LIGHT & DARK: A STUDY IN SHADOWS

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In the major monotheistic religions, a good deal of time is spent acknowledging the darkness in humanity. We admit our sinful nature, and work with such darkness by aiming to reconcile with each other and God through repentance. Through this process, individuals are encouraged to emulate the divine as it is considered the main source of light and goodness in the world. Eastern faith traditions acknowledge both the light and the dark, but more time is spent on cultivating the light compared to Western counterparts. Rather than an external divine source, followers are encouraged to find and grow the light and goodness already in themselves.

One school of thought focuses mainly on darkness, while light exists outside individuals. The other line of thought focuses on the light already present in the individual. Darkness is typically not dealt with. If anything, the Eastern traditions only address it with respect to expelling and dissipating darkness. It is dismissed but never really analyzed. I think a blending of these tendencies is called for. Dwelling on either the dark or the light denies another part of ourselves. Without fully acknowledging and working to understand both sides, we risk either fearing ourselves or failing to live up to our potential.

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