Making Yourself a Light & Reappropriating Inner Authority

A note from Carl:

“Make of yourself a light,” said the Buddha, before he died. I think of this every morning as the east begins to tear off its many clouds of darkness, to send up the first signal – a white fan streaked with pink and violet, even green.

I love this opening line from Mary Oliver’s poem, The Buddha’s Last Instruction. When I look at a sunrise, a sunset, a unique play of light across a floor, I often reflect on these last words of the Buddha. How do I make of myself a light?

One of the central life passions, for both myself and Erin, is the exploration of learning, teaching, and exploring what contexts support finding one’s inner compass; making of oneself a light.

I am so looking forward to this theme of discovering the inner teacher being the topic of Russell Delman’s Salt Lake weekend in September, and a main theme of our fall Embodied Life Course.

This beloved poem from William Stafford points to finding that inner compass:

“When I Met My Muse,”

by William Stafford

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off-they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. “I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

Could it be possible that my own unique way of looking at things could be a sort of salvation?

Like so many things, it invites us to hold a kind of paradox: How do we open to inspiration, blessings, feedback, guidance, new possibilities from teachers, situations, life? While at the same time, not surrendering our own capacity to be an adult, autonomous learner?

A powerful pointing from Moshe Feldenkrais is this: “The mature human being is one who has re-appropriated inner authority.” In fact, a main point of the Feldenkrais lessons is to support people in doing just that – removing outer authority from our inner lives. This is deep and rewarding work. The resolution of aches and pains is a wonderful side effect.

It can be so easy to take the authority of a doctor, yoga teacher, internet article, meditation teacher, cultural norm, or ____ (fill in your own blank) over the truth of our own direct experience, our own unique way of looking at things.

As Parker Palmer says:

“Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.”

Wishing you receptivity to the teachings that shine through the world in so many ways, and an unshakable connection with your own inner teacher.


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