I’m sure this article’s title pulled you in. You have to know the truth. Is the Great Bright Light really purple?
Indeed, you might say, in my last meditation I saw the Great Bright Light and it is surely purple.
Or perhaps, you dropped in to see why I thought the Great Bright Light was purple, since you are so sure it is white, or perhaps golden, or something else.
Or maybe, you wanted to see how this fellow managed to see the Great Bright Light, when it has eluded you despite years of practice!
Or simply, you are curious.
For whatever reason you are reading this, my gratitude goes to you, and I hope you see in this article what you need to see at this time.
Senior students and teachers of Reiki have surely heard about the concept of the Great Bright Light. It is associated with the fourth symbol and mantra DKM (Dai Komyo), commonly translated into English as “Great Bright Light”.
Most of us are sure to have had visual or other sensory or non-sensory experiences during meditations, in general, including those on DKM. Some of them might literally have been the visual sense of a bright light. We may even understand this conceptually as the “Light of our inner nature” or “Light of our true nature”.
Regardless of how great or how bright this Great Bright Light is, because we understand it commonly as “light”, we conceptualize it in the manner we may, personally. This, in turn, influences our mind in meditation, as it conjures great things sometimes, and among those things could be colors, like purple, as I appear to postulate here, in jest 🙂
However, we may simultaneously have a conceptual understanding that the state of DKM is the state of enlightenment. i.e. The state of non dual consciousness.
If DKM symbolizes non-duality, how come we use the word “light”, which is expressively dual in nature (contrasted by no light, or darkness), to represent our non-dual essence?
Perhaps here is where the use of inherently dualistic language to communicate about the non-dual, starts failing. We can turn to realized masters for help in this regard. Here is what Sri Ramana Maharshi says about this:
To know anything, illumination is necessary. Such illuminating agency can only be in the form of the light which is however lighting the physical light and darkness. So then that other Light lies beyond the apparent light and darkness. It is itself neither light nor darkness but is said to be Light because it illumines both. ~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
This seems indicate that the Great Bright Light of our true nature is in fact neither light nor darkness and is beyond both and illumines both. And in this way, the Great Bright Light is indeed non-dual.
Still, why use the metaphor of the “Light” to refer to our true nature? What about us or in us needs illumination, that may have inspired the masters to use the metaphor of “light” to represent our true nature?
The answer to this may be found in an exploration of the spiritual journey to awakening and the important role of the teacher in this process.
In India, the traditional Sanskrit name for teacher is Guru. The word Guru is a composite word made of two parts. Gu: Darkness of ignorance. Ru: One who removes. i.e. Guru means “One who removes the darkness of ignorance”.
What is the “darkness of ignorance” that we as students are caught in? According to eastern traditions, the fundamental ignorance is that we believe that we are a separate self. Each in our right and in our way believes that we are separate beings with mind, body, spirit, personality, likes, dislikes, fears, attachments, greed, possessions, relationships and such. As the separate-I that we believe we are, we live in a world of duality, with ups and downs, with pleasure and pain, with wellness and illness, happiness and sadness, stress and relief and so forth. Eastern traditions have maintained that this “darkness of ignorance” keeps us in bondage and suffering.
The Guru dispels this “darkness of ignorance” by showing us the “Light”. This is the “Great Bright Light of our true nature” that the Guru leads us to an experiential knowing of. The knowing of the truth that we are indeed the Great Bright Light is what is called as “Enlightenment”, or “Liberation”, or “Moksha”, or “Nirvana”.
If we look for the Great Bright Light in our meditations, led by the mind and the concepts it holds about it, we might see it in our meditation as purple, white, gold, green, whatever. But that is simply the mind co-opting the quest for enlightenment, and leading us down the only path it knows how to do, and just makes up sh*t as we go. We may feel blissful in our meditations, we may zone out seeing sparkles, colors and stuff, we may even experience peace for a while. But all this is simply the mind’s pale mimicry of the Great Bright Light of our true nature.
If we get attached to these shows of lights, sensations, and such in our meditation, we will be trapped in the mental cul de sac of pale imitations of the real truth.
If, on the other hand, we see these experiences in meditations, as what they really are, the mind’s feeble attempts to imitate the real nature from which it emerges, then we can follow that feeble attempt of the mind back to its source, the Great Bright Light of our true nature.
You may think I am dissing the surreal experiences you may be having in meditation. No, I am not. Purple is great. So are other colors, lights, patterns, sounds, images and experiences. What I am saying is not to think of these types of experiences, as anything more than the opportunity, to follow the experience or the light show of the mind in meditation, back to the mind which created it, and further back from the mind to the sense of the separate-I through which the mind arose, and further back to the infinite awareness or the Great Bright Light which is your true nature.
That Great Bright Light which you seek, is already here, and it is who you really are!
Sundar Kadayam is a Shinpiden graduate of the International House of Reiki.