If we really want to live, we'd better start at once to try; If we don't it doesn't matter, we'd better start to die.
W. H. AUDEN
Whenever asking for something (and visualization is a form of asking), you might find it a good idea to underwrite your request with an insurance policy.
The insurance policy I suggest: preface and/or follow all your requests with "for the highest good of all concerned."
We are powerful creators. We might ask for something--a solution to a problem, say--and, by the time that solution comes to pass, it has more problems attached to it than the problem it was intended to solve: it isn't the right color (or some other omitted detail), we no longer need it, we already have two others, or we simply no longer want it.
Sometimes putting requests in motion is like ordering room service at a bad hotel. We place the order at ten in the evening. By midnight nothing's come, so we give up and go to sleep. At 3:00 a.m., there's a pounding at the door, "Room service!"
"I don't want it anymore."
"But you ordered it."
"That was at ten o'clock."
"We were very busy tonight."
"Well, I don't want it now."
"Did you cancel your order?"
There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it.
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
"No. The phone lines were busy."
"How many times did you try?"
"That wasn't enough."
"Well, I still don't want it."
"You ordered it. You've got to eat it."
"No, I don't."
"It'll be outside your door. You'll have to step over it in the morning."
"Fine. Now, leave me alone."
"And you have to pay for it."
"I'll do nothing of the kind."
"Then we won't bring you breakfast."
"Fine. Now, go away."
"What about my tip?"
"It's customary to offer a gratuity when someone brings you room service. Especially at three o'clock in the morning."
"But I didn't want room service at three o'clock in the morning."
"Did you tell them that when you placed the order?"
"Then it's not our fault. It's certainly not my fault. I did my job. I deserve a tip."
"You're not getting a tip. Now, leave me alone."
"The maid's a friend of mine. I'll tell her not to clean your room tomorrow."
"I'm checking out tomorrow."
"The bellboy's a friend of mine, too. You'll have to carry your own baggage."
"Write yourself a tip on the bill. Now, let me get some sleep."
"Could you sign the bill, please?"
"If you give a tip, you have to sign the bill."
To get what we want--and only what we want, and all of what we want--it's good to be as specific as possible. But it seems that, no matter how many details we include, the fickle finger of fate can add a few we never considered.
The highest good.
That's where "the highest good" comes in. Do all that you can; then ask for it in the name of the highest good of all concerned. That way, no matter what happens, what comes to you will be right, and the timing will be perfect.
This is especially true when making requests for others. We don't always know what would be the best for ourselves, so how can we hope to know what would be the best for someone else?
I was once told of an elderly woman who was in a coma. Her friends and family prayed, affirmed, and visualized unceasingly that she come out of the coma and live. The coma continued for weeks. The woman finally awoke from the coma and said in perfectly lucid tones to those gathered around her bed, "Let me go. I've seen what it's like on the other side. I want to go there. You're all holding me here. I love you. If you love me, let me go." She closed her eyes, returned to the "coma." A few hours later--after the message of "let go" was spread among her family and friends--she died.
If her friends had sent their prayers, affirmations, and visualizations to her for her highest good and the highest good of all concerned, she might have been able to make her transition with less struggle.
How often have we wished for our friends, "I hope he gets that job," or "I hope they stay together," or "I hope she sells her house"? Maybe the new job, staying together, and selling the house aren't for their highest good. Maybe later they'll say, "I sure hate this job," or "We should have broken up years ago," or "I wish I had my house back." At this point we usually tell ourselves, "But that's what they said they wanted."
What people say they want and what they really want when it actually comes to pass are often two different animals. Usually two different species.
What we don't know, fully and absolutely, is the future. We don't know what will happen or how things will be different or how we will have changed. What we ask for today, we may not want tomorrow. This is why it's a good idea to make a list of all the things you're asking for--your list of goals. When you no longer want something (maybe because you got something better), cross it off your list. Tell yourself, "Thank you, but I no longer want this."
The tendency of man's nature to good is like the tendency of water to flow downwards.
