Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Brad ReynoldsBrad Reynolds did graduate work at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) before leaving to study under Ken Wilber for a decade, and published two books reviewing Wilber's work: Embracing Reality: The Integral Vision of Ken Wilber (Tarcher, 2004), Where's Wilber At?: Ken Wilber's Integral Vision in the New Millennium (Paragon House, 2006) and God's Great Tradition of Global Wisdom: Guru Yoga-Satsang in the Integral Age (Bright Alliance, 2021). Visit:


Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

A Brief History
Tour of Light

Seeing with Integral Vision—Part 4

Brad Reynolds

I would like to present these essays on Light—Seeing with Integral Vision—as a multimedia, intellectual-emotional experience, if possible (if you, the reader, will take the time). Thus I have inserted what I call “Mystic Music Movies” (compiled in the spirit of Fair Use) with contributions by many artists (and edited by your author). I hope the music (and talks) will evoke feelings and insights that may help serve the ingestion of the intellectual ideas being presented in these integral essays. Thank you for reading and watching—May we all See and Be the Light! Are you experienced?

5-pointed start
By using the Light,
Return again to the Bright,
And in this way be saved from harm.
This is following Eternity, the Unchanging.

— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 52 (ca. 500 BCE)

Light on Humankind

(engraving by Gustave Dore, colorized)

E ver since most ancient times, before farming and civilization in cities existed, when anatomically-modern human beings, known by science as Homo sapiens sapiens, were still only Paleolithic hunter-gatherers or “cave men,” they would have begun to notice the immense importance of light. They would have seen the Sun rise to bring them the warmth and light of day so they could perform the daily activities necessary for survival and to propagate their species; they would've seen how the light from the fire at night protected them from animals and other dangers of darkness. Light was vital and nourishing, indispensible to human beings, as well as for the entire universe-Kosmos (see my previous essays “Seeing with Integral Visions, Parts 1-3”).

During the long millennia of the Upper Paleolithic (50,000–10,000 BP), or what Joseph Campbell called the “Great Hunt” reaching around the world from Africa to Asia to the Americas (and everywhere else), people began to develop a profound relationship to light. To begin with, it's reasonable to speculate, although there's no direct evidence for it, that in rare instances people may have noticed when someone came close to dying but then returned to life—having a “near-death experience” (NDE)—they no doubt would have reported what they saw and felt. Many would have reported seeing a light above, somewhat hidden, a light unlike any other they had seen in the physical world, more subtle, more alluring. Based upon modern research, science reports thousands of people resuscitated after being medically “dead” universally acknowledge a similar experience. They talk about rising above the body to then look up and see a light beckoning them onward. Thus we can safely assume early humans would have seen the same type of thing. Many people report seeing figures of light, or a “light at the end of a tunnel,” as they began their journey after death, often accompanied by a blissful feeling of ease and contentment, before suddenly returning to their bodily life on Earth. This experience (among others, such as in dreaming or reveries), helped give people their sense of having a soul (or inner essence) that transcends the body. From this intuition (and knowledge) all religions arise.[1]

Since burials were becoming important to these early hunting cultures, then what happened after death was obviously a growing concern… for the day of death always comes.

Since burials were becoming important to these early hunting cultures, then what happened after death was obviously a growing concern… for the day of death always comes. Marked with red ocher and flowers, burials mark some of the first archeological evidence revealing those traits that make us uniquely human. (Neanderthals, prior to fully evolved modern humans, also showed some signs of burials, though not as much, yet they too are part of the human lineage, though extinct.) For modern humans, at least among the gifted few, such as shamans or medicine people, the light appearing after the darkness of death would have held special significance thus influencing their growing collection of myths and rituals. For early humans, it would be obvious that light guides the way, both in “this world” as well as in the “other world.”

Light and its play in Nature also became significant, some scholars surmise, by ingesting certain psychoactive (holotropic) plants, such as “magic” mushrooms or “Soma” (Amanita muscaria), or ayahuasca and peyote (in the Americas), initiating what we now call a “psychedelic” or “entheogenic” experience, the first forms of controlled religious awakenings. With these inner visions, the awesome and mysterious power of light would be seen as being active and alive in both the outer world and inner mind, being the same fundamental light to all existence. Light, as science also discovered millennia later, gives form and life to the organic patterns of plants and animals growing and living on Earth, in the seas, air and on land, which we then consume as food to give us life-energy (see Part 3).

Light from the Sun (during the yearly seasonal cycles), and the light of the Moon (during the monthly cycles of darkness), played central roles in the emerging primordial Goddess cultures of the Upper Paleolithic and early Neolithic villages (after 8000 BCE), some of the earliest forms of human worship and spiritual activity. In simple terms, light was seen as good, yet the darkness was not to be avoided, for opposites make the whole. The cycles of light in the seasons, as well as the necessity of blood for life, played primary roles in the early myths and religious feelings of our most ancient ancestors. This was the period of “Earth Magic” (in Adi Da's words), when the Great Mother was the major deity, surrounded by the “forces” (and deities) of Nature, since survival and nourishment were central to humanity's concerns. Thousands of years would pass before “Sky Magic” began to rise as people looked up to the light of the heavens, and the Astral God, to lead them out of the darkness below (and through the underworld).[2]

Knowledge of light and bringing light to the people was therefore a central part of the Shaman's power and wisdom, the first religious practitioners of the human race. In Europe (and elsewhere), the spectacular cave paintings—some of the world's first art—found in the deepest, darkest recesses of the Earth, would have only come alive with the flickering light provided by flaming oil lamps. These ceremonies were possibly some of the first initiation rituals of humankind; the beginning of the “mystery religions” intended to help people navigate their journey into the next world by following the light. In this world, however, it was the light of the Sun, and the reflected light of the Moon, that lighted the way for ancient people journeying through the yearly seasonal cycles of life, death, and rebirth. In the Americas, the prayer of the Oglala Sioux shaman Black Elk, for example, would praise the rising light of the sun each day:

O Great Spirit, Wakan-Tanka, I have just seen the day, Light of life. There where the sun comes up, You have given the power of wisdom to the Morning Star…. Wakan-Tanka, we give thanks for the Light which You have given to us through the Power of the place where the sun comes up. Help us, O You Power of the east. Be merciful to us![3]

Light is seen to be the power of Life Itself, ever since people could see the spiritual truths behind their harsh human existence. A religious feeling developed that would later be refined over the millennia to become the radiant life of Divine Enlightenment and God-Realization. Death itself could bring great pain and loss, heartache and darkness, but there is a doorway in the corridors of death leading us to the Light of the Great Spirit… soon to be known as God, Brahman, Yahweh, Allah, Tao, et al… The One. This Light gave our ancestors, and us today, a real reason to celebrate, worship, and praise the Great Light of Spirit-Energy that IS Real God.

