Unit VI. Light
1. Light symbolism
3. Kinds of Light
4. Light Bearers
5. Point of Light
Materials needed: Journal
Light and Ecstasy
The Divine Light Invocation
It’s a warm spring night and you have just stepped outside and taken
a deep, healing breath of soft, damp earth. You look up and see a
white, full moon just up over the eastern horizon. It is so beautiful
it takes your breath away.
It is the moon, not the sun, that comes alive in the sixth chakra.
Its whiteness symbolizes the purity that is required for realization at
the higher levels of spiritual advancement. And because it is not a
light source in its own right, we see it as a model of receptivity and reflection.
The moon returns the sun’s light to us without adding anything of its own
to it. And so, it is also an example of detachment and non-reactivity.
This is not passive, but an active receptivity. The light of the moon
is cool and refreshing. We also have a crescent moon in this chakra
as if to underline the importance of its characteristics. The crescent
moon is a function of the waxing and waning process that occurs as the moon
encircles the earth. You could reflect on what this means in terms
of your own spiritual journey.
The Sat-Cakra-Nirupana (Woodroffe, 1973) says this is the
home of Bhagavan, in this case referring to Shiva. Within it, he sends
out sparks of light like lightning that light up all the chakras from the
Muladhara to the Ajna ones. He is the Atma or Atman which is another
name for the Purusa we have been following. That is, God’s Consciousness
playing through each one of us.
In every tradition, light symbolizes the Divine One. Or, to be
more specific, the energy of the One. The saints of history and some
seekers almost unanimously report experiences of seeing white light.
Many lay people have also had brief encounters with the light. I recall
my first experience of divine light as if it were yesterday. I was
at a workshop in which the leader was teaching us how to access the
future, and he had given us a visualization in which we were to climb to
the top of a tower and see some white light. In my vision, a strong
white arm came down out of a cloud of brilliant, white light and grabbed
my hand and would not let go. When I came to myself, the workshop had
proceeded without me and my neighbor was holding my hand. These experiences
usually are not initiated by someone but occur spontaneously and unexpectedly.
However, there are spiritual practices that can help us access it more reliably.
We shall come to that later.
The Transcendent One
“. . it is an old geezer whose face is unknown;
this is the one accompanying”
(Cleary, 2002, p. 175)
When we think of white light, we think of the Divine One, that Being
who is the Ultimate Reality and Source of everything. It is called
by many names depending upon the person’s religious or spiritual orientation.
In Christianity and Judaism, it would be God; in Sufism, the Beloved; in
Hinduism, Bhagavan or Shiva or Brahman or Vishnu.
Usually Buddhists deny the existence of a personal god. However,
when a person has done extensive spiritual practice and emptied even
the emptiness, there is still a presence in the void that Zen Buddhists
call the Transcendent or “Faceless One.”
you should know that there is something that not only is speechless
but doesn’t even
have a mouth. Indeed, not only has it no mouth, it has no eyes
either, no physical
elements, no sense faculties – fundamentally there is not the
to it. Yet though it is so, this is not void, it is not nothingness.
It means that
even though you see things and hear sounds, it is not these eyes seeing,
not ears hearing.
This is the way the faceless one is.
Your coming into being
as a body-mind is the doing of this faceless one. (Cleary,
2002, p. 189)
The manuscript goes on to say:
. . . there is
something that connot be obliterated, there is something that cannot
When you get to know this, it is not emptiness or existence, it is
or dark. . . It is just a bright, clear light. . . empty, clear and bright.
. . It
is just clear
awareness. . . this “thing” does not change. (Cleary, 2002, p. 190)
The writer closes the chapter with this couplet:
We could call
it the indestructible immanent body;
That body is
empty, clear, and luminous. (Cleary, 2002, p. 191)
In case you are wondering, these quotations come from a book called
Transmission of Light that was written by Zen Master Keizan (1268-1325).
He traces the unbroken lineage of Zen Buddhism from Buddha through 53 disciples
to Ejo each of whom, in turn, became masters and passed on the teachings.
The book has a short chapter on each of these masters telling how they became
initiated and what contribution each made to the system. The last
four or five chapters are all about the Transcendent.