When asking for things, some people also like to add, "this, or something better." If we want ten million dollars, but we get twenty million, that would be okay, wouldn't it? Some people put an upper limit on their receiving by how they ask. "This, or something better, for my highest good and the highest good of all concerned" encompasses all variables, changes, and extremes.
You can relax after asking. (Relax from worrying, that is. You'll still have to get busy to make your dreams a reality.)
"For my highest good and the highest good of all concerned" trusts that there is some Higher Power--Mother Nature, Father God, or whatever you care to call It--who is taking care of us, who is there to nurture and support us, who knows what we want before we even know it, and who is happy to give it to us.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
THE FIRST BOOK OF MOSES, CALLED GENESIS 1:1-3
The concept of light as a gift from "someplace greater" to humanity seems to be ageless and universal. It spans time, geography, and belief. It's central to almost every religion, a great many philosophies, and is at the very core of atomic physics-- which means at the very core of life itself.
In approximate historical order, let's look at how light is viewed by the major religions of the world.
Hinduism, one of the oldest religions in the world, was founded around 1500 B.C. One of Hinduism's sacred texts, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, states (1.3.28):
Lead me from the unreal to the real!
Lead me from darkness to light!
Lead me from death to immortality!
Light is equated both with reality and immortality. "Enlightenment" is a Hindu's highest goal.
Judaism was formally founded around 1300 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era). Jewish scripture is abundant with references to light, starting with "In the beginning," quoted on the facing page.
The Old Testament of the Bible--the sacred texts as well as the story of the Chosen People--includes some of the most beautiful references to light ever written.
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light. (Exodus 13:21)
Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. (Psalm 4:6)
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1)
I shall light a candle of understanding in thine heart, which shall not be put out. (II Esdras 14:25)
The light that cometh from her [wisdom] never goeth out. (Wisdom of Solomon 7:10)
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.
Buddhism was founded by Gautama Buddha around 525 B.C. Buddha is often referred to as "The Light of Asia." "Enlightenment," in fact, is what transformed the endarkened Siddhartha Gautama into "Buddha" ("the Enlightened One").
Christianity. Jesus said of himself, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12).
He told his followers, "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you" (John 12:35).
After he physically left the earth, Jesus sent "an advocate" in the form of the Light of the Holy Spirit, which first appeared to the disciples as tongues of fire (light).
Islam was founded by the prophet Mohammed in 622 A.D. The sacred text of Islam is the Koran. This passage from the Koran (24:35) leaves little doubt as to Islamic beliefs about light:
God is the light of the heavens and of the earth. His light is like a niche in which is a lamp--the lamp encased in glass--the glass, as it were, a glistening star. From a blessed tree it is lighted, the olive neither from the East nor of the West, whose oil would well nigh shine out, even though fire touched it not. It is light upon light. God guideth whom He will to His light, and God setteth forth parables to men.
Beyond plants are animals, Beyond animals is man, Beyond man is the universe. The Big Light, Let the Big Light in!.
The Native Americans of both North and South America had many religions, but most have a common thread--The Great Spirit, Mother Earth, and the colors of Light. This North American Indian song illustrates the latter.
May the warp be the white light of morning,
May the weft be the red light of evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness.
Or from the poem "The Flight of [the Aztec] Quetzalcoatl":
It ended With his body changed to light, A star that burns forever in that sky.
Now, if all this talk about God and light isn't quite up your avenue, how about ancient philosophers?
The Greeks liked light. Pindar (518-438 B.C.) wrote, "Creatures of a day, what is a man? What is he not? Mankind is a dream of a shadow. But when a god-given brightness comes, a radiant light rests on men, and a gentle life."
The Romans were fond of light, too. "On a dark theme I trace verses full of light," wrote Lucretius (99-55 B.C.), "touching all the muses' charm."
The pagan gods used light. "The evening is come; rise up, ye youths," spoke Catullus (87-54 B.C.). "Vesper from Olympus now at last is just raising his long-looked-for light."
Not happy with Greeks, Romans, and pagans? How about poets?
Dante, in the early 1300s, declared that Beatrice "...shall be a light between truth and intellect." Three hundred and fifty years later, Henry Vaughan calmly informed us,
I saw Eternity the other night
Like a great ring of pure and endless light.