Festivals of Light: Rebirth of the Sun

A s time went on and farming took hold, the importance of light, and the appearance of the Sun every day and throughout the yearly seasons stimulating the growth of crops, became a central theme in humankind's earliest rituals and religious practices. Throughout the millennia, most of the world's cultures have closely marked and measured the rhythms and patterns of Nature as she goes through her cyclic changes, mostly by participating in solstice and equinox ceremonies to celebrate the relationship of the Earth to the Sun. These ancient “Festivals of Light” would ritualistically enact the union of opposites, of light and dark, life and death, sun and moon, earth and sky.[4] For instance, the important Jewish festival of Hanukkah, called the “Festival of Lights,” is celebrated for eight days either in late November or early December. Its main ritual is the lighting of the menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum holding candles that are lit each day to represent the rekindling of the sanctuary fire in the Temple of Jerusalem.

Another popular celebration known as the Festival of Lights is the Deepawali, abbreviated to Diwali (in popular usage), as practiced in India to this day. One of the most important festivals of the Hindus, Deepawali usually occurs in late October or early November, which according to the lunar calendar, is the darkest night of all nights. The festivities of Diwali transform the desolate moonless night for millions into fiery fields of firecrackers and lighted lamps filled with laughter, happiness, and radiance.[5] Not only does Diwali celebrate the new crop, since it is the end of the rainy season and harvesting cycle, but it's also tied to several legends extending thousands of years into the spiritual legacy of ancient India. Known primarily for honoring the Goddess Lakshmi, who symbolizes wealth and prosperity, it also celebrates the victories of the ancient Avatars Rama and Krishna over demonic forces of darkness and evil. For the Jains, it's the special time for celebrating the attainment of moksha or nirvana (Enlightenment) by their Avatar Mahavira in 527 BCE. The new moon, in the darkest hours of the month, gives rebirth to the return of light… and so it goes, year after year, millennia after millennia.

The winter solstice, on December 21, has also been an major ritual for enacting the return of the light into the physical world as the days begin to get longer again. This is one reason why Decembers 25, three days after the solstice—thus representing the underworld three-day-dead-and-resurrected-god theme from the archaic goddess cultures—has been an important date for the birth of the God-Man or “Son of God,” such as on Christmas Day with the birth of the Messiah (“Anointed One”) Jesus Christ, or with Mithra (in Persia), or Dionysus and Orpheus (in Greece), or Horus (in Egypt), all celebrated on the same day when the Earth turns back to the Sun. Symbolically, as the Earth reaches its farthest distance from the Sun, the return of the “Sun of God” is seen to represent the Divine Light descending into the human world as “Divine Incarnations” or “Avatars” who will teach humanity about the Light of God as being Transcendental Truth—no wonder it's called En-Light-enment.

Light of the Sun as God

Atum-Ra is Light—
the everlasting source of Energy,
the eternal dispenser of Life Itself.
Once Energy has been dispensed,
Its supply is governed by eternal cosmic laws.

—Thoth, The Hermetica (ca. 3000 BCE)[6]

A s the Neolithic villages transformed into the cities of civilization, usually circling around massive temple complexes, the mythic-membership mind grew and came to fruition as consciousness continued to evolve in human beings, both individually and collectively. Light as the Sun, the source of light on Earth, was often heralded as the highest god in a pantheon of many gods and goddesses, each representing a force of Nature. Mythology always reflected the superior importance of light, such as, for instance, when the Egyptian sun god Ra (or Atum-Ra) opened his eyes there was light; when he shut them, there was darkness.[7] As one scholar pointed out: “The gaze of Ra was the light of day. For men and women of that civilization, to stand within daylight was to stand in the sight of their sun-god. The power of vision to illuminate the world was universalized, projected onto the grandest scale, becoming the brightness of day. The gaze of God was light. Light was God seeing.”[8] Light was also central to the architecture of the first stone temples, as in ancient Egypt, or with the megaliths of Stonehenge in the British Isles, or the five thousand year-old mound at Newgrange in eastern Ireland. They were all precisely aligned to the rising or setting sun so a shaft of light would mark a specific time of the year, usually a solstice or equinox, giving them sacred meaning and power. Egypt's earliest capital city, from where the Pharaohs ruled and got their power, was called Heliopolis by the Greeks, “City of the Sun,” one the oldest cities in ancient Egypt. As cities and kingship grew, humanity's attention turned more to the heavens above with “Sky Magic” and “Astral Religions” (in Adi Da's words), turning away from the bloodier rituals of Earth Magic (for example, when Moses brought down the Ten Commandments to find the people worshipping the golden calf, he was bringing the religion of the astral God Yahweh).

In Mesopotamia, in the city of Uruk of ancient Sumer (modern Iraq), there was the “Queen of Light,” known as Inanna, or the “Queen of Heaven,” who was revered for giving humankind agriculture and irrigation, weaving, astronomy, and mathematics.[9] As the Neolithic Goddess cultures of the Earth and agriculture gave way to the emerging astral religions of priesthoods and patriarchy, the Sun god and the heavens above became more important and revered. Nonetheless, as the myths of Inanna shows, the ancients were also wise enough to honor darkness, for otherwise they would disrupt the harmony and balance of nature and life. In many mythic creation myths, the forces of light were often overcome by darkness until a rebirth could occur, usually from the underworld, once again reflecting the importance of Nature's cycles and the rejuvenating properties of the Great Goddess (or the feminine principle). Male-dominated mythologies, such as in Greece, usually associated their supreme deity with light or lightning, the day sky, “the bright,” or “to shine,” which is literally what the name Zeus means (the sky god of ancient Greece, king of the Olympian pantheon of gods and goddesses).

The world's most ancient religious books also confirm humanity's interest in light and its relationship with divinity and to that which is holy.

The world's most ancient religious books also confirm humanity's interest in light and its relationship with divinity and to that which is holy. The Sun, the most obvious source of radiant light and heat in our everyday world, was often worshiped as the supreme deity, often correlating it with the inner light of the soul or Atman (the inner aspect of Brahman, the One God). For example, the Chandogya Upanishad (III.xix.1), a sacred teaching of ancient India openly pronounced: “The sun is Brahman: this is the teaching.” The even more ancient Rig Veda, India's oldest written text (ca. 1500 BCE) reveals, not only was it Surya, the sun, but it's radiance (or “fire”), as Agni, that was held to be the Supreme Light behind all the many lights (that are the opposite of darkness): “I am God Almighty, I am the Light of the world like the sun. Neither defeat, nor death, can ever approach me. I am the controller of the universe, know me alone as the creator of all.” (Rig Veda, 10:48, 5) But the inner light was more than just being about the Sun alone, as the wisest sages began to understand and preach, it was also the light of immortality, beyond existence on this world alone.

