Ummon’s statement, “Everybody has his own light,” can be misunderstood. It is very easy to misunderstand such words as “his own light.” I would not have used that; I would say, everybody is part of one light. And the part is not separate nor is it separable, and the part is not smaller than the whole.
The part is equal to the whole.
The dewdrop itself is the ocean.
Ummon spoke to his assembly and said,
“Everybody has his own light. If he tries to see it,
everything is darkness. What is everybody’s light?”
Here he is making a significant point: one has to relax to such totality that one is not. Even to be is a tension. When you simply disappear, there is light – your disappearance is the appearance of light. But if you try to see where the light is, in your very effort you miss it. The very effort to try brings your ego, individuality, you – and you are darkness. As an ego you will not find any light.
That’s what he is saying: “Everybody has his own light, but if he tries….” The whole question is whether you relax or you make effort, whether you are spontaneously losing yourself in the ocean or trying, because the very trying keeps you separate. “If he tries to see it, everything is darkness. What is everybody’s light?”
Ummon is talking to his disciples. Apparently, what he says seems to be very contradictory. On the one hand he says, “You are the light” – by making the statement that “Everyone has his own light…” his own. And then he says, “If you try to see it all is darkness.” Have you understood what everybody’s light is?
Everybody’s light is when everybody becomes nobody.
When you simply disappear and nothing prevails all is light.
Of course it is your own, but you are not there.
Of course it is your own, because you consist, you are made of light and nothing else.
And it is not only true about human beings, it is true about material things too.
The mystics were the first…. For almost three thousand years before science recognized that matter is not matter but light, energy, electricity – different names of light – mystics have been saying that “when we go in there is tremendous light.” Kabir says, “When I go in I am surrounded by one thousand suns. The light is so much, unbearable. But it is not hot, it is cool; it is not burning, but giving you more nourishment and more life.”
Perhaps nobody in the assembly of Ummon was able to answer him, was able to make some sense out of his contradictory statement. I hope it is not contradictory to you.
You are light when you are not.