When I was a little girl, my family lived in a big, old house with creaky hardwood floors and iron radiators that made all sorts of noises when the steam passed through them. I was at the age when I was beginning to sleep in my own room most of the time, and one night I had a scary childhood nightmare.
In it, a grizzly bear was at one end of my bed, snarling and showing his teeth and claws. At the other end of the bed was Snidely Whiplash, the mustached villain in his black top hat and cape, laughing that same evil laugh as he would when he would tie the fair young maiden to the railroad tracks.
I laid there and whimpered and shook. I thought, "I've got to get out of here. But how?" If I go one way the grizzly bear will get me and if I go the other, Snidely Whiplash will tie me to the railroad tracks!"
I knew it was about five o'clock in the morning, because I could see the light from the kitchen at the end of the long hallway where my mom and dad were having breakfast before my dad left for work.
Finally, I mustered up all my courage and made a run for it. I ran all the way down to the kitchen and slid into my mother's arms. As my parents calmly sipped their coffee, they reassured me that I was okay. Then my mom took me by the hand, led me back to my bedroom, turned on the light and showed me that there was nothing there to be afraid of.
And, just like that, my fears vanished.
Amazing what happens when we turn on the light, isn't it?
As a child, I laid there in the darkness not fully understanding the difference between my illusions and reality, but I had one thing going for me. The door was cracked open just a bit and I knew the light shining through meant love was just at the end of that hallway.
To children, life is a deep mystery, but all things are mysteries when you don't understand them. When we mature, we put aside childish fears and wild imaginings. As adults, our understanding has expanded. We can turn on the light of knowledge, the light of reason, and know that Snidely Whiplash isn't at the foot of our bed.
But, beyond this natural progression from childhood to adulthood is a transformation that doesn't just happen automatically. It's the opportunity for enlightenment. Enlightenment means turning on the light of truth and waking up from the dream of illusion and separation.
If you've been living your life stumbling around in the darkness, alarmed by each obstacle and frightened by every shadow, it might seem like you're a long way from that light of truth. But, by choosing to courageously open the door of your heart and mind and by turning away from nightmarish delusions deeply embedded in the superstitions of many, you'll find that there is nothing to be afraid of ever again. There is nothing to worry about ever again. There is only light.
Every day, every moment, each one of us has the opportunity to choose to live with our eyes wide open, shining the light of truth along our path. Realizing who and what we really are, our entire world becomes illumined and we expand into the immensity of life.
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