(c) 2011 Philip T. Nicholson
This important ancestral spirit of the Aborigine tribes can reveal itself in 2 different ways: it can appear in the sky after a rain (as a "Day-Crawler") or it can appear in the Otherworld called the Dreamtime (as an "Eye-Thing"). The red, orange, and yellow colors that appear in a natural rainbow are said to be a fire burning the back of the "Day-Crawler" as punishment for violating a tribal taboo. But when the Rainbow Serpent dives back into the Dreamtime, passing through one of the "sacred waterholes," this fire gets extinguished. When the Aborigine "Men of High Degree" enter the Dreamtime, they see the Rainbow Serpent as an "Eye-Thing" which manifests as visions of green, blue, and purple light [McKnight, People, Countries, and the Rainbow Serpent, 1999].
In the hymns of the Rig Veda, the Indo-Aryan priests describe visions that look like "flame-arrows" (dhitayah). These visions of light are "many-colored" [RV 10.91.5] and "smoke-like" [1.27.11; 5.11.3; 7.2.1; 1.3.3]. Some hymns describe them as light visions that keep welling up like a stream or a fountain [1.67.7; 3.10.5]; other hymns say the "flame-arrows" have a swirling, funnel-like motion so that they "assemble like the streams of water into holes [10.25.4] [Gonda, 1963, p. 173]."
When the Hebrew Patriarch, Moses, gathered 70 elders from the tribes of Israel for a feast to celebrate the tribes' new Covenant with the God, Yahweh, Moses and the elders must have put themselves into a trance, because the Bible says they "saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone [sephir], like the very heaven for clearness [Exodus 24:9]." The word, "sephir," can be translated as "sapphire," referring to the clear, dark-blue mineral often used in jewelry, but an alternative translation, based on what is known about the trade routes of that time, is that sephir as used here must refer to another dark blue mineral, "lapis lazuli," widely available in the Middle East at that time. In either case, it is clear that Moses knew how to induce a meditative state in which visions of clear, blue, stone-shaped lights began to appear.
When yogis enter a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping (turiya), they see visions of lights that are "the preliminary forms which produce the manifestation of Brahman in Yoga." Some of these lights look like "fog" and "smoke" [Svetasvatara Upanishad, 2: 11]. Another of the Hindu sacred texts elaborates: "the supreme bright power. . . . has its place in the heart that casts forth light. . . . that is like the action of smoke; . . . the smoke rises to the sky in one column and follows afterwards one branch after another," and, as a result, the meditator merges into the light "like throwing salt into water, like heat in melted butter [Maitri Upanishad [7: 11, Radhakrishnan, 1992]."
The Chandogya Upanishad tells meditators to focus attention on the dark, pupil-like spaces at the center of those smoky lights that float in the mind's eye: in those dark centers one finds the atman, that portion of light split off from the cosmic Self that resides within every human: "Now, here in this city of Brahman is an abode, a small lotus flower; within it is a small space. What is within, that should be sought, for that, assuredly, is what one should desire to understand [8: 1, 1, Radhakrishnan, 1992]."
While Gotama the Buddha meditated all night beneath a Banyan tree, he saw "limited light-manifestations" until suddenly, just before dawn, the "Divine Eye opened" (caksus uppada), flooding his mind with a "boundless light-manifestation." Gotama does not describe the "limited-lights," but religious artwork created by his followers in the temples of the Silk Road and China reveal what was passed down to them: painted statues of the Buddha usually depict dark blue hair, and wall paintings show the "Enlightened Ones" floating in celestial mists of green and wearing robes with prominent swatches of the same green and dark blue colors one sees early in a meditation-induced vision sequence.
In "The Far-Off Journey" (Yuanyou), a poem in the ancient Songs of Chu (Chu-ci), an anonymous author describes a shaman-like flight through visions of light: "I look within . . . to find the place where life's energy rises," and enter an "empty and tranquil" darkness where one sees a "flow of energy, rising ever upward . . . All dazzling essence, flashing back and forth." He flies through "a Great Brightness," sees flashes of green ("Yang in its gentle flashes, not quite bright / We ford the waters of the Pool of Heaven"), "Plunging and soaring, we go up and down, / Wandering on the floating waves of unsteady mist." He then moves on to "wander on the floating waves of steady mist" and "traverse fresh blue clouds, . . . floating freely [Kohn, 1993, pp. 251-257]."