Inner Light of Immortality: The Mysteries

This Kosmos [the unity of all that is]
was not made by immortal or mortal beings,
but always was, is and will be an Eternal Fire [Energy],
arising and subsiding in measure… [24]
The lightning [Bright Consciousness] directs everything.

—Heraclitus, fragments (ca. 500 BCE)[10]

T his esoteric search for the light of the inner mind, actually ultimately located in the cave of the heart, culminated in the ancient Mediterranean world with what's known as the “Mysteries,” the most famous being held at Eleusis in Greece for nearly two thousand years, the “navel” or center of the Hellenic world. These “Mystery Religions” initiated people into a sacred knowledge that would serve them later as they died and began to see the “Light” leading them into the realms of the dead. For thousands of years, usually conducted in dark rooms to resemble caves, these rituals of light were considered the most important and sublime experiences of a person's life.

Thus they were held to be “mysteries”—from myste or “to be silent” (covering the mouth)—hence to be kept secret and personal (at the penalty of death if revealed to others). The mouth was covered, as the inner mind spoke with insight and revelations of light. As one scholar noted: “What we know for sure about the mystery religions is that the central human issues of death and rebirth lay at their core. They addressed the adventure of consciousness as it cycles in and out of bodies, back toward itself, the light at the end of the tunnel.”[11] These mystery instructions formed many of the central religious rituals presided over by the earliest priesthoods in the first civilizations, such as in ancient Pharaonic Egypt. Initiations into the secrets of life after death were nearly universal and involved the esoteric (or “hidden”) teachings of the world's wisest individuals—later inscribed into what we now call the “Book of the Dead” (coming from several cultures, from Egypt to Tibet) This sacred knowledge of the light after death has been attested to for millennia, from Egyptian hierophants to Hindu yogis to Tibetan lamas to Taoist “immortals” to Jewish and Christian gnostics, among many others—a “Perennial Philosophy” of wisdom and divine insight. However, these esoteric teachings were usually reserved for the elite or royalty, not the common person.

In ancient Greece, however, the Mysteries were made available to the public (for women and slaves as well), instead of just being reserved for the select priesthoods (like in Egypt or Babylon)—a “democratization of shamanism,” as some scholars have called it.[12] Just prior to the rise of Greek philosophy, what's known as the Orphic tradition, which heavily influenced Pythagoras and Plato (among many others), began with the enlightened teachings of Orpheus (6th c. BCE), a mythical figure to some, but an enlightened master to others. In The Masks of God (1964), Joseph Campbell points out that Orpheus' teaching was “a system both of thought and practice, exactly paralleling that of Indian asceticism, communicated by initiated masters to little circles of devotees.”[13] The Orphics taught that life arose from shining light of Phanes (ancient Greek meaning “I bring to light”), the primordial deity of procreation and the generation of new life. Scholars today suggest Orpheus had brought to Greece the wisdom he had learned in the mystery schools of Egypt, and even possibly from ancient India. Overall, all ancient cultures, from the archaic to the mythic to the mental, realized there was wisdom to be gained in understanding the mysteries of light, both in the outer world of objects illumined by the Sun, and in the inner realm of ideas illumined by the Divine Light of the heart.

Axial Age in the West: Darkness to Enlightenment

This power is in the soul of each person,
and that instrument with which each learns—
just as an eye is not able to turn toward the light
from the dark without the whole body—
we must be turned around from that which is coming into being
together with the whole soul until it is able to endure looking at
that which Is and the brightest part of that which

—Plato, The Republic (cave analogy, ca. 380 BCE)

D uring the Axial Age (between 800-300 BCE) many of the founders of the world's major religions appeared, from Lao Tzu and Confucius in China, to the Buddha and Mahavira in India, to Socrates and the Greek philosophers in the West, to the prophets of the Old Testament in the Middle East. When this new age of humankind initiated the first stages of the mental-rational structure of consciousness—as mapped out by Gebser, Wilber, Thompson, et al,—a sharper division was made between the emerging Sky or astral religions and the previous Earth or etheric religions, a shift from the Great Goddess to, ultimately, the One God of the Father.[14] Mythically, this dualism usually appears with a supreme god, often depicted as a Hero, doing battle with a breakaway god or goddess of darkness. These myths include the Hero fighting bulls and giant reptilian monsters (representing the earlier structures of consciousness), such as with Satan and Yahweh in the Levant, or with Zeus defeating the Typhon in Greece.

During this Axial period, especially in ancient Greece, the “light of reason” began to shine brightly in its most illumined Sages, who would no longer rely on myths alone to explain the kosmos (the “harmoniously ordered universe”) around them. In ancient Persia (modern Iran), there was Ahura Mazda, meaning the “Light of Wisdom,” in constant battle with Angra Mainyu, the “evil/destructive spirit,” as taught by the prophet Zoroaster (known as Zarathustra by the Greeks) during the opening period of the Axial Age. In this newly emerging epoch, these archetypal battles were being more directly reflected within the inner soul of the individual, not just in the mythic stories told by traveling bards and poets (like Homer) to the collective masses. Once again, Joseph Campbell corroborates: “The ancient myth became interiorized, translated from the syntax of earth magic to spiritual initiation; from the work of enlivening the fields to that of enlivening the soul.”[5] By turning to the inner light, Sages began to fully awaken to the deepest (and nondual) truths of the Kosmos and soul (or inner spirit).

Perhaps one of the best-known examples in philosophy is Plato's cave analogy in The Republic (Chapter 25), where he tells us that there are prisoners in a cave who have been chained to a wall for their entire lives with their backs to the opening of the cave, concealing the bright light shining in. Since they were restrained, they can only see the shadows of puppets on the wall in front of them, thus taking these illusions to be reality. Yet, if they could be unchained, so they could turn around to see that the light that was creating the shadows, Plato wondered what they would do. Would they even be able to see anything at all since they'd be so dazzled by the light's brilliance, or would they turn back to the dim world of shadows they knew before? Plato summarized his principle point of the parable that was intended “to illustrate the degrees in which our nature may be enlightened or unenlightened”:

Our account signifies that the soul of every man does possess the power of learning the truth and has the organ to see it with; and that, just as one might have to turn the whole body round in order that the eye should see light instead of darkness, so [in a similar manner] the entire soul must be turned away from this changing world, until its eye can bear to contemplate reality and that supreme splendor which we have called the Good.[16]

Light, quite simply, since the most ancient times has always been associated with the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, or the positive values for human life and love. As a new form of individuality (or ego) emerged after 2000 BCE this ultimately led to the rise of monotheism and worship of the One God, the Supreme Light or Creator of all. For instance, during his reign in Egypt, the Pharaoh Akhenaton (d. 1336 BCE) installed Aton, the sun god, to be the One God superceding all the others in the Egyptian pantheon, perhaps inspiring Moses to raise Yahweh to superior status when he lead the Jewish people in their exodus to the Holy Land (ca. 1300 BCE). And let us not forget, God appeared to Moses as fire, the brilliant blazing light of a burning bush. All illuminations and revelations of God to the ancients, whether in myths or meditation, usually involved the vision of light, both seen and felt to be the most real reality of all.

