I sit on the seawall and follow a beam of sunlight down into the green-gray water. A school of pompano dance below me. As they dip, turn and dive and slide through the water, the sunlight illuminates their shiny skin, then bounces and bends on my retina to reveal their black striped backs.
Light, like the ocean, moves in waves from dark to dawn, keeping time with the tides. Light slips through clouds, falls as sunbeams, reflects eons recalled by stars. Light plays in magnetic fields, melting and merging into blue and green and white auroras. Light speeds into timelessness, its particles touching each universe it encounters.
In his wonderful short story, “Father Returns from the Mountain,” Luis Alberto Urea writes about perceptions, as the light in a diamond and a mirror, “The truth is a diamond, or at least a broken mirror. There are many reflective surfaces, and we observe the ones we choose. We see what we can.”
We see light through our eyes, and sometimes behind them. Who knows what more might be seen through the bright diamond planes of our consciousness?
We only think we sit or stand still, and yet all the while we are dancing, bending, stretching in and out of light particles. We walk on light waves and through them. We observe what we choose. We see what we can.
Don’t be fooled, though by light’s transparency; it has a substance and weight. Science tell us that light is more than dispersed ephemera. It has, in fact, solidity, as it consists of both waves and particles. Yet, like breath, there is nowhere light cannot enter. Everywhere light and breath move together, essential, inseparable partners circling the earth. Like breath, I’ve taken light for granted. And why not? Why question star shine, sunshine, oxygen? However, during a recent session of Kryia yogic breathing I entered light. Yes, that’s right. I did not see light. I entered it via breath. Believe me; I was as surprised as you might be!
I arrived at Wings Bookstore for a meditation with few expectations, except for perhaps a bit more insight into a bit more truth. I looked forward to being instructed by a yogi from India since I’d had a profound experience of deep joy and peace years ago after attending a large group chanting and meditation, led by another yogi visiting from India.
Wings Bookstore, on 4th Street in St. Petersburg, features new age books, music and items like yoga t-shirts, and crystals that shimmer in display cases. The six of us who had come for the after-hours meditation gathered in the space between the display cases and a coffee and tea bar. The yogi, sitting on a cushion on the floor was dressed simply in a Western style shirt and khakis. He appeared as pedestrian as the rest of us. We meditators sat on chairs or cushions in the darkened room as the yogi spoke to us in a deep, soft Indian accent, describing this particular meditation process. Then we began. Eyes closed, and open-minded, I followed his instructions: when to breathe slowly and deeply, when to breathe rapidly.
After a series of fast and slow breaths that at first felt like mere physical sensations, came the shock. I gasped, but knew no one had heard me because this was an internal gasp, an internal reality. A vibrant deep purple appeared before me behind my closed eyes, a purple pathway that seemed as real as the floor beneath my feet. Waves of breath had carried me out of the bookstore and I had arrived at as if at the rim of the Grand Canyon—a place spacious and borderless where I was the awestruck tourist. I knew I was still sitting in a chair in Wings Bookstore, yet I was also moving along a well-lit path into an enormous canyon-like expanse. I wanted to leap with excitement, but was also acutely aware that I needed to keep still, that no arrogant, pushy tourists were allowed here. I could stay in this Grand Canyon Galaxy as long as I left the maps and cameras behind. I sensed an invisible tour guide leading this journey, and whatever that was would brook no interference by my analytical, controlling mind.
I was drawn along the path of radiant, sunlit purple that led to the infamous, over-exposed “white light.” But I tell you there it was, bright as hell! And, yes, sweetly compelling. Thank God there was no angelic chorus and no white-bearded man in robes, only a center of clear light like a broad flashlight beam. This was a location consisting entirely of light. I wanted to explore this vista and to travel further. I could barely contain my delight in being privy to such a place, such an event. What joy I felt to be delivered here so effortlessly–as if I had been granted a special permit. Yet, the dangers were clear to me: my own greed, my desires for more. I knew without any doubt that my grasping would immediately shut the doors of my perception. The message was clear that the power of breath and light had transported me here, and the controlling mind was an interloper, a trespasser.
I recall having the urge to stay in this new land, to understand this place, but I also sensed the experience slipping away, beyond my control. I still marvel at this journey into light. Now, during meditation, when I close my eyes and focus my vision, I am still able to locate a familiar brightly lit purple circle but it comes in and out of view, and I am not transported, nor do I expect that to happen.
We see what we can.
When I think about light and its power, other realms and realities, I recall a story by Dave Eggers about a dog who also entered light, who discovered something important about light. The dog’s name was Steven and after he died in the story he said this, “The one big surprise is that it turns out God is the sun. It makes sense if you think about it. Why we didn’t see it sooner I cannot say…Why would there be a god and also the sun? Of course God is the sun. Simple, good. Everyone in the life before was cranky, I think because they just wanted to know.”
We see what we can.