Today is the Fall Equinox, which marks the beginning of autumn. The word equinox means equal night (in Latin): on this day, the night and the day are equally long. I love this day and this time of the year because it reminds me of the importance of balancing the dark with the light. We usually grasp for the light, which is what we label good, loving or spiritual, and we push away the dark, which may manifest as hidden anger, sadness and even rage — the human qualities. This season teaches us that the dark is just as worthy of a component of life as the light, and that the light actually couldn’t exists without the dark, at least not in this realm of duality we live in as human beings.
Let’s pause today, and keep re-pausing throughout this season, to reflect on some of the lessons the fall teaches us.
Just like trees shed their leaves without effort and without attachment, so can we lay down our burdens that we carried from the past into the now. A tree is not defined by any of its leaves, and not even by all of its leaves — just like we are not defined by any single experience, or by the sum of our experiences up to this point. Each season, each day, and in each moment we can choose to be who we are right now instead of clinging to who we thought we have been until now. Shorter days and longer nights remind us that the darkness within us is needed as much as the light, and that the darkness serves its purpose, just like the light. This season teaches us to accept our darkness, rather than suppressing and fighting it, because whatever is brought out into the light itself becomes light. And finally, the cyclical nature of life, with seasons ending and new seasons beginning, is a reminder not to cling to the physical world, which is impermanent, but to connect with the timeless and changeless essence of your true Self while still in this temporary earthly form. The bodies, just like leaves, come and go. As Rumi said, don’t look in the branches for what can only be found in the roots.
But this is not an invitation to reject the branches for the sake of the roots, or deny the physical world because we know we’re not just bodies. This is in invitation to find a balance between human and being, and that balance can be found only by honoring, embracing and fully dignifying both. This is how two become one. Or, more accurately, this is how the one remembers that it never really was two, even though it may appear that way. Let’s fall into trust, get out of our own way, and allow the soul’s wisdom to guide us.
The Tree of Awe (Rumi)
How does part of the world leave the world?
How can wetness leave water?
Don’t try to put out a fire by throwing on
more fire. Don’t wash a wound with blood.
No matter how fast you run, your shadow
more than keeps up. Sometimes it’s in front.
Only full, overhead sun diminishes your shadow.
But that shadow has been serving you.
What hurts you blesses you.
Darkness is your candle.
Your boundaries are your quest.
I can explain this, but it would break the glass cover
on your heart, and there is no fixing that.
You must have shadow and light source both.
Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.
When from that tree, feathers and wings
sprout on your soul, be quieter than a dove.
Don’t open your mouth for even a cooooo.