What Is Clear Light?

Clear Light

The mind is empty of mind;

For the mind’s nature is clear light.

Astasahasrika prajñaparamita sutra

In Tibetan Dream Yoga the Clear Light is

“The subtlest level of mental activity (mind), which continues with no beginning and no end, without any break, even during death and even into Buddhahood. It is individual and constitutes the mental continuum of each being. It is naturally free of conceptual cognition, the appearance-making of true existence, and grasping for true existence, since it is more subtle than the grosser levels of mental activity with which these occur. It has nothing to do with “light.” (Alexander, Berzin. Berzin Archives Glossary.)

Take a look at the above picture. It is meant to be a depiction of clear light as a pale moon. What you actually see is yellowish-white light surrounded by fields of blue. Metaphorically, clear light is the ambient light that you are looking through when you read these words. It is the medium, the matrix, which makes the perception of any frequency of light possible. It is formless, yet existing. As such, it is also a metaphor for causal, “empty,” or high transpersonal consciousness. It is most closely associated with the “way of the sages,” in contrast to the lower transpersonal “way of the yogis,” or the middle transpersonal “way of the saints.”

Another way of understanding the clear light is to think of a prism:

Prism gif

White light goes in one side and through refraction is split into a continuum of frequencies or vibratory wavelengths that we call “colors.” But white is a color too – the combination of all colors. The clarity of the colors emitted from a prism is dependent on the clarity and intensity of both the incoming white light and the clarity of the prism. The prism itself is not white light. It is clear light. Similarly, if white light is for the moment taken to be analogous to subtle, dream, or bardo consciousness, then the degree to which it is subjected to clear light determines the clarity of the resultant manifestation, or incarnation in matter.

The implications for the evolution of our consciousness are that if we desire to live in harmony with life we need to focus on those qualities of consciousness that are analogous to both pure, intense white light and clear light itself.

If prismatic white light is analogous to intense, focused alignment with spirit, then the clear light of the prism itself is analogous to self-transcendent, fully open, integrated emptiness. The goal is to maximize both of these states not only while awake, but while dreaming and in deep sleep. Beyond that, we need to balance the frequency output – the “colors” of the spectrum of our lines of development – through the development and maintenance of an ongoing Integral Life Practice.

Intense, focused white light is your waking intent aligned with the intentions of life dreaming you.

The perfect prism is your purified, clear, enlightened mind.

The perfect spectrum is your healthy, balanced, and transforming life.

2 comments on “What Is Clear Light?
  1. Tom says:

    So clear light can be acknowledged when all sensories are inactive ?. And perhaps, one’s mental state is calm at that time ?.
    Thank you for your clarification.

  2. Dear Tom, You write, “So clear light can be acknowledged when all sensories are inactive?. And perhaps, one’s mental state is calm at that time ?”
    This creates something of a paradox. Mystical and Near Death Experiences indicate that the more we drop our various filters the more likely we are to experience with clarity, lucidity. However, the act of perception implies that some degree of dualism and filtration continues to exist. If we look at any and all reports of such experiences we find that they are framed by the cultural and linguistic contexts of the perceiver. Therefore, it seems a mistake to assume that less filtering is necessarily “better” or provides a “more true” picture of reality. It is probably closer to accurate to say that every perspective has innate perceptual biases built in and that what we need is to cultivate a number of different perspectives that challenge our normal perceptual framework. If they are contradictory or “unclear,” that may be all the better. A further implication is that we have as much to learn from non-clarity as we do from clarity, perhaps more. This is of course the implication of life taking so many millennia to generate so many sophisticated filters. Here is another formulation, perhaps in more direct answer to your question. Clear light can be acknowledged when all senses are inactive, and even moreso when that clarity is maintained in consciousness when all senses are highly active. Having our mental state calm definitely is conducive to awareness of clarity, but we both have had times in our lives when we required turmoil and even suffering as an impetus to find clarity. Ideally, we find and maintain that clarity even in the midst of turmoil and suffering. That is a major motivator for my work, Integral Deep Listening. Thanks again for your thoughtful comment. J

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