Please notice how this One is described: as empty, bright, clear, luminous
light. We will see, in other traditions that the Ultimate Reality
is described the same way. Pir Vilayat said, “It is not the light that
is seen but the light that sees.” Moses saw God as a burning bush.
“Ultimately, light is the emergence of truth. .”
– Pir Vilayat Khan
In the Hindu tradition, the primeval egg from which the universe
was born is called Hiranyagarbha. Hiranya means “the
golden light of Truth” or “the True Light,” and garbha means “foetus.”
Here we have the association of light with truth, and we will encounter
that association in other places as well. It appears that Light, Truth
and the Divine One are synonymous in some respects.
Almaas (2002) uses the Enneagram to discuss nine Holy Ideas of which
Truth is one. He says that Holy Truth refers to the unity of all existence
and includes Essence and the Absolute. The essential truth
is the presence of Essence and the deepest, innermost, absolute truth
is the dimension of the Absolute. “On this level of the Supreme (the
dimension of Pure Presence or Pure Being), for example, you realize that
everything is a translucent Beingness” (p. 78). Take along with this
Almaas’ concept of Living Daylight which refers to “. . divine love, conscious
presence, universal love, Christ consciousness, or. . . satchitananda.
. . everything in the universe is seen to be originating in, bathed in,
and constituted by, Living Daylight” (p. 33). And he reminds us that
the ‘sat’ in Satchitananda means presence or truth. So we need to
add Love to the equation that describes the Absolute One.
Haqq, in Arabic, means “Truth.” It also means “the Reality.”
Pir Vilayat (Khan, 1998), in discussing the use of light to look at the
shadow quotes Pir-o-Mushid Inayat Khan on truth: “All things which one seeks
in God such as light, life, strength, joy and peace, these all can be found
in truth” (p. 72) and “Truth is the light which illuminates the whole of life;
in its light all things become clear, and their true nature manifests to
view” (p. 77). Pir Vilayat goes on to explain how elements of darkness
in our natures can be dissolved in the light of truth.
Sight and Seeing
Other associations with light have to do with sight. We need light
to see, not only on the physical level but also on spiritual levels which
are probably more important. We say that someone who can see the future
or past has “the sight.” Divine Light can be used to protect oneself
from the sight of others or from harm directed at us from outside.
We speak of insight when we understand something that was obscure before.
When we look within to try to understand how our minds and souls work, we
use divine light to help us on our spiritual journeys. When we experience
higher states of consciousness, we tend to try to describe them in terms
of divine light. So light can also refer to Supreme Consciousness.
A cloud of light often masks direct perception of the god because to see
the face of God with the naked eye causes death. Jesus was called the
“Light of the World” because He taught us how to see the truth.
Light enables us to see more clearly, so it is not surprising that we
find the idea of clarity associated with light. Pir Vilayat (Khan,
1998), in a discussion of the relationship between awakening and illumination,
talks about the “uncreated light of awareness.” The more awake we
are, the more light there is in our auras. It is as if a sudden insight
sets off an explosion of sparks like lightning and they fluoresce throughout
the entire body mind including the subtle bodies. We are reminded
of Shiva’s lightning in the Ajna chakra.
It follows, then, that if we work on ourselves to clear out the old
debris from the past as well as present emotions and agendas, that our
auras will brighten.
Kinds of Light
We have spoken of the moonlight and the lightning of the sixth chakra.
Now let us turn to an examination of several types of spiritual light that
have been identified by Pir Vilayat (Khan, 1998) in his book, Light and
Ecstasy: The Grand Illumination. These are physical light, the all-pervading
light, luminous intelligence and phosphorescent light. Physical light
is familiar to all of us, so I will skip that one.
The all-pervading light is a light field that radiates from a source
in space. It is analogous to the implicate order of Bohm. Unlike
radiant light, this is a light that has no rays but is more like a diffused,
field of light. I am reminded of the ganglia in the brain through
which the neurons pass. It acts like an electromagnetic field.
This is the light that can be drawn within, focused and then radiated outward.
Practice: All-pervading Light
Find a comfortable seat with the back straight and the body relaxed.
