In ancient Japan it was quite common for people to walk with lanterns at night. They were made out of paper and bamboo, and held a candle. An old blind man had been to the temple, and as he was leaving to go home, a monk offered him a lantern. “I don’t need a lantern”, exclaimed the blind man. “Darkness or light, it’s all the same to me.” “But you need to carry a lantern so that others may see you”, said the monk, handing him the lantern. The blind man seemed to have walked no distance at all before someone bumped into him. “What are you doing”, he said, “can’t you see the lantern?” “My friend”, replied the stranger, “I’m very sorry for bumping into you, but your candle has gone out.”
This beautiful parable tells us that external lights are limited and temporary, and will ultimately burn out. Our inner light, on the other hand, will always “light” the way for us. The light in question being “the light of consciousness”, which is our true nature.
There is an added teaching here that tells us that we can find ourselves in situations that would appear to be disadvantageous (like the blind man), however, it is possible that when we are in those situations, our purpose is to light the way for others.