The Dance of Light
I am conscious of something within me that plays before my soul and is as light dancing in front of it; were this brought to steadiness and perfection in me, it would surely be eternal life!
These words were written by Saint Augustine, one of the most significant early Christian thinkers, who was born in the year 354 in what is today Algeria.
Maharaj Charan Singh describes the seeming instability of the inner light of which St Augustine wrote:
When we see the inner light in the beginning, we see just flashes, it comes and it goes; but actually it is the attention which falls down and the attention which comes back.
When the attention is there, it sees the light, and when it drops down it sees darkness, and so we think flashes of light are coming. And then we see shimmering types of light; again we think the light is not steady, that the light is shaking, but it is the mind which is unsteady, and which is shaky, so we get a shimmering effect of that light. What we see all depends on the stage of concentration of the mind.
Die to Live
Mystic and religious texts frequently use words such as light, fire, brightness, or radiance to describe the soul. Because the soul is a spark of the divine light of God, these and other similar metaphors are also often used in relation to God. So we see that in Sar Bachan Poetry Soami Ji describes God by saying:
I am at a loss to describe the beauty of Sat Purush himself. Each pore of his body emits the light of ten million suns and moons put together.
The word ‘light’ is commonly used by Christians as a metaphor for Christ, referred to in many biblical passages. For example, Luke describes him by saying:
For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto another part under heaven; so shall also will the Son of man be in his day.
So the Son of man, the Master, will light up the world – he will bring spiritual understanding. However, Luke puts in the overriding aspect of time, for he adds ‘in his day’. This clearly means for the people of his time, when he is in the physical body.
And in Saint John, Jesus himself says the same thing: “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (St John 9:5).
Here Christ states that he is the light of the world only as long as he is in the world. Maharaj Ji expands on this by explaining the deeper mystic meaning of this statement. Christ did not say that there would be no light in the world after he left it. He indicated that we should go to a living Master, for it is only through a living Master – who is the light of the world during his lifetime – that we can get his instructions and guidance to take us back to the Father.
The sun and its solar energy are the source of our warmth and light, which is why many early civilizations worshipped the sun, the giver of energy and life, while darkness has traditionally been associated with the devil and satanic and evil activities.
In darkness we can’t see and know what is happening around us and we often feel vulnerable and without defence. As darkness envelops our world, it causes a feeling of insecurity as familiar objects seem to disappear into the shadows of the night, and we may easily become afraid. But this fear or a feeling of foreboding is a mental conditioning we impose on ourselves.
Darkness has its place. The Creator who created light also created the dark. If he is everywhere and in everything, then he cannot be separated from darkness. He is in the darkness as much as he is in the light – so what is there to be afraid of?
For example, after sitting in meditation for many years, we come to know the darkness within and embrace it. We learn to rest quietly in it as we repeat our simran. It is only our impatience for inner light that actually distracts from that peaceful darkness within. We should embrace that inner darkness with patience rather than be impatient for the light to dispel its calmness. Darkness is restful and it is infinite. At this stage of our practice, the inner light may come and go, but darkness remains; it is always there.
The Great Master writes in Spiritual Gems:
If you cannot see light within, then you should fix your attention on the darkness and keep peeping into it. The darkness will change into light.
The darkness will change into light as our concentration grows. Our increasing focus brings with it a hint of the Shabd, the source of both inner light and sound. Experience of the Shabd is our heritage – but we have to work to receive it. And that work is our meditation.
When we enter a dark room we see nothing. However, if we open the curtains, drawing them back from the window, the room is flooded with light. The window is synonymous with the third eye, and it’s here that we start to contact the Shabd: the source of both light and sound which is constant within. To find that window is the purpose of our concentration. Once we find the window within and draw back the veil, we will experience the light, for as the Great Master tells us in Spiritual Gems:
If your attention is steadfast you will see within yourself the effulgence of the spiritual world. You will see the bluish constellations – the stars, suns and moon – which are at the threshold of the inner world. Fix your attention in the bright star and continue repetition. When the star is approached, it will burst, and you will cross through it – the starry sky has been crossed.
Then you will see the great jyoti, the thousand-petalled lotus, and the Master’s Radiant Form. You must see these things – have no doubt. It is certain.
In the following quote, Christ refers to the eye centre – the single eye, where the inner light is to be found. He says: “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22).
In Die to Live Maharaj Ji tells us that concentration will bring us to the level required to see the light within. Our concentration remains inadequate because of our inability to calm the disturbances of our mind. We have the ability to concentrate on worldly things, so the reason we can’t still the mind is either because we are too lazy to practise concentration or we allow our attention to be scattered during the course of our day. Either outcome is the result of not doing simran throughout the day. Stilling the mind is not something we do only when we sit down to meditate. We need to be conscious of our mental condition and focus during the day as well.
‘Wysiwyg’ is a computer term – it stands for ‘what you see is what you get’. What we feed the mind during the day is what we get at the time of meditation – it is exactly what is going to be reflected back to us. Sant Mat is not dictatorial. We are given the directions to follow and it is up to us how we choose to follow this path. Nobody is going to tell us what we can and can’t do. By our own feeble attempts at meditation, it will eventually get through to us that if we fill the mind with worldly pleasures – excite and delight it during the day – it will take that much more effort to try and settle it down at the time of meditation.
If we want to ascend from the darkness into the light – if we want to experience this light – then it is important for us to do our simran and our daily meditation. To become aware of this light within is his grace, even the tiny flashes we may sometimes get. The Masters repeatedly ask us to do our meditation so that we can enjoy the bliss of this inner experience. They want us to experience this divine light – they want to give it to us. Maharaj Ji even said that our meditation is simply an excuse for the Master to shower this grace on us.
To travel this path of light is the greatest gift we can ever have. It is the means to make our final ascent out of darkness and the pain and suffering of this world, into the higher worlds of bliss and peace in the light and sound of the Shabd.