Close your eyes and center yourself allowing the intellectual energies to
settle into the hara and become quiescent. When you are quiet, visualize
a vast field of white light up above you. Then see a ray of that
light come down into your body through the top of your head down to your
first chakra. Tense the muscles in that area, inhale the light into
that chakra and hold your breath, saying a short mantra eight times.
Then exhale and relax. Take another deep breath and exhale. Repeat this
for the remaining six chakras. When all chakras are full of light, begin
to breathe through them without tensing or holding and beginning at the third
chakra in the front of the body then proceeding to the first, second, third,
and fourth chakras up the back of your body. Then continue to the seventh
chakra up the back of the head and down to the sixth, ending at the fifth
and returning to the third. This constitutes a circle of light around
the body called the microcosmic orbit. Breathe up the back and exhale
down the front visualizing a circle of light with nectar and ambrosia being
released on the downward stroke.
When you feel yourself completely enveloped in light, extend your hands
with palms turned out toward the front of you and begin to direct the light
outward toward a person or project you would like to bless or heal.
The direction now is from the seventh chakra at the top of the head, down
through the heart and out through the hands. If you wish to heal
your own body, direct the light from your seventh chakra to your heart
and thence to the part affected. Keep in mind that this is Divine
light and remember to offer your gratitude when you are finishing.
Here there is room for confusion. The word intelligence means
something different to different people and in different traditions.
Here I am taking it to mean Purusa’s direct knowledge. That means
it transcends conventional knowledge or information and takes on the quality
of light. It does not belong to us as individuals but is sacred and
transcendental. We experience it as a kind of inner awareness that
is channeled by the Higher Self when all obstacles are removed.
To really get a handle on this, you have to think of yourself as an
extension of the Divine One. You are the vehicle through which the
One sees. And the Divine glance is the luminous intelligence according
to Pir Vilayat (Khan, 1998). It is not consciousness, nor is it clairvoyance.
It is not available to you until you reach a level of purity and clarity
that enables your body to withstand the higher frequency of it and to permit
its passage through you. This is not your glance but the Divine glance.
You are the Divine glance as an extension of the hierarchies of light.
So you have to raise the vibrations of your consciousness to that level.
Pir Vilayat calls this a “light upon light” or a “light within a light”
which you can learn how to cast into the world.
Phosphorescent light is the result of the body burning itself. It involves
the transmutation of infrared light into physical or ultraviolet light.
Pir Vilayat (Khan, 1998) says that the atoms of the cells of the body have
the ability to absorb and emit light, but this is fluorescence. Phosphorescence
means a change in the actual frequencies of light and it takes place
in the subtle body via the chakra system.
This kind of change is a forerunner of transfiguration during which
the entire body is turned into photons of light. It is the process
that governs resurrection. It would be what observers saw when Jesus
ascended into heaven after his crucifixion. However, it can also
be observed in some extraordinary human beings if you are tuned in
to noticing it.
Practice: Transmuting Light
If you feel you are ready for the higher vibrations of sacred light,
secure a copy of Light and Ecstasy by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan.
In this book, you will find more detailed explanations about the four kinds
of light and exercises to enable you to experience them. I recommend
you go very slowly and be willing to stop if you begin to overwhelm.
If you can find a Sufi teacher in your area, that would be the best way to
go about it. Pir Vilayat has a website at www.theuniversel.net, and
you will find more information about light at that location.
I had the privilege of doing a retreat with Pir Vilayat several years
ago during his last visit to the United States. I can assure you
that he practiced what he preached. He was a vision of light incarnate
and positively glowed.
Pir Vilayat was fond of reminding us that we are created from star stuff,
the same chemicals that formed the galaxies. And, as such, we also
carry the same electrons, neutrons and photons. We have just lost touch
with our own light.
The Light Body is an actuality. It contains
several levels of light that correspond to the kosas, i.e., physical body,
etheric body, manas, buddhi and Ananda. Its aura is visible to anyone
who wants to make the effort to learn how to see it. Barbara Brennan
(1988) outlined for us the various levels of light and the lattices that
support them. In her book, Hands of Light, you can see pictures
of the various bodies and how they relate to the chakras. The light
body encompasses all that we are as an individual, and it extends out from
the physical body to about fingertip length. Against a black curtain,
it appears as a white, cloudy egg. In daylight and against a white
background, the aura reveals its colors that vary depending upon the spiritual,
psychological and physical well being of the person. Because this is
so, the condition of a person’s health can be read in the aura. A whole
new field of medical intuitives has become organized around these indicators.