Rabbi Akiva ben Yosef was an early practitioner of the mystical practices known as Heikalot ("Palace") mysticism or, alternatively, as Merkabah ("Chariot") mysticism. Rabbi Akiva is famous for having "entered the Orchard [Pardes]," i.e., a heavenly paradise, in the company of 3 other mystics. While all of them were privileged to see a glimpse of God's Glory [Hagigah 14b], the vision was experienced as so overwhelming that only Akiva survived intact. When he was asked what God's Glory looked like, he said he saw "stones of pure marble" that looked a lot like "water" but that were definitely not water. This description is consistent with visions of blue light that shimmer and change shape when light from the sun reflects off the surface of a pond.
K'awil, the Mayan god of life-force and transitional states, would send the spirits of dead kings and other notables up to the Milky Way to be immortalized as stars, and he could also send their spirits back down to earth if he received the appropriate supplications from his people, the Mayas. The conduit that K'awil used to transport spirits was the gullet (digestive track) of the "Vision Serpent" known as K'ukumatz, who was K'awil's spirit companion (uay). The "Vision Serpents," unlike real serpents, are depicted as having fans of feathers. The feathers had specific colors: the iridescent green and blue colors of the quetzal bird that lives in the rainforests of Central America. The Mayan kings harvested quetzal feathers for their royal cloaks, and for that reason they made it a capital crime to kill a quetzal. When the Aztecs from Mexico conquered most of Central America, they adopted the Mayan myth of the "Plumed Serpent" which they named Quetzalcoatl. Putting all these observations together, it is reasonable to infer that Mayan and Aztec priests sometimes practiced a form of meditation with the aim of conjuring the spirits of the dead, and that, in this altered state of consciousness, they saw otherworldly lights with quetzal-green-and-blue colors.
Jurakán, Mayan god of thunderstorms and lightning, manifests in 3 guises: as lightning-bolts, as flashes of sheet lightning, and as Räxa-lightning. Räxa can mean "green" or "blue" or "precious" lightning, but the best interpretation is that this word actually integrates all 3 meanings. Here's why: statues of a god or of a vision serpent or of a Mayan king in the process of being transformed into a god are all emblazoned with a symbol that is associated with Jurakán. This symbol is a flint axehead—the Mayans thought that lightning strikes generated flint—and it is implanted in the forehead of the subject. This axehead emits smoke, implying that there must be a fire burning inside the head, or, rather, given that the burning axe is the symbol of Jurakán, the implication is that there must be lightning flashes appearing in the mind's eye. These lightning flashes would be considered "precious" because they represented emanations of the god, and the colors of these inner lights, by contrast with the whitish colors of natural lightning that appears during a rainstorm, are Räxa, which is to say, green and blue in color—hence the translation, "precious-blue-green-lightning."
Zhang Lu, a Daoist teacher of the Celestial Master school, describes the "breakthrough of the pneumas [chi, or 'energies']" in a treatise entitled Commands and Admonitions for the Families of the Great Dao. Lu explains that these energies manifest as emanations of light of which there are 3 types. One pneuma, called "mystic," has an "azure" color. When the energies that circulate within a person's body become "settled," Lu writes, "the corporeal spirits are luminous. . . When the corporeal spirits are luminous, one approaches the Dao [Bokenkamp, 1997, p. 151, 167]."
In The True Lord of the Supreme One Who Dwells in the Cinnabar Palace, an anonymous Daoist author advises meditators to "concentrate on the pole star. A purple breath descends from it which enters into my hsüan-tan [Cinnabar] palace. . . . / I then concentrate on the sun which enters into my hsüan-tan palace. It fills the palace and penetrates to the center of the purple breath. Then I see it as a fiery pearl within the darkness [Maspero in Robinet, 1993, p. 130]." The pearl metaphor is also used in another Daoist text, The Scripture of Immaculate Numen (Su-ling jing), which claims that a symbolic inner landscape of 9 cavities exists inside the head. When meditators see green and purple lights, these are the spirits that guard the gate to the first cavity. If meditators persist, they reach the fourth cavity where they see "The Palace of the Moving Pearl (liu-chu kung) [Robinet, Ibid., p. 129]."
