fine white light split into a rainbow of color



Chinese charater for light

light used as a metaphor

"In the initial stage of emanation,
the prevalent manifestation was that of the infinite Light."
- Nissan Dovid Dubov

"Tis light makes colour visible:
at night red, greene, and russet vanish from thy sight.
So to thee light by darkness is made known:
since God hath none, He, seeing all, denies
Himself eternally to mortal eyes.
From the dark jungle as a tiger bright,
form from the viewless Spirit leaps to light."

photons projected as rays

"For he whose mind is well trained in the ways that lead to light,
who surrenders the bondage of attachments and find joy in his freedom from bondage,
who free from the darkness of passions shines pure in a radiance of light,
even in this mortal life he enjoys eternal inner peace."
- Dhammapada

"What is the nature of this invisible thing called light whose presence calls everything into existence excepting itself?

Light touches all aspects of our being, revealing a part of itself in each encounter.

We have seen the character of successive ages reflected in the images they have made of light.

Light has been treated scientifically by physicists, symbolically by religious thinkers and practically by artists and technicians.

Each gives voice to a part of our experience of light.

When heard together they craft a fuller image of light than anyone discipline can offer - all speak of one thing whose nature has been the object of human attention and veneration for millennia.

Only more recently have we grown certain of the entanglement of nature and the human mind.

The transformations of cultures over time have had profound effects on the insights humanity has had into nature.

These form a sequence, not of disjointed fragments, but a whole that unfolds in time, a series of awakenings that reflects inner growth.

The philosopher Heraclitus was right: "It is in changing that things find repose."

Scientific and intuitive knowledge of light have reflected the continual metamorphosis of our inward instruments of knowing.

Through research, artistic practices and quiet contemplation, light's elusive being constantly re-creates itself in our mind's eye, offering fresh epiphanies to every generation.

The very existence of that transformation suggests the possibility of further evolution, individually and culturally, and the possibility of re-linking the moral and sensual, the physical and spiritual, in a fresh, unitary imagination.

Every manifestation of light is a potentially occasion for grasping the truth of light, be it the dappled disks of light beneath the shade of a tree or the moonbeam that furtively makes its way through a chink in the wall.

Each instance offers an occasion for enlightenment, for seeing the light.

Seeing light is a metaphor for seeing the invisible in the visible, for detecting the fragile garment that holds our Earth and all existence together.

In the mingling of nature and mind arises an understanding of the light of life." - Arthur Zajonc

light is a mystery

Light is defined as:


life; existence

easily digested

dawn; daybreak

mildly dizzy or faint

to enliven or animate

to emit light; be lighted

liable to change; fickle

of little quantity; scanty

an expression of the eyes

easily awakened or disturbed

to set on fire; ignite or kindle

to come upon one unexpectedly

the representation of light in art

wizard representing light

the brightness of the eye or eyes

lacking in ethical discrimination

the power of perception by vision

spiritual awareness; illumination

prosperity; happiness; joy; felicity

having a loose, porous consistency

to come upon by chance or accident

moving easily and quickly; nimble

public attention; general knowledge

of relatively little weight; not heavy

exerting little force or impact; gentle

having little importance; insignificant

carrying little equipment or armament

to descend to the earth after flight; land

designed to carry relatively little weight

characterized by frivolity; silly or trivial

to cause to give out light; make luminous

the sensation of perceiving light; brightness

of relatively little weight for its size or bulk

electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength

to provide, cover, or fill with light; illuminate

individual who inspires or is adored by another

the illumination derived from a source of light

prominent or distinguished individual; luminary

of less than the correct, standard, or legal weight

to get down, as from a vehicle or horse; dismount

source of fire, such as a match or cigarette lighter

demanding little exertion or effort; not burdensome

the particular quantity or quality of such illumination

way of looking at or considering a matter; an aspect

something that provides information or clarification

organic photon receptor

something, such as a window, that admits illumination

to signal, direct, or guide with or as if with illumination

the pathway or route of such illumination to an individual

intended primarily as entertainment; not serious or profound

open view; a visible state or condition; public observation; publicity

Quaker doctrine, the guiding spirit or divine presence in each individual

a source of light, especially a lamp, a lantern, or an electric lighting fixture

the time during which the light of the sun is visible; day; especially, the dawn of day

