Be a light unto yourself

“Sometimes you need the light of others to see the way. Sometimes you need to be a light for others. And always, the light will shine more brightly when two or more are gathered in spirit.” (p. xxxiv, The Buddha’s Wife)

These imagined words from Princess Yasodhara, the Buddha’s wife, are a response to what are said to be historically the Buddha’s last words: “Be a light unto yourself, seek your own salvation with diligence.”

Through the recreation and retelling of Yasodhara’s story and life, we hope to have her be a source of illumination and enlightenment for others.  From her story, we can discover a relational path that offers a possibility of healing and going beyond division, what we call the Path of Right Relation.  It is a path that celebrates and honors all people, faiths, and voices.  It is a call to acknowledge the significance of our relationships, and the need for us all to co-arise as a global community of relational activists if we are to flourish.

When we face the darkness of suffering, grief, and despair, we have all experienced in some way the light that comes from leaning onto another’s shoulder or the kind words of help.  It is in these moments that we experience the grace of others, whether they are family, friend, or stranger.  How can we be mindful of our own light?  How can we be a light for others?  Mindfulness of our everyday interactions and relationships is one place to start; kindness is one place to begin.

Here is a simple meditation in your practice of relational mindfulness: In any moment of interaction, we can gently pause and take a breath. Whatever the feelings in the moment, we a can notice the simple presence of the other and find a place of gratitude.