Axial Age in the East: Enlightenment to the Bright

O son of noble family, when your body and mind separate [at death],
the dharmata [Clear Light Void] will appear, ,
pure and clear yet hard to discern, luminous and brilliant,,
with terrifying brightness, shimmering like a mirage on a plain in spring.,
Do not be afraid of it, do not be bewildered.,
This is the natural radiance of your own dharmata,,
Therefore recognize it.
—Padmasambhava, Bardo Thodol (ca. 8th-century CE)[17]

I n India, the Vedas (ca. 1500 BCE) gave way to the light of the Upanishads (ca. 800 BCE), which used rational discourses and meditative contemplation, not myths, to encourage seekers to find the light within the heart in order to overcome the darkness of ignorance. In China, however, Taoism associated the light with the all-embracing Tao, the mysterious “Way” of existence wasn't in direct battle with darkness but embraced both as the harmonious play of opposites. As another example, Lao Tzu's eighty-one stanzas of the Tao Te Ching (“The Way and Its Power”) illuminate the Tao (or Divine Nature) behind the opposites (of yin-yang), harmonizing the Absolute Light (of Heaven) with the relative light (of Earth). This is a universal theme repeated throughout the Perennial Philosophy (birthed most brightly during the Axial Age).

By the height of the Axial Age (ca. 500 BCE), it wasn't only the fight between good and evil that light represented for ancient civilizations, especially for their wisest spiritual leaders, but it was a mystical light found within. As mysticism evolved for these advanced-tip few (from Shamans to Saints to Sages to Siddhas), what become most important was to become “en-LIGHT-ened” or to directly realize God Itself—the Ultimate Reality that goes beyond the play of relative light and darkness in the phenomenal world or as expressed by the mythic battles between deities and human beings. Enlightenment or Real God-Realization, the pinnacle of human development in the evolution of consciousness, is discovering the same Absolute Light creating the entire universe (Brahman) is also the Supreme Self (Atman) found within, the very essence of self and soul, kosmos and universe.

The Katha Upanishad (where upanishad literally means “sitting close to one's teacher”) is based around a conversation of a young seeker who is inquiring of Yama, the Lord of Death, on how to be freed from the shackles of mortality in order to attain immortality. Yama, encapsulating the Wisdom of the Ages, clearly explains:

The knowing Self [Atman] is not born; It does not die. It has not sprung from anything; nothing has sprung from It. Birthless, eternal, everlasting, and ancient. It is not killed when the body is killed. (I.ii.18)
Atman, smaller than the small, greater than the great, is hidden in the hearts of all living creatures. A man who is freed from desires beholds the majesty of the Self through tranquility of the senses and the mind and becomes free from grief. (I.ii.20)
The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor these lightnings—not to speak of this fire. He shining, everything shines after Him. By His Light all this is lighted. (II.ii.15)
That root, indeed, is called the Bright; That is Brahman, and That alone is the Immortal. In That all worlds are contained, and none can pass beyond. This, verily, is That. (II.iii.1)
Whatever there is—the whole universe—vibrates because it has gone forth from Brahman, which exists as its Ground…. Those who know It become immortal. (II.iii.2)
His form is not an object of vision; no one beholds Him with the eye. One can know Him when He is revealed by the intellect free from doubt and by constant meditation. Those who know this become immortal. (II.iii.9) Let him know that Self as the Bright, as the Immortal—yea, as the Bright, as the Immortal. (II.iii.17)[18]

This, of course, is similar to the teachings of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni as well, who wisely instructed his followers during the Axial Age: “There are, O monks, these four lights. What four? The light of the moon, the light of the sun, the light of fire, and the light of wisdom. Of these four lights, the light of wisdom is supreme.”[19] Hence the “Awakened One” (the literal meaning of “Buddha”) reminds everyone: “Truth is beyond letters and words and books…. These teachings are only a finger pointing to Noble Wisdom… intended for the consideration and guidance of the discriminating minds of all people, but they are not the Truth itself, which can only be self-realized within one's deepest consciousness.”[20] By the time of Tibetan Buddhism, over a thousand years later, this ineffable light of Buddha-Nature, which is indescribable or “empty” (Sunyata), would simply be called the “Clear Light” or the “Clear Light Void,” the luminous essence of the Dharmakaya, the divine “body” of Buddha, and the Dharmadhatu, the matrix (or “womb”) of reality (also known as “Suchness” or Tathagatagarbha) (see Part 2).

In a similar manner, the famous Zen scholar D. T. Suzuki explained: “Light is symbolic of wisdom in Buddhism, and this light is none other than the Buddha of Infinite Light (Amitabha).”[21] This wisdom led the Gautama Buddha to tell his favorite devoted disciple, Ananda, in the Sukhavativyuha Sutra, the “Land of Bliss” Teaching about Amitabha, the Buddha of Immeasurable Light:

Because of his majestic and celestial radiant light, the Buddha of Measureless Life is the first among the Most Honored Ones. The radiant light of all the Buddhas cannot surpass the light of this Buddha…. This is why the Buddha of Measureless Life is called the Buddha of Measureless Light, the Buddha of Boundless Light, the Buddha of Unimpeded Light, the Buddha of Unopposed Light, the Buddha Monarch of Flaming Lights, the Buddha of Pure Light, the Buddha Light of Joy, the Buddha Light of Wisdom, the Buddha of Uninterrupted Light, the Buddha of Inconceivable Light, the Buddha of Ineffable Light, and the Buddha of the Light that Surpasses Sun and Moon.[22]

Consequently, as another example, The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation refers to this Absolute, Measureless Light as the “Clear Light Void” that appears after a person dies before their soul transitions into the bardos (or the “in-between” realms of death and rebirth). As one modern-day Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoche explains: “This training of realizing the clear light during the sleeping process is a preparation for being able to recognize the clear light during the dying process.”[23] This is why the revered sacred text of Tibet, also known popularly as The Tibetan Book of the Dead, instructs those going through the dying process to first find the Clear Light:

O son of noble family, when your body and mind separate, the dharmata [essence of reality] will appear, pure and clear yet hard to discern, luminous and brilliant, with terrifying brightness, shimmering like a mirage on a plain in spring. Do not be afraid of it, do not be bewildered, This is the natural radiance of your own dharmata [essence of self], therefore recognize it.[24]

