Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Making light of it

It is usually possible to make light of someone.  Ridicule and mockery are sometimes effective weapons. But they are also sometimes valuable sources of perspective and accurate evaluation.  Things may be different when we make light of ourselves.  Little specks of energy shooting along through time and space for a while.  We do have significance to ourselves, our families and loves, to our co-workers and fellow citizens.  Quite often, the significance is over in a couple of centuries, if not before.

When we make light of adversity, we can see good results.  Between putting a different slant on a problem or some suffering and simply thinking up funny comments, we can often extract a laugh from a situation.  If we laugh and get someone else to laugh, we often don't feel as rotten or as scared or as depressed.  

But that is just using "making light" to mean a sort of expression.  Actual light brings life.  Without light, we have no plants and without plants, we have no food.  For our precious plants, we can increase or decrease shade.  We can install artificial lights and these days, artificial lights can be very powerful and have wide or special spectrums of colors and wavelengths.

As Rex Ambler, the British historian of religion, explains, when the logic and authority of government, the church and other traditional guides were being questioned more and more by discussion, argument and science, one answer was fashioned by the Society of Friends, the Quakers.  They were keen to avoid social ranking and unwarranted authority and considered each human mind a possible receptacle of God's will and mind.  So, sitting alone in stillness and silence, each was to be open to ideas and messages of worth.  They felt that an inner Light illuminated the lay of a problem and showed the topography of which way to turn.  

Ambler and others have instituted the program "Experiment with Light", a renewal of Quaker quiet reflection and meditation.  If you compare the explanations and advice on the Experiment with Light pages with the explanation given by Harvard professor of medicine Herbert Benson in 1972 in his book "The Relaxation Response", you will see that they are giving the same procedure.  This same idea, sit still and be quiet for a few minutes, is, of course, very old and is promoted by every sort of religion and mental health.

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