I referred to light and our personal happiness when I spoke last March at the Hamburg UU Church. Since then I have reflected more on these aspects after reading a book given to me by my friend Malcolm Muir called, “From Science to God” by Peter Russell. Malcolm was a retired electrical engineer scientist, graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Reared in Hamburg, NY, he became my friend after I conducted his mother’s funeral in 1979. Last July we attended our third annual Theosophical meeting in Wheaton, Ill. Malcolm was a bright and stimulating conversationalist, a “cold scientist” who through science and reasoning became awakened to the reality and experience of spirituality. Shortly after returning home, Malcolm died suddenly. I think of this talk in some ways as a tribute and appreciation for the many discussions and ideas Mac and I shared over the years.
As shared last March, if we try to figure out who we are by taking a microscope to examine our bodies, we’d discover we are whirling spirals of tiny atoms made up mostly of space with quarks, protons and photons. Due to the speed of their spiraling, these tiny atoms are held together for a period of time in things called bodies, and homes, and autos and lawns; indeed, our whole planet. But the catalyst, which makes all this possible is a substance called light.
The basis of the billions of atoms in this condensation of form is light. Light is energy and carries into our minds roughly 11 million bits of information each second of which we become aware of just 2! As Russell quotes Sir Arthur Eddington, Austrian Nobel Peace Prize winner in physics,
“Matter is not made of matter; it is mostly just empty space.”
But what causes the condensation of these atoms and subatomic particles of electromagnetic energy into forms that we can now see and touch? Thinking! What we think becomes what we are in bodies and the things we get!
Can you look at anything in this room or place that wasn’t the result of thinking: the building, chairs, paintings, flags, tables, food, and doors? Thought precedes form. Even the earth and the whole universe!
Religious people often say the earth and the planetary system was created by a thought of God; “God created heaven and earth.” But why would a Spirit, eternal God create things which are so unlike the very the definition? Things are mortal forms; God is eternal spirit. So how were these things made? We did it!
In the recent Public Television science series called “Through the worm hole,” narrated by the late Morgan Freeman, some scientists now claim that without thought, nothing really exists! They compare it to sound. To have sound we must have noise, a transmission and a receiver. Without any one of them, there is no sound, right? The same theory holds for seeing things. In order for a thing to be seen, there must a creator, a transmission and a receiver. Without one, there is no thing!
It’s hard to understand but such thinking is closer to what mystics have said for centuries. The universe and things we see are all illusions, or Maya. In the east, Maya also means the creator of illusions. We choose a few bits of information which flood our minds and “whalla,” we create in sight!
Yet the most interesting aspect of light, which totally amazes scientists and thinkers, is that it is ubiquitous. Light is everywhere, unending and completely in the present! Einstein calculated if we could travel the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, we would continue that speed forever and never reach the end! Further, he and others since have calculated, we would be everywhere always at the same time! Time would actually be gone. We would be as close to what people say defines “eternity!”
In the Bible Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Later people accused him of being blasphemous by claiming himself to be God but Jesus answered, “Does not your own scriptures say, “You are Gods? You are all children of the Most High.” (Psalm 82:6) What does this mean?
I think it means that at in our essence, we are light and religious mystics call this awareness our “Higher True Self, the Atman, The Christ” or the essence of our Eternal Divine natures. And further, if we stay awake and aware of this Inner Light being our Higher Selves, we can be freed from the bondage of time, aging, and all forms of apparent death. Bodies die and perish as do whole civilizations and planets, but Light is endless.
Throughout the ages, people have gone into dark caves, shut their eyes, sat still in meditation and experienced this Light! In southern India near the city of Tiruvannamalai, there is a mountain called Arunachala in which many caves exist. I visited there in 1986 and went into several of its caves. It was very difficult for me to go very far in away from the sun’s light; I felt claustrophobic, closed in, and insecure. But over centuries, hundreds of people have gone into those dark caves and sat for hours and received great experiences of seeing light, of being that light, a light which transformed their lives. One of the most famous was a gifted teacher named Sri Ramana Maharishi, whose ashram center remains active at the base of the mountain. Having died in 1950 at age 70, his writings and teachings about living in the awareness of ourselves as light, resonate continually in my mind.
Living in this light is staying awake to the mortal nature of all we see with our eyes, touch with our bodies, and scan in the world. It can be seen as a very unfriendly and cruel world of death. Many writings have also taught the physical world and universe as not created by an all-loving and eternal God-spirit entity. How could Spirit create that which is unlike itself? Rather, physicality was created by human minds in an attempt become independent and free. My favorite and often read book, “A Course in Miracles,” defines this world and the universe of form as an “attack on God’s love and Oneness.” Even now, our visible world is as dangerous to live in as in any moment of history. We have the means to live our short lives here in peace but because of ignorance and fear, we continue to fight, kill, and consume to save ourselves a few years longer.
If you read those 100-year-old Buffalo News articles, which the Cellino and Barnes law firm often publish in the Buffalo news, you’ll see how little has changed. There IS NO hope for this world in itself. It is doomed. It is all maya, an illusion of reality! But the other hand, we still have hope and freedom in awaking or coming to the Light. We can forgive ourselves for chasing illusions of satisfaction: marriage, money, prestige, and the best money can buy. Such tangibles all return to the dust of ashes as millions are reminded on those ironic but Holy Good Fridays.
Thus walk and meditate in the Light! Remember you in your essence are this Light, in the very ocean of its eternal nature. Let not ourselves, only small waves on top of the often-turbulent ocean, forget we are always in this sea of light and love!
Most of these teachings, I discovered, do not come out of traditional religious forms, especially from Christianity and its other two semantic traditions, Judaism and Muslim. In the eastern religions of ancient Hinduism and Buddhism, teachings of the physical world as illusion are more common. Perhaps a cause is their creation in of caves of meditation. But even they, set in centuries of forms and rituals, so often degenerate into war and destruction with humanities’ forgetfulness.
Some of today’s most popular teachers of this spirituality of Light are from non-traditional religious settings. In a recent poll, teachers such as Eckhart Tolle and the late Wayne Dyer were rated in the top three spiritual teaches of today’s world. The other one of the top three respected spiritual teachers was the Dalai Lama. Tolle and Dyer never attended traditional seminaries or followed old traditions of ecclesiastical form and rules. They existed as kind of street people, modern day “Jesus wanderers,” spurned by established religions but respected by millions of longing and hungry souls.
Reflect often then on Who it is you truly are. Reflect in silent meditation, relaxing the grasping mind by patience, nurture and forgiveness. In patience and waiting, you too may well discover a much deeper Self, one that is endless, immortal, and connected with all others in the one ocean of light and peace. And then may we get up and practice it in detachment, kindness, and compassion to all.