thing and making sure everyone else recognizes that we are the holder of knowledge they don’t have. This is also the shadow of religions which turns to doctrines and dogma as the Way, rather than encouraging people to find Divine Presence within their hearts. Divine Presence calls for us to respond with kindness, generosity, and compassion to all beings. Doctrine and Dogma tends to quotes to justify intolerance.
The shadow of life is death. This is all the ways we harm ourselves through an excess of food, drugs, sex, exercise, work, etc. Life is for living. Life is for enjoyment. Life is for sharing love. Life is found in supportive relationships. Whatever prevents us from a celebration of all life creates the destruction of life. We see this in the devastation of the environment, the abuse of animals for profit, the warehousing of people, the hatred for the homeless or dispossessed refugees.
When we understand Divine Will as love, joy, peace, life, and light our path is clear. This doesn’t mean it’s easy or simple to follow, it’s just clear. Love is possible when it’s awake in our hearts. When love is awake in in our hearts, we are close to Divine Presence. Joy is possible only when it’s awake and filling us with possibilities. When we see possibilities, we have hope. Peace is possible when we are content with what is happening now. When we have peace, we are filled with kindness and generosity.
When we love another it’s because we are aware of the beloved’s presence in our thoughts, our hearts, and our lives. We make them important: what they do, say, think, and dream. When I realize that I’m finding fault with people around me I also realize I’m feeling irritated, frustrated, or just plain cranky. But when I appreciate others, suddenly they are wonderful and I feel touched, cheerful, and loving. Funny how that works.
The other day I was sitting on the porch worrying that the monastery wasn’t safe because we didn’t own Tract C. Then I thought, Shayshoshewa, you haven’t owned Tract C for the last 27 years and you’ve been fine. Why are you unsafe now? I didn’t have a good answer to that question, but I felt better because, nothing had really changed. Suddenly, I was at peace.
We live in a sea of conditioning.
Somewhere in that sea there is an Island.
On that island there is a Temple.
On the altar is a gift.
That gift is the key to unlocking Divine Presence within our soul.
With Divine Presence life knows no boundaries.
Without boundaries we are filled with love, joy, and peace.