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Why celebrate light? Happy Deepavali!

Updated: Feb 1

Today is #Deepavali, the day of a "series of lights," or the Festival of Lights.


Why celebrate #light?


The light you see here is from illumined pixels. Whatever frequency is not absorbed by the pixel is reflected back to your eye. In other words, you do not see what is here. You literally see what is not here–that which is reflected back from what is actually here.


The same is true for everything you see. That wall you "see" is a fraction of what is there. Conventional wisdom says what you are seeing and interpreting as "wall" is the reflected, unabsorbed light that passes through your lens, strikes your retina, activates your optic nerve, and sends a flurry of ions (bearing no light, mind you), to your brain. And guess what? At that point, you still haven't seen the "wall." The brain then conducts an interpreting process (still unclear to us what happens here), then projects the interpretation, along with light (from what source?–there's no light in the brain), as the mental experience, "wall."


Then–and only then–do you "see" what is "out there." See how crucial an understanding of light is?


Hold on tight. Now it gets really good...


Pretty much every culture honors light as revealing deep knowing and vision. Why and how? Ask yourself: What about the rest of light that is not reflected back? What happens to that original light?


The popular scientific interpretation, based in the philosophy of naive realism (yes that's what it's actually called), is the unreflected light is absorbed by the wall "out there." But here's the catch-22. There's no way to verify the existence of said wall prior to the interpretation of partially-reflected light. Such existence is simply inference, based in the unexamined philosophy of naive realism. Since we cannot say "wall" exists as we know it independent of and prior to perception, we cannot authoritatively say it is the wall that absorbs unreflected light. Something is "there," apparently absorbing light–yes. But what it is we cannot say based on the senses. (All physical senses sense only reflected stimuli, never the full stimulus.)


To know the "wall" (or whatever it is) fully requires direct, im-mediate awareness of the original, unreflected light. This original, unreflected, immediate awareness of the nature of light shifts one's identity, because it unseats the individuated locus of awareness that functions strictly through time-bound, externally-directed senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin). Along with this shifts the view of the nature of the world and the unexamined philosophies we have imbibed.


This original light, then, takes us beyond a philosophy of naive realism to one of Advaita, the non-dual state of potential, which differentiates as the multiplicity of space-time events. And this original light, which reveals a new vision of oneself and the world, is the light celebrated by the great wisdom traditions.


A delightful Deepavali (#Diwali) to you, friend.

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