In the Bhagavad Gita, India's most popular sacred text written near the end of the Axial Age (ca. 300 BCE), the avatar Krishna, as Supreme Guru, appears before the warrior Arjuna at one point to reveal the magnificence and brilliance of his True Divine Form, thus allowing his devotee to have the enlightened experience seeing the Transcendental Reality (or Real God). Arjuna shakes with the feeling of mysterium tremendum (or “fearful awe”) as he witnesses the gigantic multi-armed deity of the Lord filling the sky radiating brilliance, splendor, and light:

If the light of a thousand suns were to rise in the sky at once, it would be like the Light of that Great Being. (12) Then filled with amazement, his hair standing on end, Arjuna bowed his head to the Lord, joined his hands in homage, and spoke: (14) “I see blazing through the fiery rays of your crown, mace, and discus, hard to behold in the burning light of fire and sun that surrounds your measureless presence. (17)
You are the original God, the primordial spirit of humankind, the deepest treasure of all that is, Knower and what is to be known, the Supreme Abode; You pervade the universe, Lord of Boundless Form. (38)

After Krishna descended from His Boundless Divine Form into his bodily human incarnation form once again as Arjuna's two-armed Guru and dear friend, he reminded his devotee that the Supreme State is the Light of Pure Consciousness, even beyond visions and miracles: “Arjuna, the Lord resides in the heart of all creatures… With your whole being, take refuge in God alone—from His Grace you will attain the eternal place that is peace.”[25] (Bhagavad Gita, 18:60-61) It is wisdom teachings such as these, valid for every generation (even in the Modern and Integral Age) that allows them to be honored for millennia. Indeed, we can see this enlightened wisdom in the Master's eyes.

In this case, as the wisdom traditions persistently teach, this Supreme Light is not simply luminosity or visions of subtle lights to fascinate the mind in ecstatic states of illumination. The Divine Light of the Heart transcends the subtle lights of mind and yogic experiences. The master yogis themselves warn of these less-than-supreme samadhis (or meditative ecstasies), as does Patanjali, compiler of the Yoga Sutras (3.33-3.37), who cautions that temporary flashes of illumination alone can become obstacles to genuine Enlightenment—or complete self- transcendence (“ego-death”)—as taught by the fully Awakened Adepts and Siddha-Gurus. Only true Enlightenment as God-Realization is the final goal, yet it was always already present from the very beginning (and at all times).

Light in Western Religions

These things we write unto you, that your Joy may be full.
This then is the message which we have heard of Him,
and declare unto you, God is Light,
and in Him no darkness at all.
If we walk in the light, as He is in the light,
We have fellowship with one another.

—1 John, 1:5, 7, The Bible, New Testament

S cholars of comparative religion have noted that this experience of Arjuna being overwhelmed by seeing the radiant divinity of Krishna is similar to the blinding vision of luminosity Saul of Tarsus had on his way to Damascus to become Saint Paul, prophet of Jesus Christ.[26] Although much less descriptive, The Bible (Acts, 9: 3, 6) tells us: “Suddenly there shined round about him a light from Heaven. And Saul fell to the earth, trembling and astonished.” This revelation is in harmony with Jesus Christ's personal proclamation (John 8:12): “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The religious traditions of the West, of course, have always noted the union of God and Light from the very beginning of Creation. The opening chapter of Genesis (1:3-4) begins with the stark command: “God said: 'Let there be light!' and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good.” In the beginning, was the Light of God; the same beginning of our Universe Story told in these essays (see Parts 1-2). In our story, therefore, it wasn't just a “Big Bang” of radiant “energy,” but the radiant effulgence of Divine Light as the creative Spirit of God—Spirit-in-action—that created the Kosmos-universe. In this way, the Integral Vision is able to link modern science with ancient wisdom. One of the final chapters of the Bible in the New Testament, attributed to John the Evangelist (between the years 95–110 CE), outright declares (1 John 1:5): “God is Light, and in him is no darkness at all,” before later simply stating (1 John 4:8): “He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is Love.” Light, which is Divine Love (Eros), therefore, is a very profound matter because not only is it God (Brahman) but is consciousness, the Supreme Self (Atman), both being One Invisible Truth: Only God, God Only.

The Qur'an, Islam's holy book, also affirms a similar understanding of the Divine, for light is one of the ninety-nine Beautiful Names of Allah, named “Al Nur”—The Light. In this Sura (Qur'an 24:35) it is openly declared: “Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.” Following this statement is the “Parable of Light,” one of the most famous and commented upon verses in the Qur'an. Like all major religions, the Qur'an (2:257) also explains that “Allah is the Protector of those who have faith; from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into Light.” This is one of the reasons Allah calls the Prophet Muhammad “an illuminating lamp,” one even greater than the sun and the moon (Qur'an 33:46). According to Muslims, the light of the Prophet shines through all levels of existence, in the material, intermediacy, and spiritual worlds, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and disbelief, and thus is destined to shine across the ages till the end of time.[27]

Judaism, the Hebrew religion, the other major Western religion descended from the patriarch Abraham, also sees the spiritual significance of light. The esoteric wing of Judaism, as expressed in Kabbalah, goes to the heart of this matter. For example, the Zohar (I, 156a), the foundational text of Kabbalah, sees light as being both absolute and relative, as unmanifest and manifest: “When the Holy One, Blessed Be He, wished to create the world He brought forth a single hidden [absolute] light so that from this light all the revealed [relative] lights would emerge and shine.”[28] Thus, Ein-Sof, the “unlimited,” the Kabbalistic name for God as Absolute (the formless or unmanifest God), is the hidden aspect of light that gives rise to ayin, a void which forms the energetic and creative aspect of light (which in turn creates the ten sefirot).

Astrophysicist and Kabbalah student Bernard Haisch summarized the situation in his book The God Theory (2006): “A kind of light emanates out of the Absolute to fill this void [ayin]. The flowing of this light through the void activates the potential within it. The nothingness of the void, heretofore purely potential, is elevated into a manifest reality by this divine light.”[29] Consequently, since each person is a microcosm of this process, Rabbi Menachem explains its relevance for the Jewish people: “'Light' is the purpose of each Jew: that he/she transforms his/her situation and environment to light. Not merely by driving out the darkness (evil) by refraining from sin, but by changing the darkness itself to light, by positive commitment to good.”[30] Once more light is leading the way for a deeper understanding, both scientifically and spiritually, in the great traditions of humankind.

Consciousness as Light: One with God

Spiritual World
(painting by Alex Grey)

A s we have reviewed by looking at the various religions and philosophies of the Great Tradition, and as scholars today tell us: “In ancient times, light was regarded as Divine, and as essentially synonymous with the highest form of consciousness…. [and because of this] humanity's task was to become one with the Divine Light, to develop a corresponding consciousness.”[31] Atman, the inner light (or primordial consciousness), is one with Brahman, the outer light that creates and is the ever-present Source-Condition of the entire evolving universe. Finding this out takes Yoga or the disciplined practice of esoteric (or true) religion. Knowing this is God-Realization—or Divine En-Light-tenment—traditionally known as gnosis, prajna, bodhi, rigpa, satori, et al. Ultimately, it is a state-stage of consciousness that transcends all logic and reason, for it is a divine revelation of the heart gained only through “ego-death” or utter self-transcendence of the mind-I, which is why it's so slippery and hard to speak about. Yet, it has been the universal confession of our wisest ancestors for all human history.