Brennan teaches students how to heal the aura and the chakras with light
and now she has a school in which to do so. Her book has an exquisite
picture of the Celestial Body in full color. In it, you can see the
sparks of light emitted from the light body.
Practice: Light Body
If you still have it, find your copy of The Divine Light Invocation
by Swami Sivananda Radha (1987) and review the instructions for the invocation.
Notice that part of the invocation avers that every cell of the body and
every level of consciousness are illumined by Divine Light. Now practice
the Invocation and visualize your entire body illumined on every level from
cellular to auric. Notice how you feel in your body before and after
this practice and make notes in your journal about what you experienced.
[Note: The Divine Light Invocation can be secured from Timeless Books,
www.timeless.org. They also have a CD of it as well as a video tape.]
Point of Light
You may remember
back in the first guidebook a diagram of the human person as a projection
of the Divine One (see Figure 2). Since
the One is a Being of Light, we can think of ourselves as sparks or points
of that light on earth. This means we are of the same essence as the
Divine One. That idea tallies with the fact that our bodies seem to
be made of light. We have only lost the ability to perceive it.
We have seen how the process of creation or involution involved consciousness
and vibration with the latter being progressively differentiated into form.
The same process obviously occurred with the factor of light since light
is also a vibration. We could call this a spiritual hierarchy and,
in fact, some of the spiritual books refer to such an hierarchy. So
does Alice Bailey who channeled a Tibetan entity. In Christianity we
have saints, angels, archangels, cherabims and seraphims all subsumed under
the deity along with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. There appears to be
a hierarchy in the universe(s), too, with galaxies, solar systems, planets
and moons. Likewise, we carry out this pattern in our societies.
The point is that all of these hierarchies are structures through which
the Absolute One can manifest ItSelf and Its Light of Awareness, Consciousness,
Truth, Love, Purity and Clarity. The joy is that we also partake of
all these good things because we are part of the Whole. The fact that
it is all projection suggests that what we have here is a huge hologram
illumined by Divine Light instead of a laser and one which is as ephemeral
as a hologram is when it appears to our vision. One salient characteristic
of a hologram is that no matter how small or how far removed from the original
source, all parts of it are preserved. The fact that distance tends
to cloud up the details fits with our theory of maya or ignorance.
The role of clarity is to bring us closer to the Source and to sharpen our
image of Ultimate Reality.
“That’s what enlightenment is all about – operating
in the vastness outside of the usual maps of thought” (Tarrant, 2005, p.
Swami Padmananda, one of my mentors at the Ashram where I was trained
used to say that enlightenment means lightening one’s load. She was
referring, of course, to the necessity of detachment or renunciation in
preparing for the light. Someone, I think it was a Buddhist, said
that it is necessary to “let go over a cliff.” Surrender is essential
and a quantum leap is required at the Ajna chakra level because the only
way we can experience what lies beyond our conventional experience is to
let go and make the plunge into the abyss. In order to take the next
step, we have to let go of the one we are standing on.
To get to the light, we have to thread our way through the darkness.
In this case, we must get beyond Asamprajnata and Nirbija Samadhis.
It means letting go of the need to understand intellectually and getting
into the feeling mode of experiencing. It requires trust of the highest
order because it is our very identity as individuals that is at stake here.
Recall that the platform from which we now have to jump is the Atmic plane
which is the last station on the line of individual human existence.
The fear is that we will not know who we are in the next phase of existence.
And there is no way to reassure the ego because it is beyond words.
I, personally, find comfort in the knowledge that others have gone before
me and returned to tell us about the light. They appear to have been
able to use their finer senses of direct perception to witness happenings
in the other realms. And they are able to function in the world while
still remaining in the state of enlightenment. Some Buddhists remind
us that nothing changes, only how we view it. Chop wood and carry
water. . .
