Photography & Yoga: 7 Light

Photography and Yoga  ~ Part 7 ~

The silence of the heart is luminous
and completely peaceful.
From this sacred place 
it flows into the rest of your life.
Swami Chidvilasananda, from: The Magic of the Heart

Whatever exists in the vast outer world
exists in the inner world too, 
for the inner and the outer are one.
Swamil Muktananda, from: Meditation

Reflections on Light 
When I make a photograph my impulse to do so is initiated by the light in what I am seeing.  Light draws me like a magnet.  I would never make a photograph based on subject matter alone; it is the light that points me toward a picture possibility; it is light the that reveals some essential quality or form in the thing or place I am photographing; it is the light that makes it possible for me to see that what I photograph is but a reflection of that which exists within me.  

Light defines, reveals, transforms and sometimes even destroys form.  Light makes space palpably present with feeling.  Light both creates and unveils the essence of things and places.  If light is not truly present . . .  there can be no picture.  A photograph can only succeed as a functioning symbol or equivalent--that is to say, a photograph with true meaning for me--when light is alive within the picture's form and content.

Since my photography is most essentially based in the theory of equivalence or correspondence, when I am responding to the way light is functioning in the world I understand that what I am seeing "out there" is a reflection of the light within my own Self.  In a symbolic photograph light merges into Light; the photograph holds inner and the outer worlds together as one unitary reality.  Such a photograph then functions as not just a symbol, but a carrier and transmitter of the energy of consciousness, or shakti, of the One Luminous Self:   

He who glows in the depths of your eyes--
that is Brahman; that is the Self of yourself.
He is the Beautiful One, he is the Luminous One.
In all the worlds, forever and ever, he shines.  
                                                                                              --Chandogya Upanishad
In the golden city of the heart dwells 
The Lord of Love, without stain.
Know him as the radiant light of lights . . . 
The Lord is the light reflected by all.
He shines, everything shines . . . 
                                                                                  --Mundaka Upanishad

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Light is at the very center of all the great spiritual traditions.  For example: the yogic saints say "light" is not a mere metaphor; it is supreme Consciousness.  Swami Shantananda writes in his book, The Splendor of Recognition, a contemporary commentary on the 20 sutras of an ancient yogic scriptural textthe Pratyabhijna-hrdayam:

"Consciousness is . . . the Great Light, Prakasa . . . not the light that can be seen with the eyes, but the light by which the eyes see.  This light is the capacity of Consciousness to illuminate and reveal, to make things appear and manifest. . .  This light is the raw material of creation.  What we perceive . . . is nothing but a manifestation of the light of Citi Shakti."  ~  "This light of Consciousness is inextricably linked to vimarsa, awareness, which can be viewed as the reflection of that light on itself--the capacity of Consciousness to know herself. . . . Perception isn't even truly possible unless we reflect on the meaning of what we perceive."   


The sages of mystic Judaism have for thousands of years been engaged with the study of Divine Light.  In the beginning, the Hasids taught, there was Ein Sof, "the Infinite" divine sparks of light, divine energy that suffused the entire universe.  Nothing existed that was not this divine light, Ein Sof. 


St. Catherine of Siena, a fourteenth century Catholic nun, found God to be like a fire which consumed her.  She called this divine light a "deep sea" : "The more I enter you the more I discover. . ."  In her work Dialogue Catherine says that God's light is like a divine mirror that catches its own reflection, revealing to us that we are the light we seek: "When  I look into this mirror, holding it in the hand of love, it shows me myself, as your creation, in you, and you in me . . ."  Pat Doworth,  This Shining Reality published in Darshan #85  


The Islamic Prophet Mohammad said: "The first thing God created was my light." ~ "I am made of God's light and all created beings are made of my light."


From the perspective of modern-day astrophysics, the universe is essentially an ocean of light; what we typically consider to be empty space is actually a sea of light energy--luminous, pulsating, and pregnant with silent creative force.


Swami Muktananda writes in his autobiography, Play of Consciousness of the light he experienced when his Guru, Bhagawan Nityananda, initiated him:  

Gurudev looked into my eyes . . . A ray of light was coming from his pupils and going right inside me.  It's touch was searing, red hot, and its brilliance dazzled my eyes . . .  It was an unbroken stream of divine radiance.  Sometimes it was the color of molten gold, sometimes saffron, sometimes deep blue, more lustrous than a shining star.  ~  I slowly made my way home . . .   I repeatedly opened and closed my eyes.  When I shut them, I saw innumerable clusters of sparkling rays and millions of tiny, twinkling sparks bursting within me.  I kept watching them.  What a beautiful sight!  Those infinitely small sparks were shimmering and coursing through my whole body at an incredible speed. . . Then I opened my eyes again.  Again there were masses of the same tiny, scintillating blue sparks coruscating around me.  I was overcome with awe and ecstasy. . .

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The Four Lights of Meditation
The following text is from Swami Muktananda's book Meditate:

The inner universe is much greater than the outer universe; it is so vast that the entire outer cosmos can be kept in just one corner of it.  Everything is contained within it, and that is why, in mediation, the Indian seers were able to discover all the secrets of the universe.