Thousands of years after the Axial Age, enlightened Adepts living in the modern era still affirm this same essential and perennial truth: “Light or energy is often used as a metaphor for consciousness in the considerations of philosophy. And, ultimately, the subject of light or energy is identical to the subject of consciousness.”[32] Huston Smith, the world-renowned scholar of world religions also insists: “Light itself, without which no images would be possible, corresponds to pure consciousness…. Consciousness proper—pure consciousness, consciousness with no images imposed upon it—is the common property of us all.”[33] To repeat, again, our principle integral thesis is really this simple: God = Consciousness = Energy = Light; yet, of course the Divine is paradoxically ineffable and beyond qualification or definition (or “empty,” sunya). This “light” cannot be known, calculated, or measured by the Eye of Mind, but only realized via the Eye of Spirit by opening the heart (the source of our inner light). Come and see (and feel) for yourself!

In the human bodymind there is an esoteric anatomy by which the Light circulates and flows to provide the Life-Energy of our individual existence. This anatomy of subtle energies (or “winds”) flows and originates from the Absolute Light Above (and beyond) the head that descends to the heart on the right side, at the point of the pacemaker (or sinoatrial node), the causal origin of our consciousness (the abode of atman). This primal current is known as Amrita Nadi (the “immortal current of bliss”) or Atma Nadi for it's grounded in the heart, not the mind (but is the root of the brain-mind's consciousness). From the heart (on the right) the subtle energies flow through the frontal and spinal lines to initiate the rise of kundalini through the chakras (or “wheels”) of Yoga up to the highest centers in the core and crown of the brain. With each inhalation and exhalation of the breath, the Light as Life-Energy flows through our bodymind radiating to Infinity—the “Circle of Conductivity” (in Adi Da's words). Yoga and meditation practices of esoteric mysticism (the “Conscious Process”) are about opening and surrendering to, then circulating and cultivating, the light-energy of our deepest soul (Atman) until the ego-self dissolves and consciousness realizes Brahman (Real God), the “Bright” awareness of Consciousness Itself. This awakening to God-Realization is what en-light-ens us to our True Condition: Abiding in (and as) Real God, right here and now.

To know God for real—as a direct experience—as the Mystics have always taught, requires great discipline and training to initiate “ego-death” (or the transcendence of the self-mind)—as well as Grace (or divinely fortunate “coincidence,” i.e., synchronicity). Therefore, the light of wisdom is subtle and hard to discern, like treading a razor's edge (as the Upanishads say). Popular religions, which are often egoically-based myths and mental philosophies (i.e., “mind-forms”) are so culturally prejudiced they often distract people from the real process of Enlightenment (i.e., transcending self and society). Nonetheless, since the Light of Consciousness is always already the case, then it's truly possible to realize once ego-self is surrendered. As Ken Wilber keenly stated in his first writings: “Put simply, that in you right now which knows, which sees, which reads this page—that is the Godhead, Mind, Brahman, and it cannot be seen or known as an object, just as an eye cannot see itself.”[34] God is ever-present, or “always already the case” (in Adi Da's words), waiting to be re-cognized or known again—this is seeing with Integral Vision.

Yet, remember, the Absolute Light is not “a thing,” not an actual measurable substance (or energy) although it paradoxically is the real “Substance” or “Ground” of all elemental and subtle realities—the “Ground of Being,” as it's often termed. As the modern Indian saint Babuji pointed out: “When we talk of 'light' the idea of luminosity becomes prominent and we begin to take it as glittering. But Real Light carries with it no such sense and may be represented as 'light without luminosity.' It refers only to the real substance or, more appropriately, to 'substanceless substance'.”[35] This is the Fundamental Light that all the great Sages and Adepts point to, whether Buddhism or Vedanta, whether named “Clear Light Void” or “Inner Light,” respectively.

God is the Absolute Transcendent Light, not just the relative light of photons and electromagnetic waves we experience with our bodies in Nature (but all that too). Then we happily discover both Brahman and Buddha, Vedanta and Buddhism, indeed all esoteric Enlightenment Traditions, are speaking about the same One Nondual Truth revealed in Transcendental Awakening. This view of Prior Unity is confirmed by Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman, and popular Vedantic-scientist Deepak Chopra, who share an enlivening discussion certainly worth watching (that covers many of the major themes in these essays):

“God and Buddha” – Robert Thurman and Deepak Chopra

As we've seen, Avatar Adi Da calls Real God by the descriptor “Conscious Light,” a clearer name for the Nondual Godhead since it includes Consciousness (Shiva) and Light-Energy (Shakti) as One Reality (Shiva-Shakti). Then we may discover what “True Religion” is really about, as the great Mahashiddha continues to explain:

True Religion is founded on the Self-Evident Reality of Light.… True Religion is the Esoteric Science (or Luminous Sacred Process) of Direct (and directly ego-transcending) investigation of (or enquiry into) Light Itself…. True Religion is the Esoteric Science (or true Divine Way) of Truly Knowing (and, thereby, Being) the Unbroken Light.[36]

True Religion, in other words, is the esoteric or innermost “religion” taught by the Sages of the Perennial Philosophy, the Great Wisdom Tradition of humankind. If the three strands of knowledge verification are used—(1) injunction, (2) apprehension, (3) confirmation—then this yogic religion becomes a “science,” an esoteric science based on experiments and verification. True Religion is the “religion” of yogic disciplines, including many hours of meditation and self-transcending contemplation. As the twentieth-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger recognized, there is a significant amount of practice needed to open the Eye of Spirit: “Meditative thinking does not just happen by itself any more than does calculative thinking. At times it requires a greater effort. It demands more practice. It is in need of even more delicate care than any other genuine craft.”[37] Thus, it is not easy to see with the Eye of Spirit (similar to or exceeding a university education); it takes practice and doing the injunctions, actually doing the yoga, not just reading about them (or wondering about it). Then we see the Kosmos as Divine Light—the arising of all forms from the Emptiness of Clear Light Void—seeing all existence as Consciousness Itself, Buddha-Nature, or what's termed “Mind-Only” in Buddhist translations, a constant theme of all the Enlightenment Traditions. It's simple as well as beautiful, full of love and happiness.