Enlightenment means living in the light. That means that, after
we have made the journey and discovered our true identity as the Divine
One, we return to normal everyday life and offer service to others.
This is represented in the Ox-herding pictures as a return to the marketplace.
Such a person may not outwardly appear to be different from one who is not
enlightened; but, to those whose perceptions have been sharpened,
the saint will appear to be full of light and will glow with the all-pervading
light. Many of these people prefer to live alone and avoid popular
gathering places. This may be because of the development of finer vibrations
of perception which makes normal life a bit overwhelming. I remember
coming back into the United States after having been in the Ashram for a
while. It was like a blast of negative energy attacked me. At
the time, a friend told me he could see a curtain come down behind my
Enlightenment also means that we identify ourselves with the Divine
One and take responsibility for Its life in the world around us.
Somehow we are usually prevented from having an ego trip over this, probably
because we have to discipline the ego in order to arrive at this point.
In fact, a sense of humilty is highly appropriate because of the knowledge
that it is not “I” who is doing it, but the One. And experience has
shown us that if ego gets mobilized, the light recedes and lets us do it
on our own which is vastly inferior to what can be achieved with the super
energy of the Absolute.
One of the things implied by selfless service is the circulation of
light in the world. As an enlightened being, we can bring light into
the places in the world that need it most and to bring it to bear on the
most difficult of human problems. That is sorely needed in this time
of worldwide crisis. This can be done by actually going out into the
world as Mother Teresa did or by sending light out through our meditations.
We can choose the format most compatible with our temperaments. In either
case, it is important to surround ourselves with light for protection and
inspiration and to maintain it on a regular basis.
We need to maintain a spiritual practice to keep our batteries charged
and to maintain attunement to the Source. Some form of worship is
a great help as it keeps us humble and expresses our gratitude. It
also helps keep pride in check in order to avoid spiritual materialism.
We can communicate with others through the light. If they are
also tuned in to it, the communication can be two-way. My father,
who was an engineer, used to say that he thought ESP was due to the same
resonating frequencies of brain cells in two compatible people. Given
the discussion above, this theory seems very likely. The whole idea
of attunement is based on vibrations in consciousness. Pir Vilayat
said we could merge with the consciousness of any being if we attuned ourselves
to their frequencies. Sometimes this is called prayer. Chanting
will also do it. So will visualization. And channeling is a
So you do not have to have a guru in a body in front of you. If
you focus your attention and intention on a Being of Light that you wish
to lead you, that Being will reach out to you in turn. One of the
scriptures says that God will take ten steps to our one in order to make
contact with us. Our brains can be thought of as the transducers used
to tune us in. So use the Light practices to clear out your bodyminds
and focus on the Being you wish to contact.
Healing can be done the same way, and you need not be present in the
same space for it to work. Recent research has shown that the power
of prayer can not only work instantly over long distances but also in temporal
Therefore, be well, be happy, be Divine!
In this unit, we have looked at the symbolism of Divine Light as it
stands for the Transcendent One Being. We then examined some of the
various forms, qualities and manifestations of this spiritual Light and
explored how it can be incorporated into our lives.
Almaas, A. (2002). Facets of unity: The Enneagram of
holy ideas. Boston: Shambhala.
Brennan, B. (1998). Hands of light: A guide to healing
through the human energy field. New York: Bantam Books.
Cleary, T. (transl.) (2002). Transmission of light: Zen in
the art of enlightenment. Boston: Shambhala.
Khan, Pir V. (1998). Light and ecstasy: The grand illumination.
New Lebanon, NY: Sufi Order International.
Radha, Sw. S. (1987). The divine light invocation: A
spiritual practice for healing and for realizing the Light within.
Kootenay Bay, B.C.: Timeless Books.
Tarrant, J. (2005). “Paradox, Breakthrough, and the Zen Koan,”
Shift: At the Frontiers of Consciousness, March-May, No. 6, 27.
Woodroffe, J. (1973). The serpent power: Being the Sat-cakra-nirupana
and Paduka-pancaka. Madras: Ganesh &
This completes Unit VI. Light. The next Unit VII. Presence takes up the Presence of
the Divine One as our Essence.
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