This Little Light of Mine…

Yesterday morning I was reading Juan Mascaro’s introduction to his translation of the Upanishads, one of several sacred Hindu texts.  This was just one of many readings of various spiritual (or religious texts) that I’ve studied over the course of my lifetime in search of an answer to the great question.  My reading of the Upanishads follows a reading of the Bhagavad Gita which was a great surprise and treat because of its simplicity.

Over the past twenty-five years, I have casually read spiritual books from all different religions in hopes of finding “the one” that would complete me and answer all of my questions once and for all.  I’ve read the Holy Bible cover to cover, Tao Te Ching, A Course in Miracles, several books on Buddhism (sparked by a college course on that great Eastern Religion).  I’ve read several books by atheist and agnostic writers such as Richard Dawkins and Bertrand Russell.  I’ve studied philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius, Aristotle, Ayn Rand, and CS Lewis.  I’ve studied the works of psychologists, notably Carl Jung & Sigmund Freud.  In all that study to understand myself better, I have taken every personality assessment I can find including Myers Briggs, Enneagram, DISC, Heritage, Strength Finders and many more.

None of this work has been done in an academic environment (except for the college course in Buddhism).  It all takes place in the early hours of the morning before the rest of the world wakes up.  I have to ask myself, what’s with this obsession around religion, philosophy and psychology and this seemingly never-ending search?  The people that know me best just considered this to be part of who I am.  I often get eye rolls.  “Oh, that’s just Scott.”  I’ve been told I’m highly analytical and that I overthink everything.  I know there is more to it than those labels of personality.

In the past five years, I’ve really leveled up this morning routine of mine.  And in the last two years, I’ve added both meditation and journaling.  The addition of these two habits are what have really helped me discover who I am meant to be.  Meditation and journaling together have helped me to explore the inner me on a deeper level.

While reading the Upanishads yesterday, a song just popped into my head out of nowhere.  I bet you know the one.  It was the children’s song we sang in Sunday school growing up.  “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine….”  Once it showed up, I couldn’t let it go.  It started playing in my head over and over.  I meditated on it.  I journaled about it. I became obsessed. 

I went into my office, put on my headphones and Googled “This little light of mine.”  For the next hour, I watched all sorts of videos of people from all walks of life singing that song.  Turns out this is a pretty popular song that musical artists and celebrities have covered time and time again.  Each one has its own flair, its own light.  Each one is unique.  Every single one made me smile and helped me feel my own light.  I have included links to some of my favorites at the end of this post.

I’ve heard from many authors, coaches and teachers that everything we are looking for is often right under our noses.  We go on this great search looking for answers only to find out that the thing we were looking for was right there with us the whole time.  We have everything we need from the day we are born.  I’m guessing I learned that song when I was five or six years old.  “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…..”

I have been looking for the one teaching that would resonate with me and guide me.  Forty years later, I’m sitting on my couch singing to myself, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”  Throughout this blog, I’ve often quoted Eckhart Tolle who said, “There is and always has been only one spiritual teaching.”  That quote might beg the question, “what is that teaching?”  I believe the answer just might be hidden in this great little song.

“This little light of mine,” – My light.  The light inside me.  The one underneath all the messiness.  The love that’s hiding beneath all the doubts, the fears, the pride, the guilt.  That light.

“I’m gonna let it shine.” – It’s a choice.  Free will.  You get to choose to hide or let your light shine.

You can choose to let your light shine, or you live your life in hiding. I know this is not just me.  I know this is not something I’m just overthinking.  This is the human condition.  We are gifted with an amazing human mind that has an incredible capacity to do things beyond our wildest dreams.  But that mind does come with side effects that can control us if we don’t get control of it.

So, what happened?  Why do we transform from innocent kids that have the only answer they’ll ever need, to the wanderers and followers that we become over time?  While I was surfing YouTube with my “This little light” search, I came across this gem from the beginning of the movie “What’s Love Got to Do with It” about the life of Tina Turner.  I found answers in this short video clip.

Please watch before reading on:

This little girl, little Tina, has a light inside of her and, boy o boy, is she ever letting it shine bright!  No words are necessary to describe that light.  I’m betting you felt it as you watched.

But then what happens?  The choir conductor stops the music and chastises little Tina.  Two things happen here.  First, the conductor says, “Show the Lord some respect.”  While she means well, what she does not realize is that these words plant seeds of thought that God is to be feared.  A loving God would not have us suppress our gifts.  Little Tina was belting it out with all of her heart, she was letting her light shine, and there’s no better way to show respect to God than to let that light shine. 

Then the conductor says, “Do you understand me?”  At first, Tina just looks confused and doesn’t really know what she did wrong.  The choir conductor repeats, “Do you understand me?”  After the second time, little Tina’s head drops in shame.  My heart dropped as her head went down.  And therein lies the beginning of the downfall that happens to all of us.  This is where separation begins.  That choir conductor attempted to put out little Tina’s light.  And for a brief moment, little Tina allowed it to happen.

But lo and behold, when they started singing again, little Tina’s light came right back on!  And she let it shine right down the aisle of the chapel and out the door.  She’s still belting it out and shaking her body outside on the steps.  Little Tina, thank you for letting your light shine and for showing the rest of us the way!

Each of us are born with a light inside of us.  It’s always there.  But after years and years of the various forms of stern choir directors whom we encounter along the way, we begin to allow our light to become covered up.  After years and years of searching and asking questions, I know mine is still aflame inside of me.  Friends, your light is still there inside of you too.  The choice we have, our free will, is whether or not to let our light shine.  Little Tina let her light shine.  Will you?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.


Here’s links to some of my personal favorite renditions of “This Little Light of Mine” that I found:

Kids version:




Dead South Blue Grass:

Caleb Serrano (this kid has light):

Ed Helms UVA Speech:

The NFL Choir:

Laurie Berkner:

Little Tina Turner:

1 thought on “This Little Light of Mine…”

  1. What a wonderful post… I’m just singing along in glee and now with a knowing that my light is mine to choose to shine into the world. Thank you, Scott!

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