All calm, as it was bright;
And round beneath it,
Time in hours, days, years,
Driv'n by the spheres
Like a vast shadow moved;
in which the world
And all her train were hurled.
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
A hundred-or-so years later, Wordsworth advised us, "Come forth into the light of things, /LetNature be your teacher." And Lord Byron either heard a song from without or (as I like to think) a sound from within when he wrote:
A light broke in upon my brain--
It was the carol of a bird;
It ceased, and then it came again,
The sweetest song ear ever heard.
Emily Dickinson enjoyed one of the qualities of light: "Phosphorescence. Now, there's a word to lift your hat to," she wrote. "To find that phosphorescence, that light within, that's the genius behind poetry."
Closer to our time, Theodore Roethke pointed out, "The word outleaps the world, and light is all." On a more personal note, he wrote, "Light listened when she sang."
Which brings us to one of the favorite poetical uses of light--to describe one's beloved. The most famous, perhaps, is Shakespeare's "But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!"
Robert Burns was a bit more, well, Scottish with the light of love:
The golden hours on angel wings
Flew o'er me and my dearie;
For dear to me as light and life
Was my sweet Highland Mary.
Tennyson, at the tender age of thirty-three, remarked upon seeing the gardener's daughter,
Half light, half shade, She stood, a sight to make an old man young.
All right. Enough poets. How about artists? Michelangelo wrote, "I live and love in God's peculiar light." During an interview, Marc Chagall once made this comment: "Do not leave my hand without light."
And of light and death? Goethe's last words were "More light!" while Teddy Roosevelt requested, "Put out the light." Herder's self-written epitaph was "Light, love, life." Longfellow seemed to accept the notion that light is to be found on either side of death: "The grave itself is but a covered bridge / Leading from light to light, through a brief darkness."
All this too airy-fairy for you?
It is eternity now. I am in the midst of it. It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it, as the butterfly in the light-laden air. Nothing has to come; it is now. Now is eternity; now is the immortal life.
THE STORY OF MY HEART (1883)
What about good old psychology? Jung wrote in The Practice of Psychotherapy:
The unconscious is not just evil by nature, it is also the source of the highest good: not only dark but also light, not only bestial, semihuman, and demonic but superhuman, spiritual, and, in the classical sense of the word, "divine."
If you're not interested in religion, philosophy, poetry, art, parting words, or psychology, I'll just have to appeal to your patriotism!
Oh, say, can you see by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Why have I gone through all this? Isn't this book long enough already? Well, this was just my meandering way of illustrating that there are many kinds of light. My suggestion? Whichever kind you like, use it.
Imagine, if you will, a pure, white light surrounding, filling, and protecting you, all of your activities, everyone and everything around you. Ask for this light for your highest good and the highest good of all concerned.
Just as darkness is merely the absence of light, not a real thing in itself, negativity, another form of darkness, is simply the absence of another kind of light.
Where does the darkness go when you turn on the light? What happens to your fist when you open your hand? Where does your lap go when you stand up? If you work with the light (and ask the light to work with you), you may find yourself asking the question, "What happens to negativity when I ask for the light?"
You can think of light as an acronym: Luxuriating In Good Happy Times, perhaps, or Loving Intensely Gives Higher Thinking, or Laughing Internally Gets Hilarious Teachings. Invent any others you choose.
If there is a power in light you can call on, you might as well use it. If not, you're not losing much except the few seconds it takes to think, "I ask the light to surround, fill, and protect me and everyone and everything around me for my highest good and the highest good of all concerned." (In a pinch, you can shorten it to: "Light! Highest Good!")
There was a young lady named Bright, Whose speed was far faster than light; She set out one day In a relative way, And returned home the previous night.
Light seeking light doth light of light beguile.
It's one of those you-have-little-to-lose-and-a-lot-to-gain suggestions. Try it. Play with it. See what happens. I'm not asking you to believe; just experiment. Based on your results, you'll know if there's something to it for you or not.
Copyright © 1988-1996 Peter McWilliams & Prelude Press, Inc.
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