In Three Ways to Go Beyond the Heavenly Pass (Tianguan santu), another treatise of "Highest Clarity" Daoism, the author states that when meditators master "visualization" (cunjian), "the celestials will themselves come down to you on a cloud of purple haze. You will be guarded by jade maidens of gleaming efflorescence and by jadelads of radiant sunlight. . . . [Kohn, 1993, pp. 257-264]."
In The Scripture of the Mysterious Perfected from the Hall of Light of Highest Clarity (Shangqing mingtang xuanzhen), a Daoist master chants "O, Purple Perfected of Great Empyrean, / Hidden Goddess of the Hall of Light! / . . . . / "Your head is crowned by purple radiance, / A numinous cap of lotus leaves [Kohn, Ibid., pp. 268-270]."
Master Yang Xi, author of The Upper Scripture of Purple Texts, an important text of the Shangqing "Highest Clarity" school of Daoism, advised those who wanted to join the ranks of "The Perfected Beings" to make use of the meditation technique called "visualization" (cunjian). The adept should use his imagination to picture 5 types of colored lights circulating through the organs of his body. This exercise of imagination is designed to attract the favor of the gods who will then be disposed to send down visions of their celestial light which flow spontaneously in the meditator's consciousness. These light visions, "the Cloudsouls of the Sun," include "smoky vapors" that have a purple color: ". . . within the sunlight auroras there will also be a purple pneuma [chi, i.e. "energy"], as large as the pupil of your eye, but wrapped in several layers and flashing brilliantly. . . . This is called the flying root of solar efflorescence, the jade placenta, the mother of water [Bokenkamp, 1997, p. 315]."
Evagrius Ponticus, a Christian monk who lived in the Egyptian desert for many years, subjecting himself to the most extreme austerities, was one of the early exponents of hesychia, "mental prayer." He taught that the combination of silence, solitude, and mental prayer was the most effective way to subdue the passions and thereby reveal a person's true self. In the Praktikos, Evagrius writes that "The Kingdom of God is apatheia of the soul [i.e., freedom from passions]. The proof of apatheia is had when the spirit begins to see its own light, when it remains in a state of tranquility in the presence of the images it has during sleep and when it maintains its calm as it beholds the affairs of life [Praktikos, ¶2, ¶64]." Having once attained this state of apatheia, "The contemplative soul resembles the heavens where the light of the Holy Trinity shines," and at that time "he will see that his own state at the time of prayer resembles that of a sapphire; it is as clear and bright as the very sky. The Scriptures refer to this experience as the place of God which was seen by our ancestors, the elders, at Mount Sinai [Fragment PG40:1244A, in Bamberger, 1970, note 218, p. xci]."
In Buddhaghosa's Visshuddhimagga, "Path of Purification," one of the earliest and most influential texts in Theravadin Buddhism, the author says meditators who see light visions ("illuminations") have only attained a "beginner's samadhi." If one continues to induce "illuminations," this will likely seduce them into thinking that they have already experienced the Attainment, and this mistake will divert them from the True Path that leads to Insight. To emphasize that light visions in the mind's eye are no less apparitional than other aspects of the world in which humans live, Buddhaghosa describes the transitory nature of these visions, but in doing so, he also gives good descriptions of what the light visions look like: "formations appear to him as perpetually renewed . . . . they are also short-lived like dew-drops at sunrise . . . , like a bubble on water . . . . And they appear without core, like a conjuring trick . . . , like a mirage . . . , and so on [20: 104]."
In The Book of Questions and Answers, Abdisho' Hazzaya, the Christian monk also known as "The Illuminated," wrote that the mind of a meditator wholly absorbed in prayer "does not distinguish its own self from the glory of that light which has no image, and in which its spirituality is swallowed up [Cowan, 2004, note 5, p. 219]." When meditators ascend to the fifth and highest state of prayer, they see an illuminated version of their own minds which Hazzaya describes as "the blue color of heaven" that looks like "a cloud of crystal light" and as "a sapphire sky [Cowan, pp. 139-140]."
