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Swamis question



Creation is a play of shadow and light; life alternates between expansion and contraction, rise and fall, triumph and tribulation, and only when it is the darkest, can one see the brightest star. Friends, with the onset of the Coronavirus, my teenage daughter was almost pulled into a state of melancholy. She had been affected by the daily news about people dying and was deeply troubled when she read the news about a boy in San Antonio who had lost both his parents. The Coronavirus stole the lives of his young parents only four months apart. My daughter asked - why our creator, the ever merciful, would allow the horrible suffering of innocent children. Friends, the same question must be raging in your mind as the virus continues to ravage our world. As I grappled with this hopeless situation, I remembered a chance encounter I had with a Swami. I was recalling his questions, his analogy of life to light and shadow and how he ingrained in me a mantra – “only when it is the darkest can one see the brightest star”


Artwork by Prachurya Baruah

We all may be familiar with the term “Swami”, a guru or master, a seeker of truth who follows a path of renunciation to serve humanity as a spiritual teacher. Although I grew up in India, I never met a Swami; I was not even aware of Swamis and their purpose. Then I met a Swami through an astoundingly unlikely event – a Bollywood movie!

A blockbuster movie had been released and I and a few boys snuck out of school to go to the theater. Back in those days, a film was screened through a projector – in the dark theater hall , as the film’s reels rotated, light from the projector fell onto the movie screen, and the images were created and we began to see the hero and heroine dancing. That day, as we settled down to watch the movie, there was a sudden power outage. The theater had a standby backup generator but that too failed. Thus, we had no option but to wait for the repairman to come to fix the situation.

As there was not much to do, I wandered around until I noticed the building adjacent to the theater. Although I passed by it everyday, I had never given it much thought. But that day, as I looked closely I realized it was a shrine. As I entered the imposing building through the main hall, I felt a strange pull, and then I saw a figure in saffron robes – a Swami. I immediately felt a sense of calm and tranquility, a hallowed presence seemed to surround the master. When he saw me, he asked– what brings you here? I was a bit embarrassed but told him the truth- “Oh Master, I had come to watch a movie.” Breaking into a smile, he asked me– “who is the creator of the movie you see on the screen”? I muttered, “The actor and the actress”.

To my surprise, he replied “No, they are mere projections. It is the stream of light which creates the animation, the sound and the movement.” I was dumfounded, transfixed by the Swami’s profound question, as if a divine voice had spoken to me. Continuing with the conversation, he reached out and lifted the window - the room was immediately filled with bright radiant sunlight. Pointing to the beam of light streaming in through the window, he said cheerfully, “creation is a motion picture; it’s all just a play of light and shadow”. The master blessed me, “my son, only when it is the darkest, can one see the brightest star”


The message of the Swami on that beautiful day still resonates with me today. Four months after my daughter told me the news about the Texas boy who lost his parents to COVID, there was a follow up story. It was about his birthday and how the community came together to celebrate his special day. People in his San Antonio neighborhood turned up to fill his day with a parade of drive through cars, birthday cake, Santa Clause and an outpouring of love and kindness. By afternoon , cars were wrapped around the block as far as the eye could see; the whole neighborhood was filled with sounds of cheers, music as the little boy smiled and waved.

After watching the moving images of scores of people celebrating, I asked my daughter “what do you see happening in the news today?” She replied – I see people being kind to this boy. Her gloom and sadness dispersed as she broke into a smile; in the midst of life’s tragedies, she found peace and joy. Friends, we are going through an extraordinarily difficult period, we don’t know when it will be over, perhaps this the perfect time to remember the Swami’s mantra - life is a play of shadow and light , only when it is the darkest, can one see the brightest star.

Speech at the Art of the Heal meeting , 10th September Please click to watch



An Extract from Me and My Shadow—Ways to Embrace the Scary Parts , By Anne Redelfs

As Ankur mentioned, life is a movie of our minds making. The quickest and most effective manner of changing the movie is to change the mind that is projecting this imagery. As long as the mind is accepting parts as self and rejecting parts as not self, there will be inner conflicts and these will be projected, resulting in outer conflicts. Until we embrace our Shadows, both types will tend to escalate over time, even reaching horrific proportions in an attempt to get our attention and help

Please remember that parentless boy that Ankur talked about. What if he had had no community support after the death of both of his parents? What if he continued to experience one overwhelming trauma after another? Allow your mind to ponder what this might be like. And allow your heart to feel the boy’s pain, like Ankur’s daughter did. And from that place of understanding and compassion, let’ s do some Focusing on our own shadows.

Creation is a Play of Shadow and Light , by: Vanessa Rivera


The morning dawn so beautiful and so bright

Is made even better by the clouds in the sky.

But darkness must come and so must the night

Creation is a play of shadow and light.

Embrace all the shadows that live in your mind

Let them know that you appreciate their pain

That the memories are no longer confined

And that you are grateful for lessons you gained.

Talk to your shadows, let them know you care

That the broken pieces in your life, you do share.

Tell them they are now free from the fight,

And then release them into the light.

This is the cure that your soul has prescribed…

Change your mindset to change your own self

Feel the emotions and energy vibes,

Of compassion you show to yourself.

The morning dawn so beautiful and so bright

Is made even better by the clouds in the sky

But darkness must come, and so must the night

For in the morning, you can notice THE LIGHT.



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