Finding Light in Dark: The Greed and Beauty in Us
In my classes this month, I am touching upon different aspects of the mythic deity Lakshmi, Goddess of Prosperity. I find talking about Lakshmi fun: she is beauty, wealth, and abundance. Yet, I can’t talk about Lakshmi without mentioning her sister Alakshmi, Goddess of Misfortune. Lakshmi is everything benevolent and Alakshmi is everything corrupt. The two are halves of the same whole.
In mythology, Lakshmi does not make judgments nor does she play favorites. What is good for one person is also good for another. No matter your class, gender, sexual orientation, whether rich, poor, black, or white – we all get hungry, get cold, want love, and want to be understood. As long as you are virtuous and hardworking, Lakshmi will give you her blessings. Yet, Lakshmi is almost always accompanied by her sister and Alakshmi represents the negative energy that comes with wealth and prosperity. Alakshmi is the jealousy, greed, and malice that arises from another’s success or wealth. She is what tears people apart; what incites gossip, slander and corruption.
To weaken Alakshmi, is to acknowledge her strength and residence in each of us. Alakshmi’s power comes from her ability to ride our emotions, to play on the weakness of ego and the hurts of our past. She plays on fears: of being inadequate, of not being good enough, of others success, andfear of not being loved. Often our reactions to experiences are not based on the present experience but rooted in our past. How many times have you gotten mad at a remark a lover made because they brought up an old feeling of inadequacy that may have been instilled by another person entirely? Howabout arguing with a co-worker over an issue built on months of unresolved tension?
We all live with hurts and injustices yet when we carry the past around with us we hinder our ability to bring abundance, Lakshmi, into our lives. We may fundamentally know we are worthy of good things, but our own reactions to circumstances or deep rooted doubts about ourselves can obstruct growth. Deepak Chopra says “Understanding that you have choice in how you respond and interpret experiences is the key to healing the emotional body.” We cannot allow our own emotional state be reliant on other people’s words or actions.
When confronted with aspects of myself that I do not I like, I find I want to hide them away – stuff them in a dark corner of my body and hope they vanish. But, the more we ignore aspects of who we are, the more we give strength to these undesirable parts of us. As you go through your day, recognize your emotional reactions to people, places, and situations. When you are on your mat, notice when you get angry or joyful and how those emotions resonate throughout your body. When we acknowledge these unsavory emotions, we process why we feel threatened by anothers’ success, beauty or social standing and can dig to the root of these feelings. Only by excavating the deeper landscape and uncovering our core emotion can we release Alakshmi’s negative energies and open space where abundance can flow through freely.