We are living through tumultuous times. You've probably read this phrase or a similar one countless times in 2020 as the covid-19 pandemic along with economic uncertainty has spread throughout the world while in the US police shootings, civil unrest, political turmoil, and wildfires have dominated headlines and people's experiences.
What's worse is that anxiety and depression levels have spiked. Many people are afraid, confused, and angry. They feel that they are in a time of darkness with no end in sight.
In the Lord of the Rings, the elf queen Galadriel gives Frodo a light filled crystal to help guide him in his darkest moments. Frodo is near his end when he remembers the crystal and it saves him.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by life. Even before the crises of 2020, most people felt like they lived in states of perpetual crises, whether personal or societal.
We've lived in a cynical age for a long time. While we have wonderful technology and innovation, and the vast majority of people live in historically peaceful and prosperous physical circumstances, it's easy to think that mental darkness and confusion is the natural state of things.
Just as in Frodo's case, it's in our darkest moments that we have the opportunity to remember that each of us carry light. When we remember that we possess this light, we are able to shine it into the darkness, get a clear view of things, and determine where to go next.
A long time ago, different cultures discovered that enlightenment is within: at the core of our being, we have an essence that is pure and perfect light. Just like physical light, this inner light dispels darkness and provides clarity. It also brings indescribable joy, peace, and wisdom. Connecting to this essence puts you at the center of things.
The pathway to enlightenment is meditation. It is available to everyone. Meditation is finding that crystal of light and using it to light your way. This is what the Buddha said in his Noble Truths. Just like Frodo we can all succeed in our quest. That's not to say it won't be without its difficulties, just as it was for Frodo. But it's doable.
In these times of apparent darkness, and in all other times, don't let yourself forget about the light you carry. And don't let anyone convince you that you don't carry it. All inner and outer tyrants eventually fall. The light always wins.