Unit VI. Light


1.  Light symbolism
2.  Clarity
3.  Kinds of Light
4.  Light Bearers
5.  Point of Light
6.  Enlightenment

Materials needed:  Journal

Books needed:

Light and Ecstasy
The Divine Light Invocation


All-pervading light
Transmuting light

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.

Light Symbolism

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.”

              Therefore 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
               slightest thing 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
               be destroyed.  When you get to know this, it is not emptiness or existence, it is
               not light 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 HiranyagarbhaHiranya 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.

All-pervading Light

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.

Luminous Intelligence

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.

Light Bearers

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. 27).

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 eyes.

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 similar function.  

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 reverse.

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 & Co.

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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