Isaac of Nineveh gave up his position of bishop to live as a hermit so he could immerse himself in prayer. During the course of his prayer vigils, he saw visions of light that he described as "sapphire . . . the color of heaven [Cowan, p. 150-2]."
In Amaraughasana ("Immortal Flow"), Goraksanatha, a Tantric Hindu guru, describes visions of light that look like "fiery effulgences (tejas)" or like "the tapering flame of a candle" hanging "in the middle of the vault of the palate" where they "shine continuously [Silburn, 1988, p. 128]." These lights are activated when meditators use their powers of concentration to agitate a reservoir of a "subtle" spiritual energy called kundalini that rests in latent form near the base of the human trunk; as the kundalini rises, it activates "energy centers" (chakras) aligned in a hierarchical order loosely associated with the human body and causes them to emit light of a specific color. The most important of the "fiery effulgences" is the light that emanates from the bhru-chakra located between the eyebrows. Goraksanatha does not specify that this light is blue, most likely because he knows that his listeners will assume that, as Tantric tradition prescribes, the light of the bhru-chakra is blue. But Goraksanatha does point out that there are many tiny filaments of light fluctuating within the blue vision: "Above, in bhru, is the seat of command (ajna). . . . within this kala rests the cognitive energy subtler than the hundredth part of the tip of a hair [Ibid., p. 128]"
In The Epitome of the Six Yogas, Naropa summarizes meditation practices that Tantric Buddhists consider the most effective for attaining Enlightenment in a single lifetime. These practices, called "Highest Yoga Tantra" (maha-anuttara-yoga), are reserved for those lamas who have already demonstrated their expertise in other forms of meditation. In a chapter entitled "The Yoga of Psychic Heat," Naropa refers to "Five Supernormal Signs" in which "one's body is transmuted into a body of vari-coloured radiances like unto those of a rainbow." One of these visions, "the Sign of Saturn," manifests as a "blue" radiance [Evans-Wentz, 1958, pp. 198-200].
The Christian nun and abbess, Hildegard of Bingen, saw visions of a white light that appeared spontaneously, but she also saw visions of a different type of vision that appeared while she was deep in prayer. In her book, Scivias, she describes a second vision she called "The Trinity:" "Then I saw a bright light, and in this light the figure of a man the color of sapphire, which . . . designates the Son [Jesus], . . . which is all blazing with a gentle glowing fire [Scivias, Part II, Hart & Bishop, transl., 1990, pp. 124, 159]." Describing the "3 qualities of the flame," Hildegard says that "The flame consists of shining brightness, purple vigor and fiery glow [Scivias, Bowie & Davies, transl., 1992, p. 73]." This painting features concentric rings, blue in color, that fill the entire frame and enclose the figure of a man who is also all blue.
In Hildegard of Bingen's book, Scivias, images of concentric rings with dark and light blue colors appear again and again, as, for example, in the vision, "The One Sitting Upon the Throne," where she dedicates the lower half of the painting to 2 concentric "revolving circles" that are symbols of Jesus who "glows with the beauty of the dawn," and whose "radiance extends everywhere [Hart & Bishop, transl., 1990, p. 316-317]." In "The Redeemer" (also known as "The Six Days of Creation Renewed"), an image of dark blue concentric rings is emblazoned at the top of the painting which has a background color of sky-blue. Hildegard says she "saw a blazing fire, incomprehensible, inextinguishable, wholly living and wholly Life, with a flame in it the color of the sky [Hart & Bishop, op. cit., p. 149]." The symbolic image of concentric blue rings appears in many of Hildegard's other paintings. In addition to "The Trinity," mentioned above, the rings are a central feature in "The Cosmic Wheel," "On Human Nature," "The Cosmic Tree," "Cultivating the Cosmic Tree," "The Creator's Glory," "The Choirs of Angels," and in "New Heaven, New Earth."
