When Yemima met Martin Luther King Jr.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” MLK
Before learning Yemima’s teachings, I always loved this sentence and wanted it to be true. However, I don’t think I understood it and for sure did not know how to implement it in my life. Today, I understand it a little more.
Many of our immediate responses to darkness are with darkness: like returning anger with anger. Injustice with revenge. It’s a response that is natural to us, but it only makes the darkness stay longer, get more settled into our lives. Sometimes, we don’t respond to darkness with darkness directly but we focus a lot of our energy on how to get rid of darkness. We try to suppress it, ignore it, fight with it. This does not work either because getting rid of darkness does not in and of itself offer us a real different alternative. Light is not the absence of darkness.
So the only alternative we are left with is sticking to light. Light is our goodness: good values like justice and honor; good emotions like love, compassion, and acceptance. We need to cultivate them. We need to think about them, read about them, talk about them, and practice them in our daily lives, so the darkness will not have room, not in our minds, and not in our hearts. The only true answer to darkness is light.
Yemima calls negative thoughts and feelings like hate, envy, and anger, “Omess”. It means burden. Darkness makes our system stuck, unable to grow, and respond to what is happening in the present moment. It blocks our ability to connect to all the positive that is available for us right now. To all the good we can be thinking, feeling, and doing right now. We aim to respond to ‘omess’ with love and acceptance.
“I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear.” (MLK)