a state of awareness or understanding, especially as derived from a particular source

that which furnishes, or is a source of, light, as the sun, a star, a candle, a lighthouse, etcetera

one who is conspicuous or noteworthy; a model or example; as, the lights of the age or of antiquity

designed for ease and quickness of movement by having a relatively slim structure and little weight

mechanical device that uses illumination as a signal or warning, especially a beacon or traffic signal

requiring relatively little equipment and using relatively simple processes to produce consumer goods

firework made by filling a case with a substance which burns brilliantly with a white or colored flame

illumine or make clear to the mind; mental or spiritual illumination; enlightenment; knowledge; information

agent/force/action in nature the operation of which rendered objects visible or luminous upon the organs of sight

appearance due to the particular facts and circumstances presented to view;
point of view; as, to state things fairly and put them in the right light

light is used figuratively to denote that which resembles physical light
in any regard, as illuminating, benefiting, enlightening, or enlivening mankind

medium through which light is admitted, as a window, or window pane; a skylight;
in architecture, one of the compartments of a window made by a mullion or mullions.

Electromagnetic radiation that has a wavelength in the range from about 4,000 (violet)
to about 7,700 (red) angstroms and may be perceived by the normal unaided human eye.

The manner in which the light strikes upon a picture; that part of a picture which represents those
objects upon which the light is supposed to fall; the more illuminated part of a landscape or other scene

"Our eyes have evolved as light receptors by an adaptive process that responds to the nature of light. Their structure tells us things about the true nature of light. There is no room for a view that all our knowledge of light is nothing more than a mental creation. It is precisely because it is a creation of our minds that our knowledge of light contains elements of an underlying reality. The fact that we possess eyes bears witnesses to the reality of that something we call light." - John D. Barrow

light prism rainbow

light used as a metaphor

"This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you:
God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all." - 1 John 1:5

"A true seeker must transcend those joys and delights that are just the ray and reflection of the glory of God. He must not let himself grow content with such things, even though they are of God, come from God's grace, and are of the radiance of God's beauty, for they are not eternal; with reference to God they are eternal: with reference to man, they are not.

Think of the rays of the sun shining into houses. They are rays of the sun, and they are light, but they are attached to the sun and not the houses.

When the sun sets, the ray's light does not remain. What we have to do, then, is to become the Sun itself, so all fear of separation can forever be ended." - Rumi

Early religious speakers and writers used concepts that would be most widely understood by the audience.

This tradition is ensconced in Christianity as the fight between the forces of evil, dark forces, and good, the forces of light.

In Hinduism the principle fight is between the Creator Brahma, a light force, and the Destroyer Shiva, a dark force.

Little children are afraid of the dark. Little children are afraid of the dark because they can not see. Little children understand that the ability to see is advantageous to their well-being. Therefore their fear of the dark is justifiable.

This trait is carried into adulthood with future effects directly proportional to degree of fear and trauma experienced initially in childhood.

‘Dark' thoughts are seen by a man's soul as detrimental to living whereas ‘light' thoughts are seen as spiritually uplifting.

light as metaphor

"Light from anywhere in the universe travels through space at 186,000 miles per second. Photons enter the eye/brain/mind configuration as stream-bursts of light via the retinal process, which amplifies each photon's energy a million times or more.

Every waking moment visible light flows into your eyes, intiating a magnificent process which entails light oscillating through swirls of multitudinous neural fibers, passing through a refraction process involving millions of microscopic rods and cones located at the back of the eyeball, which produce electro-chemical currents that surge through the optic nerve and into the thalamus, then the visual cortex, mysteriously creating the marvelous process we experience as sight.