There is another image that often appears in the paintings and comments in Hildegard of Bingen's Scivias—the vision of "eyes." In the painting, "The Golden Tent," the fetus of Jesus in Mary's womb is connected to a golden rectangle filled with tiny eyes: "Then I saw a most great and serene splendor," she writes, "flaming, as it were, with many eyes, . . . . which was manifest to me in the greatest mystery to show me the secret of the Supernal Creator; and in it appeared another splendor like the dawn, containing in itself a brightness of purple lightning [Hart & Bishop, transl., 1990, p. 1098]." In another painting, "God Enthroned Shows Himself to Hildegard," God is seated on the top of a mountain, and far below, at the bottom of the frame, the artist depicts herself as a small figure covered with many tiny eyes. "And before him at the foot of the mountain stands an image full of eyes," she writes, "For the Fear of the Lord [i.e., Hildegard's name for herself] stands in God's presence with humility and gazes on the Kingdom of God, . . . And thus you can discern no human form in her on account of those eyes [Ibid., p. 68]."
In Visio Smaragdina, the Iranian Illuminationist, Sufi Najmoddin Kubra, described seeing visions of "a supernatural green light" that ringed the mouth of a "dark well"—the visions depicted in Video 1—but he also advised his followers that they could expect to see visions of a blue light: "As for the lower soul, at its first appearance, its color is deep blue; it seems to be an upsurge, like that of water from a spring . . . . it rises in front of you as if it were the orb of a great fountain giving forth lights; . . . an orb of light, a limpid disk, similar to a perfectly polished mirror. At times this circle may seem to rise toward your face . . . . Sometimes, on the contrary, you visualize the circle at a distance, as though far removed from you in the suprasensory realm [¶56, Corbin, 1994, p. 65-67]."
Jewish Rabbi Eleazar ben Judah of Worms, "The Baal Shem Tov," one of the founders of the Hasidim Ashkenazi, advised those who wanted to see visions of God's Glory to practice his method of "Constricted Consciousness." He told seekers "to lie down as if asleep" and to concentrate on the Divine Presence by narrowing one's focus to a single thought: "When will I be worthy to receive the divine Light?" Do this, Eleazar said, and "Soon the light of your soul blazes forth, and you ascend to the upper universes." Only the "lower" emanations of the Shekhinah manifests to humans as visions of colored light. One vision of light that fascinated Eleazar was "The Circle of the Special Cherub" which "looks just like the pupil of an eye.
The Sepher Bahir ("Book of Brilliance or Illumination") was probably first published in Provence in 1176 by an anonymous author who attributed the work to a Rabbi Nehunia ben HaKana who lived in 1st century Palestine. The book describes Sefirot energies that emanate from God, the Unknowable Ein Sof. Some of the lower-ranking Sefirot can be seen by meditators: "The first realm is light, and the living light of water. The second realm is the holy beasts and the wheels of the chariot [Bahir, 126]." An alternative translation of this last line is more dramatic: it says in the second realm one sees "the flaming eyes of the Chayot, . . . and the wheel-shaped Ofanim, the "winged eyes that glitter with . . . God's presence [Epstein P, 1978]."
In Somer Mizwah, Rabbi Abraham Abulafia explains that the "bright inner light which shines is a thing without a body, and . . . it is hidden away for the righteous [Idel M, 1988, p. 106]." To see these lights, meditators must focus their attention on the 4 letters of the divine name, YHWY, until those letters are transformed into colored lights. In some of his writings, Abulafia describes seeing visions of blue lights: "This is the meaning of 'as the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on a rainy day,'" he writes in Sefer ha-Meliz, referring to the visions of the Prophet Ezekiel. When his followers asked what this vision was like, "he said that it is like a round ladder, and he counted its steps, and said that there are 360 rungs, . . . and he saw that beneath each step there was as the length of a rung, and its appearance was like that of bright blue . . . [Ibid., pp. 109-110]."