From the Absolute Fundamental Light of Consciousness the Big Bang arises, and the rest is history, Big History. If the Big Bang or the primordial moment of creation was anything, even according to science, it was an unimaginable burst of light-energy flaring forth as an indescribable fireball of unprecedented proportions. This blast of energy, which is forever conserved (i.e., it cannot be destroyed but only transformed)—the First Law Of Thermodynamics—goes on to unfurl all matter and mass and light in existence (see Parts 1-2). The energy of the Big Bang is foaming forth an endless sea of churning forms composed of gross and subtle (and other) energies evident as the recognizable realms or hierarchical levels and spheres of existence (physis, bios, nous, theos), the “Great Nest of Spirit” (in Wilber's words).

This primal energy of the universe, the Light of God, is constantly undergoing evolutionary phases of transformation that lead to increasing complexification and integration. This creates a graded (AQAL) natural hierarchy (or nested holarchy) of exteriors and interiors, reaching from high to low, from gross to subtle to causal, “all the way up, all the way down” (as Heraclitus said). In this view, both energy and consciousness are ultimately One as Absolute Indivisible Light (or God), and thus they're accurately seen and understood as Spirit-in-action or Spirit-at-play—creating and permeating every conditional world, manifesting all forms, every living being, including all exterior or interior possibilities. As we've seen, from this view the entire Kosmic Mandala is a grand and sacred display of Spirit-Energy or God-Light-at-play (arising in every quadrant, on every level, as every state, at every stage, etc.).

The idea of “Energy” (as the summation of all energy) has, therefore, in a certain sense, become the scientific name for “God,” the Creator of the universe, the Prime Mover, the First Cause, “the Force” bringing everything into existence. This insight inspired Ananda Coomaraswamy, a twentieth-century perennial philosopher, to conclude that even a scientist must “postulate the reality of some abstract entity as 'Energy'—a word that is nothing but one of the names of God.”[38] Ken Wilber, in his first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977) understood well the hidden paradox found within Light-Energy as seen by science, yet truly only understood by the Mystic:

This vital Energy is therefore of the timeless Moment of Eternity, and thus of Brahman, Mind [Consciousness], Tao. It is Reality itself. Initially it might seem odd to describe the Godhead as Energy, but on reflection, the word “energy” is no less accurate than any number of other descriptive words, all of which are doomed by their finiteness and duality to fail in grasping the infinite and non-dual, for even the word “non-duality” is dualistic because it excludes “duality.” We are using “non-duality” in its “absolute” sense of “not two, not one,” as being synonymous with sunyata, void, and in this sense “energy” will do just as well.[39]

Therefore, a more mature Integral Vision wants to honor all the levels by avoiding “category errors,” or confusing one “Eye of Knowing” for another, thus discouraging the elevation of one level above the others (whether physical or spiritual), such as with materialism or scientism. More holistically, seeing with Integral Vision embraces all the spheres of existence and domains of knowledge acquisition as being crucial components making up the whole, with each part grounded in Nondual Spirit (or the Indivisible Light of Prior Unity). With such an integral understanding that honors the findings of both science and spirituality as being “true and partial,” we find that Spirit-Energy and God are actually one and the same since they are both aspects of One Light, both Absolute and manifest, realizing that everything is always already Divine.

Ken Wilber's Integral Theory (ca. 2000 CE), in all its phases and modified versions, fundamentally rests in this basic (enlightened) insight: “Because Spirit manifests itself only in and as the world of form—of apparently separate things and apparently different events, of seeming separation and isolation and alienation—it is in this diverse world that we must begin our search for the One beyond the Many, our Primordial Ground [that is Divine].”[40] Any one or any critic who does not get this realization, only seen with the Eye of Spirit, is off-base to dismiss the transpersonal philosopher-pandit Wilber for being “spiritual,” or mockingly (as Visser claims), for presenting “enchanted” theories, not scientific formulas. “Integral” seems to be missing the point of the real Integral Vision. Integralists love Ken Wilber exactly because he says this so clearly (and directly) while pointing to the Nondual mode of knowing yet still honoring science and psychology, physics and evolutionary biology, and so on, even as “orientating generalizations.” This, then, is the path or way of being Real Integral.

As one wonderful example of an integral visionary, Lex Hixon (1941–1995) was a producer and moderator of a two-hour radio show in the 1970s called “In the Spirit” (broadcast in NYC) where he interviewed countless spiritual teachers and seekers during those pregnant times. Hixon embodied the true Perennial Philosopher, for not only was he an ordained Sufi, but he had studied under the highly-respected scholars and Swamis Nikhilananda and Prabhavananda, yet he was also ordained in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, in addition to studying with Jewish Rabbis and masters of Kabbalah, as well as being schooled in meditation under Tibetan Rinpoches and Zen Masters, let alone being a world famous devotee-teacher of the Ramakrishna Order. Hixon wrote wonderful scholarly yet accessible books on each of the major religions based on his mastery of their esoteric teachings, each of which I highly recommend. Plus, the American scholar wrote a book Wilber has called “the single best introductory book ever written on the world's great mystical traditions,” titled Coming Home: The Experience of Enlightenment in Sacred Traditions (1978, 1989, 2004). Hixon held a doctorate in philosophy and religion from Columbia University as he expertly and eloquently reveals that in attaining Enlightenment we are privileged to see the Clear Light of God in every little thing and every living person, in all religions and as all phenomena:

Can we experience Reality only indirectly? What and where is the Source of this Light? Such inquiry leads us deeper into contemplative thinking, and as our contemplation intensifies, a surprising reversal of perspective occurs. This is the experience of Enlightenment, through which we cease to imagine ourselves simply within this cathedral of the human mind. We become aware that the essence of our consciousness is the essence of the Light that illuminates the countless windows. We realize Consciousness to be the Light which constitutes all phenomena. We are always shining outside the cathedral, but there is nothing out there to see, only to be. Our True Nature alone is there: Divine Radiance, or Ultimate Consciousness. Particular experiences can occur only through particular windows, but we are the Clear Light that the human mind, which has created this vast cathedral, refracts through all its languages and images…
Through dedicated contemplation of even a single window [religious path], we can attune to Light, or Reality, and eventually realize that our intrinsic nature is this Light. Once realizing the universal cathedral to be flooded with the conscious Light of our True Nature, once Enlightenment has dawned, we are at home everywhere…. We now recognize the Light, or Consciousness, which we are, which all beings are, which Being is.[41]

Professor Huston Smith also makes it clear and plain: “Light is a universal metaphor for God, and what science has discovered about physical light helps us understand (more profoundly than even the spiritual giants of the past could do) why light is uniquely suited for that role.”[42] Science, in other words, with its understanding of the paradoxical (and mysterious) nature of relative light can also help guide us in our contemplation of Absolute Light (see Parts 1-3 of these essays). And because of this, we can tell a new Kosmos Story of “Spirit-in-action,” of God creating a universe as the play of light (projected with photons), that mysterious power of energy without weight or mass fundamental to all things, forms, and processes. The physicist-turned-metaphysician Peter Russell, who studied with Stephan Hawking, also confirms the same perennial message contained in all the world's wisdom traditions: “God is Light. God is said to be absolute—and in physics, so is light. God lies beyond the manifest world of matter, shape, and form, beyond both space and time—and so does light. God cannot be known directly—nor can light.”[43] The egoic-self can't know for sure, but the True Self (Atman) always and already knows … and sees God's Light everywhere, as reality. This Wisdom Chain links us with the wisest ancestors of our past, the Spiritual Heroes, men and women, pointing us to our sacred future… if we see it and behave properly, act accordingly with love, wisdom, and compassion. It's up to us!

