Last night was the start of Chanukah, the eight-day Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights. Over the next week, Jewish people will light the menorah to commemorate the miracle of the one vial of oil lasting for eight days.
A Gradual Illumination
The menorah we light on Chanukah has eight branches, plus an extra spot for the “helper candle” that lights the others. But we don’t light all eight candles every night.
The ritual of the candle lighting is additive. On the first night we light one candle, on the second night we light two candles, and so on. Each night we light one more candle until reaching eight on the final night. The light slowly increases.
This is a mirror of how nature works. Over the weekend we celebrated the Winter Solstice — the shortest day and longest night of the year. Now the days will gradually increase in length, each day giving us more light, until we peak with the longest day of the year at the Summer Solstice.
On a daily basis, we do not go instantly from darkness of night to the strong sun in the sky. The sun rises gradually, slowly increasing its light until it peaks.
If you’ve ever been in a dark room where someone turned on the light to full brightness, you might have noticed that you instinctively shield your eyes.
This is because the eyes can’t adjust so quickly from darkness to a fully-illuminated environment. Nature requires a more gradual transition.
Our Path to Enlightenment Mirrors Nature
These patterns teach us about our own enlightenment, both personally and as a collective.
The path to enlightenment, awakening, and raising consciousness is gradual, not instant. It happens over a stretch of time. Each moment of illumination builds on the previous moments, just like the additive nature of the Chanukah candles and the gradual lengthening of the days.
Transformation is a Process
This pattern holds up in any area in which we seek transformation. Whether you want to condition a new habit, transform your body or your business, none of it is instant.
As much as we may want all the answers at once or to have overnight results, it wouldn’t serve us to receive it that way. We wouldn’t be able to handle the sudden transition from darkness to full-brightness.
Chanukah entails a daily commitment to the ritual of lighting the candles in order to build to the full brightness of the last night. So too in every area we must commit to the daily practices and rituals that facilitate our awakening and our transformation.