Travel in the Spiritual Worlds
Sacred Light During Spiritual Travel
The experience of sacred light can be found in all the world's great religious traditions. Perhaps the most famous example in the West of this phenomenon was the biblical account of Saint Paul's vision of light that occurred while he was on the road to Damascus (Acts 9).
Mircea Eliade, the historian of religions, writes in his thematic study of comparative religion The Two and the One:
Now all experiences of the supernatural light present this common denominator: anyone receiving such an experience undergoes a change of being: he acquires another mode of being which gives him access to the world of the spirit ... even in a Far-Westerner of the nineteenth century, a meeting with the light indicates a spiritual rebirth.Experience of the sacred light when perceived in sufficient depth radically alters the world view of the experiencer. The following paragraph from Richard C. Bucke's 1901 classic book Cosmic Consciousness attempts to explain this altered view of the universe:Like a flash there is presented to his consciousness a clear conception (a vision) in outline of the meaning and drift of the universe. He does not come to believe merely; but he sees and knows that the cosmos, which to the Self Conscious mind seems made up of dead matter, is in fact far otherwise - is in very truth a living presence. He sees that instead of men being, as it were, patches of life scattered through an infinite sea of nonliving substance, they are in reality specks of relative death in an infinite ocean of life. He sees that the life which is within man is eternal; that the soul of man is as immortal as God is; that the universe is so built and ordered that without any preadventure all things work together for the good of each and all; that the foundation principle for the world is what we call love, and that the happiness of every individual is in the long run absolutely certain. The person who passes through this experience will learn in a few minutes, or even moments, of its continuance more than in months and years of study, and he will learn much that no study ever taught or can teach. Especially does he obtain such a conception of the whole, or least of an immense whole, as dwarfs all conception, imagination, or speculation, springing from or belonging to ordinary Self Consciousness, such a conception as makes the old attempts to mentally grasp the universe and its meaning petty and even ridiculous.
The following set of experiences show some ways in which the sacred light is encountered during spiritual travel. Each illustrates how people encounter ecstatic states where they lose contact with the physical senses and enter entirely into another space which is one of the defining characteristics of spiritual travel.
- Encountering the Light during a Powerful Near-death Experience
- Renee Paraslow recounts her contact with the sacred light during her Near-Death Experience which occurred in 1968 (prior to the publication of any works on the subject of near-death states).
- Experiencing "Seas Upon Seas of Light" in an Ascent to Heaven
- The Sufi mystic Bayazid-i Bistami who lived in the ninth century and was a proponent of "intoxicated" Sufism describes seas upon seas of spiritual light as he approaches the throne of God in a Mi'raj (the Muslim term for a saint's or prophet's ascent to heaven)
- Maria Estevez Experiences the Transcendent Light when she Participates in a Study to Determine Psilocybin's Effect on Brain Chemistry
- This Johns-Hopkins study which was later published as an article in Scientific American leads to a mystical, life-changing encounter with the sacred light where Maria is overwhelmed by "a glorious golden light, suffused with every color, prisms and rainbows everywhere like a shining hologram."
- Paul Twitchell, the 20th century leader of Eckankar, describes a Lengthy Experience of Spiritual Light During Spiritual Travel
- This spiritual travel excerpt describes the culmination of a series of spiritual experiences where the writer Paul Twitchell has been shown a series of worlds leading up to his current state of light devoid of matter or form.
- Robert Monroe, the author of a number of books on Out-of-Body Experience, Asks his Guide to Show Him an Area of Extreme Love During Spiritual Travel
- Monroe, an American writer who traveled to hundreds of OBE states, had a set of guides he referred to with the generic term INSPECs (intelligent species). He believed it would be a great help if he could get a feel for a place or state where there was a massive amount of love. His guides directed him to the following experience in response to his request. Monroe is especially adept at describing the "unknowable" nature of deeper religious experience.
- Thomas Merton's Experience of the Sacred Light
- Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk, and one of the Catholic churches' best known writers on the contemplative and monastic life in the 20th century. Here, Merton describes an experience of celestial light which he had in a Catholic church in Havana when he was 25 years old, and comments on its availability to all people. There is some ambiguity about how transcendent Merton's experience is since it is unclear if he lost touch with his physical senses.
- A Near-death Experience Where a Man Encounters the Sacred Light in the Form of a Being of Light
- Some beings have such powerful spiritual auras that their presence creates an environment that is suffused with spiritual light
- Ramakrishna's Experience of the Goddess Kali as an "Ocean of Light" during Spiritual Travel
- At one point, the 19th century Indian saint Ramakrishna became frustrated, feeling he could not live any longer without seeing the Goddess Kali. He demanded that the goddess appear to him. He threatened to take his own life with a ritual dagger (from the hand of the Kali statue). At this point, he described how the goddess appeared to him.
- The 20th Century Indian Writer Gopi Krishna's First Experience of the Kundalini Energy as Sacred Light
- Over a period of years, Gopi Krishna developed the ability to sit for a period of hours in concentration without any discomfort. The following account, which took place in 1937, describes his first Kundalini experience which occurred while he was visualizing "an imaginary lotus in full bloom, radiating light" at the crown of his head.
- Static Awareness in a Dynamic Field
- Sacred light has many textures and variations, and is many times characterized as perceiving the whole cosmos in a single perceptual event. Here, an analogy is presented showing a way that awareness of sacred light gives insight into the structures of the universe.
- Paramahamsa Yogananda's Initiation Experience of Spiritual Light
- Yogananda, a 20th century Indian teacher, describes an experience of spiritual light which occurred when he received initiation from his guru.
- A Spontaneous Experience of Sacred Light
- Some experiences of sacred light come out of nowhere like bolts of lighting.
Introduction | The Geography of Spiritual Travel | The "Travel" Analogy | Leaving the Body in Spiritual Travel | Spiritual Travel Versus Dreams | Sacred Light | Sacred Sound | Psychic States | Spiritual Travel in Western Religious Scripture | The Self in Spiritual Travel | Returning to the Physical Body | Near-Death Experience | Navigation During Spiritual Travel | Spiritual Matter | Method and Techniques To Induce Spiritual Travel | Shamanism and Spiritual Travel | After-Death Experience | Spiritual Travel as a Rehearsal for Physical Death | Beyond Spiritual Travel | Conclusion
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