This indescribable “substance” of Light, Divine Light, that literally makes up everything is the same “stuff,” according to the mystics the world over, which can be seen and measured objectively as energy (or exteriors), yet while also known and experienced subjectively as consciousness (or interiors), each occurring simultaneously, mysteriously, paradoxically—Conscious Light. In AQAL Metatheory, the forms of energy are the Right-Hand quadrants of “It” and “Its” (or individual and collective exteriors), while the Left-Hand quadrants of “I” and “We” (or individual and collective interiors) are the forms of consciousness, all interacting, intermeshed, and intertwined. In both (or all four quadrants) God is “Ground and Goal.” Or as Avatar Adi Da perfectly summarizes: “Conscious Light is Real God.” We are It! We are the Light!

What a God-intoxicating Miracle!

5-pointed start

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four


[1] See: God: A Human History of Religion (2017) by Reza Aslan.

[2] See: Adi Da Samraj, “The Old Religions the New Scientism, and the Awakening of the Psyche,” in Vision Mound, Vol. 2, No. 9, May 1979.

[3] Black Elk, The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux recorded and edited by Joseph Epes Brown (1953, 1989), pp. 40-41.

[4] See: Suzan Donleavy-Johnston, “Festivals of Fire and Flames: Marking the Turnings of the Year” in Parabola, “Light” issue, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2001, p. 26.

[5] Rama Devagupta, “Kindling the Deepa: The Tales Behind the Hindu Festival Lamps” in Parabola, “Light” issue, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2001, p. 79.

[6] The Hermetica: The Lost Wisdom of the Pharaohs (1999) translated by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, p. 38.

[7] Christian Wertenbaker, “The Eye of the Beholder: Paradoxes of the Visible Universe” in Parabola, “Light” issue, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2001, p. 44

[8] Arthur Zajonc, Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind (1993, Oxford University Press), p. 39.

[9] Madronna Holden, “Light Who Loves Her Sister Darkness: The Peril of Rejecting the Night” in Parabola, “Light” issue, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2001, p. 38.

[10] See: Remembering Heraclitus (2000) by Richard Geldard, p. 45: “Zeus was known as Bright Consciousness and the controlling power among the immortals. His chief symbol was the thunderbolt with which he maintained power over the cosmos.” I might also add a quote from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad V.ii.3: “That very thing is repeated by the heavenly voice, in the form of thunder, as 'Da!' 'Da!' 'Da!'…. They say that lightning is Brahman.”

[11] Linda Johnsen, Lost Masters (2006), p. 14.

[12] See: David Ulansey, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World (1991).

[13] Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God (Vol. 3): Occidental Mythology (1964), p. 183.

[14] See: Adi Da Samraj, “The Old Religions the New Scientism, and the Awakening of the Psyche,” in Vision Mound, Vol. 2, No. 9, May 1979.

[15] Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God (Vol. 4): Creative Mythology (1968), p. 26.

[16] Plato, The Republic (1950), translated by F. M. Cornford, p. 232

[17] The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo (2000) translated with commentary by Francesca Fremantle and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, p. 41.

[18] Katha Upanishad in The Upanishads (1964) translated by Swami Nikhilananda, pp. 73, 80-81.

[19] Gautama Buddha, Anguttara Nikaya 4:143; II 139 from In the Buddha's Words (2005), edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi, p. 321.

[20] Gautama Buddha, Lankavatara Sutra in A Buddhist Bible (1938, 1970), edited by Dwight Goddard, p. 311, 293.

[21] D. T. Suzuki, Buddha of Infinite Light (1998), p. 13.

[22] See: Luis O. Gomez, The Land of Bliss: The Paradise of the Buddha of Measureless Light (1996) quoted in Parabola, “Light” issue, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2001, pp. 35-36.

[23] Padmasambhava, Natural Liberation: Padmasambhava's Teaching on the Six Bardos (1998), translated by B. Alan Wallace, Commentary by Gyatrul Rinpoche, p. 166.

[24] The Tibetan Book of the Dead (1975), translated with commentary by Francesca Fremantle & Chögyam Trungpa, p. 41.

[25] Bhagavad Gita translated by Barbara Stoler Miller (1986), pp. 151-152.

[26] See: Rama Devagupta, “Kindling the Deepa” in Parabola, “Light” issue, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2001, p. 76.

[27] Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi, “The Light of the Prophet” (accessed 9/11/12).

[28] Zohar I, 156a quoted in Let There Be Light (2006) by Howard Smith, p. 42

[29] Bernard Haish, The God Theory (2006), p. 116.

[30] Rabbi Menachem, M. Schneerson, “A Hidden Illumination” in Parabola, “Light” issue, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2001, p. 72; from Torah Studies: Discourses (1997) by Lubavitcher Rebbe (Author), Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (Author), Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (Author, Translator). [gender neutrality added]

[31] Christian Wertenbaker, “The Eye of the Beholder: Paradoxes of the Visible Universe” in Parabola, “Light” issue, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2001, p. 44 [caps added].

[32] Adi Da Samraj, “The Three Views of Consciousness and Light” in Nirvanasara (1982), p. 117.

[33] Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters (2001), p. 265

[34] Ken Wilber, The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977), CW 1: p. 334 in The Simple Feeling of Being (2004), p. 145

[35] Shri Ram Chandra of Shahajahanpur from Voice Real quoted in “Kindling the Deepa” by Rama Devagupta in Parabola, “Light” issue, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2001, p. 78

[36] Adi Da Samraj, Epilogue: “I Am the Unbroken Light of True Religion” in Real God Is the Indivisible Oneness of Unbroken Light (2001), pp. 231-232.

[37] Martin Heidegger, quoted in Coming Home (1978, 1989) by Lex Hixon, p. 4.

[38] See: Ananda Coomaraswamy, Hinduism and Buddhism (1943).

[39] Ken Wilber, The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977), p. 183.

[40] Ken Wilber, Foreword to Coming Home (1978, 1989) by Lex Hixon, p. viii.

[41] Lex Hixon, Coming Home (1978, 1989, 2004), p. 2; Ken Wilber wrote the foreword to the 1989 edition

[42] Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters (2001), p. 137 [bold added].

[43] Peter Russell quoted in Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters (2001), p. 266 [bold added].

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