Five mentors preside over our inner world, each with a duty to guide us through a specific dimension of our psyches. The Compassionate Guardian expresses for love, the Resilient Hero enforces for freedom, the Resourceful Developer develops for prosperity, the Bold Creator expands for destiny and the Joyful Luminary intuits for meaning.
In the final installment of this five part series, we meet the mentor of meaning, the Joyful Luminary.
I'm at the party of a lifetime and I'm having the time of my life.
However, with each successive call to "throw my hands in the air" by the DJ, my elation begins to dull.
Coming to my senses, I realize that I don't have any idea where I am, how I got here, who these people are or what we're celebrating.
I decide it's time to go.
Only, after considerable time and effort, I've discovered that this party doesn't have any exits. I'm stuck here. But, so is everyone else.
I feel badly for all the poor souls that are still having a great time. Clearly, they haven't discovered that they're stuck here...yet.
All alone with my new discovery, I find a dark corner along the periphery to consider my options.
During the quiet pause, I feel a renewal of energy as I recognize that the organizers have truly spared no expense. This soirée has all of my favorite foods, entertainment and activities. I decide to head back into the heart of the party and give it another shot. However, the harder I try to enjoy myself, the more dissatisfied I become.
Lifelessly, I stumble back to my corner wondering how much longer I'll be stuck here.
Silently watching the party, I become increasingly convinced that my solitude is the source of my boredom. With this realization, it isn't hard to find a group of revelers that I'm drawn to. I decide to take a risk and introduce myself, and am pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome I receive. The feeling of belongingness is intoxicating.
I discover that my new friends seem to have everything figured out, so I happily adopt their beliefs and norms to gain their acceptance. Strangely, the more I fit in, the more separate I feel. It doesn't take me long to realize that I don't much like being an Accepted Nobody.
As I shuffle back to my hole, I'm overcome with loneliness.
Wiping away my tears, I feel like an alien observing life in an unknown foreign land. I decide that my lack of knowledge must be the source of my deep pain. With renewed purpose, I learn quickly and am awed by the magical feeling of my new discoveries.
As the picture of the world comes into focus, I begin to reject the things that don't fit my understanding or that can't be objectively observed, measured and proven. Yet, somehow I find myself just as far as ever from the answers I truly crave (e.g. how did I get here, why can't a leave, what are we even celebrating?). With a growing pit of dread and emptiness in my stomach, I decide the path of the Knowledgable Fool isn't right for me either.
Consumed by the meaninglessness of it all, I retreat to my corner knowing I'm out of ideas.
"What's wrong with me?" I wonder. "Why can't I have fun at this party like everyone else."
In the stillness, I sense a response, "Nothing's wrong with you."
"What? Who's there?" I ask aloud with embarrassment.
"I didn't ask that out loud, did I? Am I going crazy?" I think to myself.
Then, an unwelcome response. "No, you didn't ask out loud. And no, you're not going crazy."
"Ok, if I didn't ask it out loud, then who am I talking to?" I ask, convinced that this party has driven me to insanity.
"I'm your inner Joyful Luminary. Like your shadow, I've been with you all along." Impossibly, this voice seems to be coming from within.
Attempting to reject my clear break with sanity, I sarcastically respond "Like my shadow? What a terrible analogy. I'm sitting in the dark, I don't have any shadow here."
"Sure you do." My wordless companion explains. "You always have a shadow. The light that powers your life is always with you. Each and every thought and action has a consequence that follows behind you like a shadow."
"I don't like this Luminary at all." I complain to myself. With that thought, it hits me "I'm fully exposed! The Luminary heard that! The Luminary is hearing this too! I've officially gone off the deep end."
"Yes, I heard that. And no, you're not crazy." The Luminary responds convincingly.
"This sucks! After being stuck in this party for so long, I'm now stuck in my own head." I exclaim.
"I can understand your concern, but I assure you that your ability to hear me is proof of your sanity. I'm here to help you remember who you really are and to reteach you the feeling of aliveness that naturally arises from true connection and wisdom with the flow of this party." My companion replies peacefully.
Filled with skepticism, I further question my companion, "If you're as wonderful as you claim to be, then why have you left me at this miserable party for so long?"
The Luminary responds unapologetically "I've been here the entire time. You needed to experience and deeply understand three important truths of this party before you were capable of hearing me. First, the outward search for aliveness only increases your feeling of boredom. Second, the outward search for belongingness only increases your feeling of disconnection. Lastly, the outward search for answers only increases your feeling of emptiness."
"I don't understand" I think to myself. "How is it that everyone is enjoying this party but me?"
"Do you think they're happy?" The Luminary responds inquisitively. "Look closer. For the most part they're all searching for the same things as you -- aliveness, belongingness and wisdom. They're also getting the same results -- boredom, disconnection and emptiness. The only ones who have it figured out are those who are singing, dancing and being merry."
"Figured out what?" I ask.
"That the party isn't about them," explains The Luminary. "None of this is about them or about anyone else. Those who understand this simple truth are able to see that they've been given access to the party of a lifetime. They've dropped the "me" that has needs and expectations. This allows them to experience the party as the light and life that flows through them."
"Sure, I get that." I respond with growing skepticism. "I've heard this story before. I understand that the party isn't about me. But it's got to be about something, right?"
"As long as you continue your search for 'something', you'll never be able to enjoy yourself." The Luminary replies. "In the act of searching, you accumulate expectations and knowledge that reinforce the "me" that you've created for yourself. That "me" is the only thing that separates you from the flow of the party."
Confused, I ask "How can I enjoy myself if there isn't even a "me" that's here?"
Amused by the question, The Luminary responds, "The "me" you've created isn't the real you. As you'll soon remember, you are the light that animates your life. By embodying your true nature, you'll see once again that there isn't anything missing from the party. There isn't anything missing from you either."
"I want to release the "me", but I don't know how." I plead.
"You have too much pride and arrogance," replies The Luminary matter of factly. "The one attribute of all those who have figured this party out is humility. You have it too. It's your natural state that's lying dormant just below the pride and arrogance that you hold on so tightly to."
"I don't like this at all." I respond sensing my resistance growing. "Won't I end up having nothing? Being nothing?"
"Yes and no. Yes, you will no longer have a "me" to spend all of your time building and defending. In exchange, you'll finally remember what it feels like to be truly alive and to deeply know you belong here, just as you are." The Luminary answers.
"Ok, it's worth a shot." I think to myself. "I'll give this humility a try."
Allowing the "me" to fade away for the first time I can remember, I have a growing sense of something long forgotten. Initially, I can't quite put my finger on it and then it comes to me. "It's joy!" I exclaim.
"Yes, its joy! Joy is the feeling of being in the flow of the party -- and of life itself." The Luminary responds applauding my rediscovery.
"Thank you!" is all I can think to say. I'm grateful in a way I've never been before, but I just can't find the right words to attach to this experience.
"Welcome back home!" The Luminary cheerfully responds.