Within us are infinite miracles, infinite wonders.  As we go deeper into meditation, we come to understand the reality of all the different inner worlds . . . There are suns so effulgent that the outer sun looks dull beside them.  We should meditate systematically and with great persistence go deeper and deeper within . . .

The Seers of Vedanta explained that our spirit is encased not just in one body, but in four, and that as we meditate we pass through each of these four bodies to the Truth which lies within them.  The first is the physical body. . .  In meditation, when the meditator is in the gross state, he can see the physical body as a red light.

As meditation deepens, the meditator passes from the gross to the subtle body, which one can see as a white light.  In this state one becomes aware that one is different from the physical body.

The light of the third body is black . . . This is the causal body, the body of deep sleep.  It is the state of total darkness, of total oblivion.  In this state the small self retires into the universal Self and one is not even conscious of who or what one is.  In this state, one experiences great peace.  This is the state of the void.  

If a seeker has deep love for the Guru and has deep faith in his grace and in the Kundalini Shakti, he passes from the third plane to the fourth plane, the state of turiya, the transcendental state.  Then, he sees the tiny blue light, the light of the Self, which we call the Blue Pearl.

The blue pearl is the most intimate body of the soul, and it is fascinatingly beautiful.  As meditation deepens, one begins to see it sparkling and scintillating in the topmost spiritual center, the sahasrara.  . . .  The Blue Pearl is the size of a sesame seed, but in reality it is so vast that it contains the entire universe. . .  The light of the Blue Pearl lights up our faces and our hearts; it is because of this light that we give love to others.  If this light left the body, the body would have no radiance and attraction.  

The Blue Pearl is the abode of God, the form of the Self within us.  Once you begin to see it in yourself, you will also begin to see it in others.  As you continue to meditate, one day this light will expand, and within it you will see the entire cosmos.  As you become immersed in this light, you will know, "I am God.  I am Brahman."  It was after having this experience that the Sufi saint Mansur Mastana said, "Whatever I see around me is nothing but an expansion of my own being.  I am not this body.  I am the light which spreads everywhere."

This state is the culmination of meditation.  In this state, our limitations vanish; our sense of individuality melts away.  We attain divine vision, so that we no longer see this world as filled with duality and diversity.  Instead of seeing differences between man and woman, East and West, past and future, we understand this whole universe as an expansion of our own Self.   fBaba Muktananda, Meditate.

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The Light of the Self  excerpts from a talk by Gurumayi Chivilasananda from Transformation III
This light of the Self . . .Without this auspicious light, there is no life.  This light itself is life.  ~  In true experience of the Truth, fear vanishes.  Instead of living in the world of fears and anxieties, you live in a world of the eternal witness, the eternal light.  This world is luminous.  It is filled with joy.  Baba always said that this world is within each one of us. It is because of its existence within us that we are able to find joy in the things that we do, in the things that we say, in the things that we hear.

Neither the mind, nor speech, nor sight can penetrate to the experience of the Self.  The Self cannot be known or understood by the mind.  How can one explain it?  It is other than words, other than speech, other than all that is known.  It is above even the unknown.  The only term that can be used for the Self is "beyond the beyond."  . . . The Self is the conscious power that animates the breath and that enables the eye to see.

A sage says:  
Awakened by the mystic realization,
He sacrifices all dualistic thoughts
In the luminous flame of the Self
And becomes identical to that light.

A lot of people do see this inner flame, this inner light.  As Baba always said, the light of the Lord exists within us for us to see the Lord; this light itself enables us to perceive the light.   


The Inner Light Will Live On 
The inner light is the goal.  God is the goal.  Wisdom is the goal.  What truly lives on?  Wisdom.  ~  A beautiful landscape, if unattended, goes back to dust.  A great mansion one day will fall down . . .  The body will die . . .  Everything is temporary.  ~  One thing, however, will last.  That is wisdom.  Wisdom will live on.  ~  This wisdom is God.  This wisdom is light.   Swami Muktananda  July 16     Resonate With Stillness

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The Light of God  
In his Mukteshwari Baba Muktananda described one of the great mysteries of true vision:

He who lives in the eyes
and through them sees form,
whose seat is the eyes, 
who is the eye of all,
who is the great light--
Muktananda, that is the conscious Self.  

The poet-saints understood that the true purpose of their eyes was to see the form of God. . . .  They lived with one strong yearning: wanting darshan, the vision of God . . . Through the intense acts of remembrance and surrender, they did, in fact, see this entire universe as the light of God.  A Sufi poet-saint said:

O Lord, please let me see You,
for You are dearer to me than my own breath.
You are truly the light of my eyes.
Night and day I remember You incessantly
with the hope that You will fulfill my wish to behold You.
                                                                       Gurumayi, from her book The Yoga of Discipline


This part 7 of the Yoga & Photography project was 
announced in the "Latest Addition" section 
of my website's Welcome Page on
September 1 , 2015

Welcome Page  to The Departing Landscape website which includes the complete hyperlinked listing of my online photography projects dating back to the 1960's, my resume, contact information, and more.