Have you ever experienced a moment of such sublime beauty that you were rendered speechless? Was there a profound silence? Did the world seem illuminated with a special quality of light? Was this happening outside you or inside you? In that moment, how were you? Have you been the same since? These moments of grace provide a special kind of food for the soul.
The making of these images was approached with a desire to enter and sustain a sacred state of mind. They are designed to encourage us to search for similar states of mind and to carry them with us and extend them into the world.
Mystery plays an essential role in this process. It helps us to suspend the boundaries imposed by the limited amount we know in an effort to understand more. The resulting open state makes space within us for many things to both figuratively and literally come to light.
Since the dawn of human consciousness light has and still is considered both a physical and metaphysical mystery.
In contemporary science light is a paradox; strangely, it exhibits the characteristics of both waves/energy and particles/matter; theoretically, it would require an infinite amount of energy to move matter at the speed of light, the fastest thing in the universe; frequently, new seemingly contradictory information about light asks us to refine and expand our current world views.
Light is also a profound importance to the spiritual practices of mankind. The ancient Greeks linked light with knowledge, as seen in the figure of their god Apollo (musician, poet, oracle healer, law maker, leader of the nine muses), alternately referred to as god of light and god of truth, and to whom the phrase “Know thyself.” is attributed. To this day, to “shine a light on something” means to not only better reveal but also to make something better understood. In Christianity, divine light is one aspect of divine presence, specifically a mysterious ability of God, angels, or human beings to express themselves through spiritual rather than physical means. Similarly, the Judaic Kabballah’s ten sephirot are seen as emanations that filter infinite divine light to reveal different aspects of the creator. Buddhist traditions emphasize and offer a seemingly infinite variety of practices for achieving the ultimate goal of a state of enlightenment or awakening. Most religious traditions use light in ceremonial practices to purify and sanctify, to prompt higher states of consciousness in participants and witnesses, and sometimes to summon or point to the presence of the divine.
Many Tantric mediations encourage practitioners to visualize filling themselves, others, and the world around them with light. Even if this practice creates no measurable physical transformation in the external world (Or perhaps we just haven’t learned how to measure this.), the transformation of mind this practice brings has many consequences – in our attitudes, in our interactions with others, and even in the chemical and physical composition of our bodies. When we experience the world differently, we become different.
The images contained in Illumination are also visualizations; they seek to reveal light both without and within and to encourage a special way of seeing, thinking, and feeling about the world and our selves as parts of each other.
Perhaps with practice, we can each learn to “Let the beauty we love be what we do.” (Rumi) and to “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” (Ghandi)