Sometimes the most obvious thing is full of mystery. What could be more obvious than having a conscious experience? And yet just being conscious is a major scientific mystery. Scientists and philosophers are uniformly baffled. Moreover, consciousness is the root of all human experience—without it, practically speaking, we cease to exist. Consciousness is totally obvious but totally unexplained.
Here’s another example of an obvious mystery. This is a phenomenon that science has a long history of trying to understand—light, which, incidentally, leads to the weirdness of quantum mechanics.
The physical mystery of light nicely complements the mental mystery of consciousness. Just as light makes things visible, consciousness makes things experienced—seen, felt, heard, touched, smelled, dreamed, etc.. By the way, the energy associated with light that makes life possible is part of this mystery matrix. Science, for all its mighty achievements, needs to acknowledge a bevy of fascinating mysteries. Look more deeply into, not away from them.
Poets, mythologists, and scientists have been trying to explain light since ancient times. For insight into the light side of the mystery matrix, read Arthur Zajonc’s Catching the Light: the Entwined History of Light and Mind. From Newton to Einstein and other great names in science, we witness a phenomenon that pushes us to the edge of quantum physics and beyond. The very physics of light, as Zajonc explains, implies the existence of mind.
Light seems the most mindlike of physical realities. Just as our conscious minds can engage with a limitless range of possible thoughts, so does physical light illuminate an endless variety of possible visual objects. Experiences of light best described as transcendent have been collected and analyzed in Annekatrin Puhle’s comprehensive review of the varieties of transformative light experience, Light Changes (2013). These experiences occur in near-death situations, mystical and visionary episodes, alien (UAP) encounters and often just spontaneously, as when Jacob Boehme was thrown into a mystical trance by sunlight reflected in a metal utensil. Transcendent light encounters are perennial phenomena that appear in various cultural contexts. They usually signal a breakthrough to another dimension of being.
Consciousness, physical light, and, we must add, life—all are unexplained by mainstream physicalist science. Facts of everyday experience we take for granted are amazingly interesting and strange. Of course, it’s easy to lapse into mechanically interacting with the world around us, with just enough alertness and sensitivity to get by. The mystery and wonder of life, light, and our consciousness easily escape notice. A grey film of ordinariness settles on our everyday minds.
Something unusual has to happen before the strange events transpire. It could be anything that shakes up the grey film. A moment of inspiration, a creative coincidence, falling in love, ingesting a psychoactive substance, and so forth. Or the spur could be negative, like sudden loss, illness of mind or body, near death, literally and symbolically.
The yogis and saints get proactive and rearrange their lives in ways designed to trigger encounters with the transcendent. We can all learn new ways to break through to the other side.