By Sharon Bauer
Sharon Bauer, M.S.N., Author, Mimi Malfitano, Editor
Light is not simply white lights or blue lights, but the clarity of experience. Clarity is an experience of the innate awareness. In the Shiva Sutras of Kashmir Shaivism it’s said that when a person experiences the pure light of awareness, either internally or externally, they experience the Divine itself. And, as one becomes one with that light, divine bliss arises.
In every tradition the light is revered and honored. The Hasids taught that in the beginning there was Ein Sof. Ein Sof is the divine light that suffused the entire universe. The great Jewish mystic Baal Shem Tov said that everything is a vessel for the holy sparks. He said, even in pain there is a holy spark, a holy light, but it is concealed with many garments. When a person concentrates on the fact that the light is also there in the pain, the garment is removed and the pain vanishes.
In the Koran it is said that “God is the light of the heavens and earth.” For Islamic mystics, it is said that the essence of all things is light. The pure light or light of lights is the Divine Essence, blinding in its intensity. It is the source of all existence and the entire universe consists of nothing but degrees of light and darkness.
In Hinduism, it is understood that aging and death are the soul’s thirst for the experience of the light. In other words, the soul is said to burn up the body in its search for the experience of the light.
For the Chinese Chi Gong practitioner, one works toward the goal of embodying the light fully. One becomes like the sun, always shining. The Chinese adept may use the light to heal others. The goal for the Chinese Chi Gong practitioner is a healthy, long life filled with virtue and light.
Christian theology is centered in the mystery of the incarnation of Christ, which in the Gospel of St. John is perceived as the light illuminating the world. The light is personified as Jesus Christ. For the early Christians, Christ was present as the light and by practicing union with Christ and his teachings; one could be unified with the light itself.
The Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John describe the life of Jesus. It is the Gospel of John which particularly describes Jesus as “God’s own light in human form.” John goes on to say that “Jesus is the only begotten son of God.” He calls Jesus the “light of humanity” and believes that he alone brings divine light into a world of darkness. The Gospel of St. Thomas, a later Gnostic Gospel, discovered in 1945, reflects a very different understanding. Thomas’ gospel states that the light which Jesus embodied is shared by all of humanity. That we are all made in the image of God. Thomas’ Jesus goes on to say that everyone in creation receives the innate capacity to know God, which is light. This view of Christianity concurs with the eastern traditions in the understanding that the nature of divine light dwells within everything and everyone in the universe. It is the source of everything and everyone.
It is said in the ancient Hindu Upanishads that as the yogi experiences the truth of the Self, he becomes infused with light. For the Dzogchen Buddhist, the practitioner works toward the goal of achieving the rainbow body, the body of light. It is not enough for the Bodhisattva to achieve the light body for himself alone, the Bodhisattva takes a vow to help all sentient
beings attain the same state of luminosity.
Dzogchen of the Bon lineage speaks of 4 lamps of awareness:The 1st lamp arises through the eyes and allows us to see what is in the external world. Our awareness allows us to know the nature of what we see.The 2nd lamp – we have an experience of the innate awareness – the primordial awareness. And when this happens we feel like centuries of darkness are eliminated.The 3rd lamp is the lamp of innate awareness wisdom. We begin to hold the innate awareness much of the time. We hold awareness in waking, the dream and deep sleep states. As we do this, the subtle obscurations to the innate awareness are eliminated.The 4th lamp is the lamp which illuminates the base of everything and eliminates all sense of boundaries. There is oneness with the light of awareness. One become enlightened and shines through the world itself.
Where in humans does the light reside? Both Shaivism and Dzogchen say it resides in the inner most heart essence and that the Supreme Heart of the Divine is the unbounded infinite light.Abhinavagupta, the 10th century Shavite master exclaims that he light simply is and all things must be dissolved into this light. He describes the process of enlightenment in this way:In this 1st stage of meditation practice we stabilize in the awareness of awareness through meditation practice. In the 2nd stage of practice we begin to make a shift from meditative absorption to incorporating all objective phenomena into the luminous awareness field.In this phase, we focus on the recognition of the light of awareness in all objective phenomena. The inner recognition of objective phenomena is a melting or burning of outer appearances to experience the light in all phenomena.… that radiant light which shines through everything.
The Shavite yogi on attaining the inner recognition of all objective phenomena proclaims, “All this is nothing but the supreme light of consciousness.”
Abhinavagupta likened this process of inner recognition to the process of a violent digestion. The heart is seen as the place where this digestion takes place. It is in the heart where the pairs of opposites are digested and burned. It is in the heart that the melting and inner recognition of the light takes place. When all phenomena have been digested, all that is left is the light – the nectar of the awareness of awareness. So all phenomena are incorporated into this fire in the heart; both good and bad experiences are dissolved into one taste, into one light…
The psychoanalyst Michael Eigen describes the light:
“There is a light of lights, and when one sees it, no questions remain. There is nothing more beautiful. One feels secure. One feels trust. One is satisfied in the light’s presence, whatever death is, whether one lives on in some form or the other, goes through hell, purgatory, heaven or nothing, or never lives again, one lives forever now. One asks nothing of the light, no more than just to be. “Who shall I say sends me,” asks Moses? Tell them just is sends you… I do not know if the light heals illness, makes for longevity, success, or does anything except bring a smile in your heart. Truth is, I may not be aware of smiling or not, just a kind of seeing and feeling. Is it inside or out, in skin, pores, imagination? There is a visual component of the light itself. You can feel it in the chest, suffusing the skin and spreading throughout the limbs. Maybe I can feel the light more intensely when I’m alone? Not necessarily. It helps me see others more clearly. I can feel the truth of another’s life, the light shining in, over and through the other, the poignancy of a whole life, beauty, tragedy, love, anguish and joy taking form, passing. The light simply is a blessing. It blesses, calms fears, and adds holiness. Talking about it is good, but when I see it, there are no descriptions or demands.”
Many now herald a new pattern emerging out of this energy field which surrounds us. It is a new pattern of light which is emerging and being transmitted from tradition to tradition, from person to person. It’s what many call a new age of light… an age of “global oneness.” This oneness is also sometimes called “the meeting of the rivers.” Just as when rivers flow into one meeting place, a huge body of water emerged, so it is also possible for the tradition of oneness and respect to arise out of many traditions. For this to happen, we must focus on oneness and respect of all traditions. Our conscious collaboration with the light is necessary. Without this cooperation, this light of oneness cannot be brought forth on the earth. Let’s nurture that new pattern of light, that light of lights within us and bring it forth within our self. Oneness is pure and simple. It is not simply a concept; it is the real condition of all of us. Everything and everyone is included.