My friend Tom’s Sufi teacher commends a story about Aladdin of Thousand and One Nights fame. It seems Aladdin went searching for a lantern. That lantern was the divine light within, which is no mean trick to find. And once found what are we to do with it? The answer is to shine its light once discovered outward. Imagine for a minute a man who is filled with divine spirit holding it selfishly to himself. Doesn’t sound quite right does it. No once the lantern is discovered we must turn its light toward the world, so we can find God not only within but without.
Think of it this way. God gives us many gifts. What gift can we give God in the gift exchange? We ponder this question often during Christmas and birthdays — what do we give to someone who seems to have it all and is perfect. We can pray, but how long can we pray in a day? What about the other 23 hours plus? Perhaps the best way to please God is to help his other creatures, our fellow inhabitants of this planet. Can there be a better prayer to God than to be please, forgive, and tolerate God’s children? If I simply realize when I do wrong, I’m doing wrong to God, and when I do right, I’m doing right to God, I carry an attitude that pleases God.
It all boils down to a simple premise — our spiritual path, our call, must include being a better servant to humanity. If I travel a spiritual path without that intention, then I will reach a dead end having accomplished nothing. I then must retrace my steps and start again until I find another path lit by the lantern of divine light.