BANGALORE: Diwali, or the festival of lights is a holiday when families light lamps to illuminate the night. It celebrates the return of Lord Rama and his wife, Sita, to Ayodhya after spending 14 years in exile.
In India, people celebrate Diwali by cleaning and redecorating their homes and it is the beginning of a financial year for the shopkeepers. It is also the start of India's winter season.
Diwali and other festivals in different traditions often use the ritual of lighting candles and lamps. Lighting these also has a spiritual meaning. It illustrates the importance of lighting the lamp within us and celebrating the festival of the light of the soul.
Every human being can find the festival of lights of his or her soul and return to God. All it takes is the desire to do so. While God has sent us to this earth, God has also made a pathway for us. However, God has given human beings free will. We are the ones who must ask God to take us back home.
It will not be forced upon any of us. We must ask. Once we ask, God will give. It is like a rich man who announces that he will share part of his wealth. He is not going to hand it out to everyone, whether they want it or not; he waits for those who make a request. A doctor who finds the cure for a disease will not go out and administer it to unwilling subjects. He announces that he has the cure, and those who wish can come to him for it. Similarly, God has spiritual riches available for each of us. If these riches were disbursed to someone without his or her asking, the receiver might reject it because he or she did not ask for it, or did not value it.
God waits until we ask. Once we truly desire knowledge of the soul and the bliss and love within, God will help us find it.
We all have the opportunity to attain the bliss of union with the Lord. Yet, only a few take advantage of this opportunity. Many are born, but few turn within. We can all attain this happiness. Let us not be among those who miss the golden opportunity to be one with God. Rather than just engage in lighting candles on Diwali, let us sit in meditation to light the candle within us.
The process of meditation is easy. It is a matter of closing our eyes, looking within the veil of darkness in front of us and stilling our thoughts for a while. In that stillness, the Diwali lamps within will shine forth. Concentration on that inner light will pull our soul into the spiritual realms and beyond. It will help us turn our attention to the soul and the inner spiritual realms.
Let us not only enjoy the outer lights of Diwali festivals. Let us spend time in meditation every day so that we can experience the inner lights. That is the true celebration of Diwali, so we can experience eternal ecstasy, peace, and joy. Anything that takes us closer to God is a virtue.