Speaking of the Kundalini, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda says, "When this force is awakened, countless suns and moons are awakened." Someone asked her if he should be visualizing light in his meditations. She replied, "It is not a matter of visualizing the white light; when the Kundalini is awakened, there is light, an inner explosion." (Kindle my Heart, Volume I) During the most intense phase of my awakening, I was dazzled with a spectacular light show every time I closed my eyes. Even with my eyes opened, brilliant flashes of white or colored light appeared in my peripheral vision. These "external" lights were particularly vivid when I was in a darkened room. I went through another phase in which I saw a beautiful, shimmering rainbow whenever I shut my eyes.

Gopi Krishna said that the first symptom of his awakening was inner light: "It was not as if I was seeing the light or that I had an inner vision of light. Rather, it seemed as if a stream of liquid light was entering my brain. It has not disappeared during all these years..." (A Kundalini Catechism)

Literally and symbolically, light is the essence of spiritual awakening. "Among the trillion mysteries of the cosmos," wrote Yogananda, "the most phenomenal is light." In his Autobiography of a Yoga, he noted that Einstein's Theory of Relativity centered around the velocity of light. Yogananda marvelled that in a universe in flux, Einstein mathematically proved "that the velocity of light is, so far as man's finite mind is concerned, the only constant... With a few strokes of his pen, Einstein banished from the universe every fixed reality except that of light."

In Energies of Transformation, Bonnie Greenwell notes Aurobindo's theory that "the appearance of fire [and] lights (either in masses or in symbolic forms)... are commonly seen by most people who follow spiritual practices, and he believed they indicated the movement or action of inner forces." Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield speaks of the visions of light experienced by advanced meditation students (in whom Kundalini has likely risen). Many, he says, "will see very powerful white lights as if looking into the headlight of an oncoming train or as if the whole sky were illumined by a brilliant sun." While different traditions and teachers ascribe various meanings to the appearance of different colored lights, Kornfield notes that most of them "agree that seeing colors is usually the effect of a deep and pure opening of consciousness."(A Path with Heart)

At times, I've seen an aura of golden light radiating from my fingertips. Others see full auras around people and other living beings. Seeing auras or trails of light around living things and so-called inanimate objects are common Kundalini experiences. Some, like Gopi Krishna, see everything magically infused with light. The world may appear to be a transparent film through which blazes a brilliant light as if from a huge shining sun. Various shapes and colors of light may be seen beaming from specific chakra sites, or from all the chakras. Some of these lights are visible to others as well. Subtle halo lights may appear around awakened individuals, and some people with risen Kundalini have been described as "glowing" by their friends.

Hiroshi Motoyama said of his heart chakra awakening: "My chest felt very hot and I saw my heart start to shine a brilliant gold... As the Kundalini rose from my heart to the top of my head, it became shining white." His mother later told him that she had also witnessed light radiating from the top of his head and his heart.

The son of the landlady of Saint Ignatius of Loyola would often notice the saint's room shining with light in the evenings. Anna Monaro of Italy was called "the luminous woman of Pirano" because of visible light emitting from her chest.

Lights are often perceived in the presence of spirit guides or during divine visitations. A woman who was awakened in the middle of the night by the presence of Christ said her whole room lit up and she was filled with ecstasy. She has also seen spirits (some witnessed by others as well) who appear as luminous forms. Beings of light are frequently reported by those undergoing psychospiritual processes, including near death experiences. Extreme transformational experiences of any kind can be accompanied by astonishing lights. Those who have witnessed deaths of loved ones sometimes report a sudden increase in illumination in the room at the moment of death. And when a spiritual master dies, there are often dramatic atmospheric lights witnessed by everyone in the area.

At stages in the process, overwhelming or unbearable light may drown everything else, disintegrating the personality. Krishnamurti felt as if he were staring straight into a blazing desert sun with his eyelids cut off. W. Brugh Joy, a physician and spiritual teacher, told of a "superbrilliant light" in which he was held captive for six hours straight. This same phenomena may have been manifest in the story of the sudden conversion of St. Paul, in which "there shined round him a light from heaven" which knocked him prostrate and revealed to him the truth of Christ (Acts 9:3-6). Such experiences reveal to us that, as Kornfield has said, "on one level the mind and body and the whole of consciousness is made of light itself."

Holger Kalweit, who has made a global study of shamanism, has noted the universality of mystical experiences of light. In his book Dreamtime & Inner Space, he devotes an entire chapter to this subject, concluding that "Figures of light and mystical phenomena of light cannot simply be written off as hallucinations or the result of an overexcitation of the nervous system. Spiritual experiences of light occur after the collapse of the ego structure, after rigorous spiritual practices, intense concentration, and meditation. They are supreme phenomena of deconditioning."

For those of us who have had these experiences, words and phrases such as "enlightenment", "illuminating" and "I saw the light" are no longer merely poetic or symbolic. Literally as well as figuratively, the light is dawning upon us. These visions aren't the climactic finale of our spiritual evolution. They are part of our amazing initiation into higher consciousness. Even if dark passages still lay ahead, the memory of the brightness cannot be destroyed. We have been brushed by the shining wings of the numinous. The blessing of knowing we are in, of and with the light lives with us always.