In Sefer ba Zohar (The Book of Radiance), the Spanish Kabbalist mystic, Moses de Leon, describes the lower Sefirot, which are the only ones that can be seen by meditators. The lowest Sefirot in the spiritual hierarchy, the Shekhinah ("Divine Presence"), shines as a blue and black light. For those who seek to advance their practice of mystic Kabbalah, seeing visions of the blue and black light is essential: "One who enters must enter through this gate [Zohar, 1:7b]." In another text, Colors and Enlightenment, Moses de Leon discusses purple lights: "Come and see: / There are four lights. / Three are concealed . . . / A shining light. / A glowing light; it shines like the clear brilliance of heaven. / A purple light that absorbs all lights . . . . / These were shown to the Patriarchs, / so they would know those hidden ones that glow . . . . /. . . . / The secret is: close your eye and roll your eyeball. Those colors that shine and glow will be revealed [Matt, 1983, pp. 108-109]."
When Angela of Foligno, a wealthy wife and mother, lost her husband and all of her sons, she sold all of her possessions and became a nun in a Franciscan Order of the Roman Catholic church. While on a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Francis, she saw 2 visions. Ordered by authorities to describe the visions, Angela said "I saw a fullness, a brightness with which I felt myself so filled that words fail me, nor can I find anything to compare it with. I cannot tell you that I saw something with a bodily form, but he was as he is in heaven, namely, of such an indescribable beauty that I do not know how to describe it to you except as the Beauty and the All Good [Lachance, 1993, p. 152]." She saw a different type of vision when she was alone in her cell and not sure if she was asleep or awake: "I saw two most splendid eyes, and these are so large that it seems only the edges of the host remain visible . . . ." Some of her visions seemed to have a sweeping, crescent-like motion that reminded her of a sickle: "She saw the beginning of it but not the end, only its continuation; . . . and as it approached her it moved like a sickle [Lachance, 1993, pp.146-147]."
Karma Lingpa, the Tibetan Buddhist lama credited with publishing The Tibetan Book of the Dead, wrote a treatise on meditation, The Natural Liberation of Seeing, in which he told meditators that the second vision they see will be "the lamp of empty bindus." This vision looks "like the concentric circles of ripples when you throw a stone into a pond. Inside a form like the round plates of a shield there appears a bindu about the size of a mustard seed or a pea. Inside that are the so-called 'vajra-strands of awareness,' which are like knots tied in a strand of a horse's tail, like a string of pearls, like an iron chain, like a lattice of flowers moving with the breeze, and so on [Ibid., p. 164]."
Tsong Khapa, a famous Tibetan abbot who wrote many influential treatises on Buddhist thought and practice, often left the monastery to go on spiritual retreats in remote locations. During one of his early retreats, having spent many days and nights "performing the propitiations," he saw the vision of "a perfectly round, beautiful deep-blue shape, of a size appropriate to the center of a mandala, as if exquisitely painted, of extreme clarity, whose edges were laced with a rainbow of five-colored light rays [Thurman, 1984, pp. 83-84]."
Muhammed Nurbashkh, the Sufi Master who founded the Kubrawiya Order in honor of his teacher, Najmoddin Kubra, told his followers to induce a state of consciousness halfway between waking and sleep, to focus their minds on Allah, then to wait expectantly, hoping to "witness an unveiling" in which "brilliant images" would emanate from "higher spheres." The first of these "unveilings" is an "an epiphany in green;" the second is "an epiphany in blue" [Bashir, Messianic Hopes and Mystical Visions, 2003, pp. 143-149].
A Spanish knight named Ignatius Loyola resolved to become a Christian monk while convalescing from severe wounds. Not knowing how to begin, he moved to a small village, and began working as a volunteer in a hospital. Most of his nights were spent in long prayer vigils. He began to see visions of lights that made him feel good but also made him worry that they might come from the Devil: "Many times in clear daylight he saw something in the air near him, which gave him much consolation, because it was extremely beautiful. He did not understand the type of thing it was, but . . . it had many things that shone like eyes, although they were not eyes [The Autobiography of St. Ignatius, ¶ 3: 19]."