The entire edifice of how we perceive reality is intimately reliant on the retina's reception of light waves, the largest percentage of which are photons radiating from the sun.

Sunlight is essentially streams of photons, "particles" of light which have zero "mass."

Photons as radiant electromagnetic energy bind electrons to the orbits of atoms.

Atoms, of which the entire phenomenal world is made, are born from the astronomically immense upheaval of super nova explosions which occur every second across the universe of one hundred billion galaxies, with each explosion producing a luminosity one billion times that of our sun.

We consist of such furiously made "stardust" and "starlight."

We are, in essence, beings of light born from solar fury. "- Lew Paz

path to the light

Evolution of the theory of light

Newtonian theory was the first theory developed to explain the nature of light. Newton's theory was regarded as consisting of any actual transmission of material particles, or corpuscules, sent off in all directions from luminous bodies, and traversing space, in straight lines, with the known velocity of about 186,300 miles per second. Newton's math was correct.

The theory of the nature of light known as the undulatory or wave theory consisted of the propagation of vibrations or undulations in a subtile, elastic medium, or ether, assumed to pervade all space, and to be thus set in vibratory motion by the action of luminous bodies, as the atmosphere is by sonorous bodies. Conceptually this is accurate: objects in sunlight gain radiant energy when exposed to the rays of the sun.

The currently accepted theory, electro-magnetic theory of light, most accurately describes the properties of light as a form of electro-magnetic oscillations.

waves of photons

Einstein makes an assumption

"Special relativity theory (1905) has a special difficulty. It baffles almost everyone, yet nothing more than high school algebra is involved. So it's not the math.

It's that we must accept something that is impossible to believe – except on Einstein's authority.

We should reject that authority, as indeed we should reject authority in all fields of science.

It was the Michelson-Morley experiment of 1887 that launched special relativity. It involves only unaccelerated, linear motion. If curved motion, acceleration, or gravity, are involved, then we must turn to general relativity (1916), where the math gets much more difficult.

Albert Michelson, the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Physics, attempted to detect the passage of the orbiting earth through the ether, the medium in which light waves travel. It was postulated that just as sound travels in its medium, air, so light waves need a medium, too. As the earth orbits the Sun at a speed of about 48 miles per second, it should be possible, using an interferometer – an instrument that Michelson had perfected – to detect the Earth's passage through that ether. Michelson's idea was that there should be a difference in the measured speed of the to-and-fro motion of a light beam within the interferometer – the difference being caused by the forward motion of the earth during the light beam's time of transmission. The difference in light speed would cause a "fringe shift" to be seen in the interferometer, which was sensitive enough to detect such an effect.

But no such fringe shift could be detected. This "null result" threw the world of theoretical physics into turmoil.

Michelson, incidentally, never accepted relativity theory.

Einstein postulated – assumed – that the speed of light is a constant irrespective of the motion, not just of the light source, but also of the Observer.

traveling light

And that "observer" part was very hard to accept.

A sound wave travels at a constant speed in air (of a given temperature and density) whatever the motion of the sound source. Sound from an airplane travels forward at a speed that is unaffected by the speed of the plane.

But if you travel toward that approaching sound wave then you must add your speed to that of the plane's sound wave if you are to know the speed with which it approaches you. But Einstein decreed that the simple "addition of velocities" that applies to sound does not hold true for light. Light waves approach us at the same speed whether we travel toward or away from that light beam.

It's important to note that Einstein didn't observe that in any experiment. He postulated it.

He said: "Let's assume it is true."

What follows from it? Well, speed is distance divided by time. When you move toward that light beam, which (Einstein said) always approaches at a constant speed irrespective of how you (the observer) move, then space must contract, and time must dilate to exactly the extent that is needed to ensure that the light approaches at an ever-constant speed. It's a bizarre claim. What Einstein did was take the fundamentals of physics, space and time, and argue that they must be subordinated to a velocity." -Tom Bethell

exit stage left

unique library index

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