Sometimes our language knows more than we do, carrying an older wisdom into an age where many believe we have no knowledge of anything ‘spiritual’ or invisible. We quite naturally say someone is “bright” or “enlightened” and mean they demonstrate intelligence and wisdom. If someone is loving and positive they are “warm” and have a “sunny” disposition. If a certain historical time is filled with hatred, ignorance or violence it is described as a time of “darkness”. We still use these words because we actually do still dimly experience inner, invisible realities, just not with outer senses but with the inner eyes of our souls. These expressions reveal to us that the physical world of light and the invisible, inner world of the human soul are both expressions of the exact same reality. Realizing this can change everything. It is a realization that leads us to recognize that it was not some poetic or metaphorical statement, but an exact description of reality when Matthew had Jesus say:
“you are the light of the world.” – Matthew 5:14
Let’s take this further.
Through eyes opened to the spirit, the Christian mystics and initiates beheld in the light of the world the wisdom, love and goodness of the Angelic world. They would describe the origin of light in the following way: From the hearts of the high creator spirits of God, the Elohim, poured forth into physical reality the invisible miracle of light. Their inner world has become our outer cosmos. This was the great act of creation: inside became outside.
When this thought has sufficiently lived within us, if we can start to feel its magnitude, a next question rises that can nearly overwhelm the soul: If the inner world of the angels has become the outer physical world around us, what is to become of our inner world? What is to become of our thoughts, our feelings, our inner impulses, desires and will?
As much as the reality of our thoughts and inner life is denied in our time, as much as the worldview that dominates our age would have us believe that only the outer world is real and the inner world is purely subjective and has no bearing on reality, such a meditation on the relationship of light and the soul leads us to the thought that the inner, moral world of the human being will one day become an outer world. Our inmost thoughts, feelings and intentions will one day create a world of light, warmth and life – or a world of darkness, frigid cold and death.
Those who are sensitive to this truth can perceive this already happening in the culture of our own time; its ramifications, however, are revealed in the collection of writings we know as the “New Testament” as so great in scope as to be planetary. In the Book of Revelation we read of the birth of a “new heaven and a new earth” where
“There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” (Revelations 22:5)
Here the writer of the Apocalypse describes the vision granted him of the future earth where the “light” of that world will not stem from an outer sun but from the emanating moral spiritual light that will permeate this new world known as “The New Jerusalem”. What better name could there be for that future world than that city that is daily so embattled and now suffers under renewed violence, hatred, misunderstanding and destruction?
Rudolf Steiner spoke about this truth in the following way: “We see about us today a world of light; millions of years ago it was a moral world. We bear within us a moral world, which, millions of years hence, will be a world of light…And a great feeling of responsibility toward the world-to-be wells up in us, because our moral impulses will later become shining worlds.” (Truth Wrought Words, p. 185). This language of light and morality permeates the New Testament. This is because the writer’s inner eyes were opened. With eyes of soul we can perceive the light of the spirit shining in the deeds, souls and words of other human beings – and we can also experience the darkness:
2Co 4:6 – For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Eph 5:8 – For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
1Jo 1:5 – This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1Jo 2:8 – Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 2:9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.
These last words bring us back to the story that has been occupying our news-cycle once again: the conflict in the West Bank. Above all else – beyond any peace treaties, or political solutions – we must begin to awaken to and contemplate the fact that a spiritual/moral world of light emanates from us. This world will continue to be filled with darkness so long as we remain blind to our own power, to the way the Light of the World works through us. Contemplating these thoughts helps us realize that spirituality isn’t a luxury, it is a world necessity. In the Gospel of Matthew this comes to a certain culmination:
Matt 5:43 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ 44 I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, 45 for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad…” – “The Message” translation
“Love your enemies.” This is walking the light-path. What happens when we try to understand our enemy? What happens when we try to feel their pain through our power of compassion? What happens when we allow ourselves to feel their deep need? Such violence and conflict simply becomes an impossibility when this vision is awakened, when we walk this path. Jacques Lusseyran describes this so exactly and powerfully in his book And There Was Light. Blinded by an accident at school at the age of seven, he awoke to inner experiences of light that permeated his inner and outer world. In a striking way he discovered what happened when he would allow selfish, immoral or hate-filled thoughts to enter him:
I could no longer afford to be jealous or unfriendly, because, as soon as I was, a bandage came down over my eyes, and I was bound hand and foot and cast aside. All at once a black hole opened, and I was helpless inside it. But when I was happy and serene, approached people with confidence and thought well of them, I was rewarded with light. So is it surprising that I loved friendship and harmony when I was very young?.
Armed with such a tool, why should I need a moral code? For me this tool took the place of red and green lights. I always knew where the road was open and where it was closed. I had only to look at the bright signal which taught me how to live.
A future world is growing within us. New eyes long to open. New capacities for a light-permeated life are unfolding, even in the midst of the darkness. For that, ultimately, is light’s womb. It is born in the darkness. It is born within when we close our physical eyes and open our inner ones in meditation and prayer. It is born in the world when we meet the darkness of hatred, misunderstanding and violence with the light-filled powers of the soul. Meditating on the fact that we are, very concretely, called to be the light of the world and raising our souls to the thought that what lives within us will one day be outside us, can be of tremendous help in stimulating our sense of responsibility and power, spurring us on to become “children of the light”.
Whatever wisdom, compassion and loving sacrifice we cultivate within us will one day become the shining world around us.