Saturday, November 23, 2013

Light again

Were it not for light, nothing whatsoever would be perceived [idrâk], neither the known, nor the sensed, nor the imagined. The names of light are diverse in keeping with the names of the faculties…. Smell, taste, imagination, memory, reason, reflection, conceptualization, and everything through which perception takes place are light. As for the objects of perception… they first possess manifestation to the perceiver, then they are perceived; and manifestation is light…. Hence every known thing has a relation with the Real, for the Real is Light. It follows that nothing is known but God. (Ibn ‘Arabî, al-Futûhât, 1911 edition, 3:276–77)

A little while back, I wrote a piece on light which was based on some of my own direct inner impressions of the nature of light, combined with inferences drawn from the general sense of things in the world of esotericism and mysticism. The subject is in casual for me; I discussed it as far back in 2003 in my book Chakras and the Enneagram.

Today, I'm having some further thoughts on the matter that I want to communicate.

There may be a misunderstanding.

Light does not necessarily mean what we see with our eyes. Seeing is associated with light; the idea is that “light” illuminates, or reveals, the things that it falls on. 

But as the above quote from Ibn Arabi amply demonstrates, the metaphysical properties of light are such that illumination, that is, revelation, can take place in contexts that don’t necessarily involve the organs of sight. Every one of the senses is capable of receiving an illuminated, or revealed, property of Reality through its own capacities; and as we know, hearing, touch, taste, smell, and sight all have particular and special properties that are distinct from one another in their ability to reveal a property of an object. Otherwise we would not differentiate between them.

Each one of these works with vibrations of one kind or another; thus, “light” is actually a form of vibration, and need not be limited in terms of understanding to photons and their action alone. In fact, to do so is to profoundly misunderstand the nature of light, which can be sensed through the organism in ways that the eyes are certainly not capable of sensing. The eyes, in fact, are relatively weak instruments in some ways compared to the perceptive abilities of the cellular organism. Cells are able to sense things on a much more fundamental level than the eyes, which are grossly larger organs.

So what I am trying to say here is that we can see with all of our parts — not just our eyes, or our intellect. We see with our emotive capacities; we see with our sensation. We also see with our instincts and our sexuality. Roughly speaking, these five lower centers are equivalent to the five senses, although the correspondences cannot be drawn quite so directly. But each one of the centers has a capacity to see, that is, to take “light” into itself.

Broadening the term light to include this much wider spectrum of sensory ability may be confusing; yet there is a fundamental truth in it.

We are immersed in sets of information that illuminate and reveal many different aspects of Reality. Because our organisms have become insensitive, much of this information isn’t available to us anymore; but it could be. To become attuned to the action of light is to become attuned to the sacred properties of matter, within this ordinary life, and to actually live in some form of contact with them. 

This isn’t a rapturous excursion into hills and valleys of bliss; this is an existential condition we encounter, which has a degree of objectivity to it that is not specifically attached to an ecstatic emotional response. It can be; but that is not its functional purpose. 

Becoming attuned to this more objective property of seeing, which penetrates into all the parts of the body in a very different way than what we usually call seeing, brings all of life into question in a new way. It also provides some answers; but every answer is actually just a new question that hasn’t been investigated yet. Because of this, the terms question and answer come obsolete; instead of questioning and answering, we inhabit and experience.

Thus, when I and my pieces with the phrase, “may your soul be filled with light,” I may not be referring to what you see with your eyes; and it may not be bright or shining. 

It will, on the other hand, be deeply formed, and contain information and character that is not of a worldly nature, in so far as we usually understand it.

May your soul be filled with light.

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