In Dark Night of the Soul, John of the Cross explains that when the soul begins its ascent on the "secret ladder" that leads to God, it must first put on certain "garments" or "disguises." Since John was writing during the time when the Spanish Inquisition was at its height, he had to be careful what he said about seeing visions, so he took the precaution of stating that the first disguise that the soul must wear is the white of purity—he knew no one could object to that. The second disguise that the soul puts on is the "green almilla," a type of shoulder pad worn beneath armor, which clearly points to the vision of green light-rings depicted in Video 1. It is only then, "as the crown and perfection of its disguise, the soul puts on the third, the splendid robe of purple. . . . This is the purple, spoken of in the Canticle [iii.10], by which the soul ascends to the seat where God reposes: 'the seat of gold, the going up of purple.' It is vested in this robe of purple that the soul journeys, . . . when in the dark night it went out by itself, and from all created things, with anxious love inflamed, by the secret ladder of contemplation to the perfect union of the love of God, its beloved Savior [II.21.9, Zimmerman, 1924, pp. 181-182]."
The Hindu guru, Lahiri Mahasay, a disciple of Mahavatar Babaji and an influential teacher of Babaji's Kriya Yoga, advised seekers to "practice pranayam at 4 o'clock in the morning," and to notice how the sound, "OM," transforms into a "radiant light . . . spread throughout the body [p. 208]." One vision is a blue light: "I saw a blue color in the light," Lahiri writes, "In the blue, I saw a white spot; and in the white spot, I saw a man . . . [Satyewarananda, 1991, pp. 93, 211]."
In the early years of his professional life, the Aurobindo Ghose, an English-educated professor of French, became an activist in the nationalist movement agitating for Indian home rule. He had begun practicing meditation while he was teaching at Baroda College, but it was not until he was arrested for his political activities and spent time in prison that his meditations induced visions of purple light: "Calm heavens of imperishable Light, / Illumined continents of violet peace, / Oceans and rivers of the mirth of God / And griefless countries under purple suns [Savitri 28: 210]."
Gopi Krishna, an Indian civil servant who became a Hindu yogi and wrote the influential book, Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man, experienced a "spontaneous rising of kundalini," which is to say, a rising that took place without the guidance of an experienced guru. Krishna regularly got up before dawn to meditate before going to work: "During such intervals I used to feel as if I were poised in mid-air, without any feeling of a body around me. The only object of which I was aware was a lotus of brilliant color, emitting rays of light [Krishna, 1971, p. 11]." Krishna was sceptical about the descriptions of light visions he'd read in yoga meditation texts: "I never practiced yoga by Tantric methods. . . . ," he writes, "If I had done so with a firm belief in the existence of the lotuses, I might well have mistaken the luminous formations and the glowing discs of light at the various nerve junctions along the spinal cord for lotuses, and in the excited state of my imagination might even have been led to perceive the letters and the presiding deities in vivid form, suggested by the pictures already present in my mind [Ibid., p. 174-175]." But despite his misgivings about using the word, "lotuses," Krishna often reverts to this usage, because of "the singular resemblance which, in the awakened state, the lustrous nerve centers bear to a luminous revolving disc, studded with lights, or to a lotus flower in full bloom glistening in the rays of the sun. . . . [Ibid., p. 174]."
After spending many years wandering, Muktananda was initiated as a saddhu at the age of 39. He then spent 8 years living alone in a remote hut where he meditated during most of his waking hours. He describes how "a light came in meditation, like a candle flame without a wick, and stood motionless in the ajna chakra, the two-petaled lotus between the eyebrows. It was extremely brilliant and beautiful [Muktananda, The Play of Consciousness, 1978, p. 128]." As he watched this "blue akasha, an expansion of blue color," he noticed that "other forms would appear within it [p. 128]." The most important of these internal forms manifesting within the blue light was the neela bindu, the "Blue Pearl" [p. 135], a form that Muktananda refers to as "the eye of the eye." This "eye" was "as small as a sesame seed [p. 141]." The significance of this vision cannot be underestimated: "Just from seeing this Blue Pearl you can attain jivanmukti, the state of liberation. . . . When you see the Blue Pearl all the time, this means you are in the turiya state, the state of complete transcendence [p. 146]."
In Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality, Philip St. Romain, a Roman Catholic lay minister, describes the visions of light that came to him while he was meditating: "With my eyes closed in deep silence, I was treated daily to an aurora borealis of ultra-purple and shimmering gold lights. Sometimes the lights would assume round patterns: small circles would expand and eventually dissipate, only to be followed by other small circles of light [St. Romain, 1991, p. 20]."