Meaning: Earth consciousness of the physical plane, intermediate space consciousness of Prana, heaven consciousness of the Self, we meditate on the Divine essence of Light Supreme. May that quality of Light within us and around us awaken our spiritual intelligence. – Interpretation: Austin Sanderson
Is light essential to your being? If so, how? Can you name some sources of light? Did you know that in the yogic tradition there is light that illuminates the Self from within?
A Self-illuminated being is called Svayamprakasha (स्वयंप्रकाश) in Sanskrit: “That shines by his or its own light. Requiring no light from outside.” (Translation: Wisdom Library.)
The Gayatri Mantra is derived from the Rig Veda; the mantra is not considered to have an author but (like the sound of Om) was revealed to the Sapta Rishis. Rishi Vishvamitra (who has an asana named after him) was the first of the seven Rishis to fully understand the Gayatri Mantra.
Recitation of this mantra is traditionally started with the sound of Om and the formula bhur bhuvah svah, which is known as the Maha Vyathrti or the “great mystical utterance.” After the Vyathrti is uttered, the energetic vibrations of earth, atmosphere, and heaven prepare the way for the mantra to be received. The full verse can be interpreted to invoke the deve Savitri (the sun god) but depending on how Savitri is interpreted it can shift focus from sun worship to the yogic concept of internal light. The most interesting aspect of the mantra is that the Divine is contained in the mantra itself. In other words, the Gayatri Mantra is not just a means of devotion but is the object of devotion itself, the Divine essence of Light Supreme within.
The Sanskrit term prachodayat means “prayer,” and is a request for the Divine to help us and guide us toward Enlightenment or Svayamprakasha (Self-illumination). Yoga is not the only tradition that speaks of self-illuminating light. The African-American Christian folk hymn “This Little Light of Mine” inspires us all to let our inner light shine through. The hymn became a standard for the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960s: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Ev’rywhere I go, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, oh let it shine.” The author of this well-known inspirational song has still not been identified to this day.
A recent Yoga Journal poll indicated that upward of 15 million Americans practice some form of Hatha yoga, with only 16 percent (about 2 million people) indicating that they did so to pursue a path of spiritual enlightenment – unfortunately that’s a small percentage. Hatha yoga is not the only form of yoga within the tradition, but few know that the goal of Hatha yoga is enlightenment. In Sanskrit, ha means “sun” and tha means “moon,” and the combined word hatha means “force-ful.” Thus, Hatha yoga is the focused practice of effecting transcendent energetic union in the microcosm of the yogi. It is the spiritual marriage between the solar light and lunar light energies within the body to create a “light being.”
According to current thinking in quantum physics, all matter – including humans – consists of forms of light. When we start to understand the interconnection between everything, we see that the connection is light. In his book Vibrational Medicine, physicist Richard Gerber describes all matter as “frozen light,” light that has been slowed down and become solid. A quantum physicist would say that light in this context does not slow down – it always moves at the speed of light. Rather, the light’s photons get absorbed; its energy has been transferred. Gerber points out that atoms are primarily empty space. What fills them, he says, are packets of light that sometimes act as matter. If our bodies, at least metaphorically, are made of frozen light, they maintain the characteristics of light, which means they have frequency, or higher vibration. Yoga Sadhana in all its forms raises the vibrational frequency to reveal our true-Self, the Divine light within.
Through observation, we can see that there is exterior light. Through Self-study (Svadhyaya) we observe interior light. This is the same as exterior knowledge (book learning) and internal wisdom (Cosmic Consciousness) realized while in deep meditation.
Look around the room: can you see this light within each and every one of us? Yes! In Buddhist folklore it is said that the Buddha’s last words were, “Be your own light.” May that quality of Light within us and around us awaken our spiritual intelligence.
Austin Sanderson – Urban Sadhu