Let me share something with you: I am an inclusionist: Whenever someone agrees with me and then says “but”, I always wish the conjunction was “and”. I wrote a piece about diplomacy-- employing the hope that all nations could, at some point, sit around a table, and when one voiced an opinion, the other would say, “Yes, I see your point, AND let me add…”
Rachel Reman told a story about her grandfather: he told her that in the beginning, through some accident, light became shattered through all living things, and it is our job in our lifetime to try and piece together as much of that light as we can. It is a fable, a myth, and when I shared it, a friend wrote me suggesting 'BUT that scattering of light was no accident.'
This adds another element to the original story: What caused, or who caused the scattering of light, or was it just a 'big bang'? Is there any reality in this story, or is it simply a harmless myth told to a child.
It is so difficult for me to live in two worlds: a world of the spirit and a world of science. I tend to like my faith reinforced by fact; I am more comfortable if I can combine my religiosity and my reason. I would like to say that the light shattered for a reason, AND perhaps it was an intended natural accident.
Taking that as a clue, I have dabbled in quantum physics, and been fascinated with the idea of light being dual in nature: it can be seen as a ray or beam, and it can decide to change itself into particles. A miracle in science! There are other unexplained scientific miracles, and through these studies some of our scientists have become believers in an Original Force or a God. It may be that we just don't understand enough to know what is really happening, but perhaps the 'AND' is appropriate here; it is the nature of light itself to shatter, or not--as it wishes. Maybe light is God...AND, as we said, maybe we just don't understand what light really is.
We have great arguments in the US about this – both religionists and scientists lean toward being exclusionists and tend to constantly say “but” to the other side, not willing to see that there are many facets to this prism. For many years I have searched how one could bring these two worlds together, and the use of the conjunction 'AND' seems to be the only answer. I am not a genius and I have to rely on others to tell me what science is all about, but I am trying to open my heart and mind--to put Einstein’s E=MC2 together with what the mystics and my religious beliefs tell me. Here are some religious quotes about light:
In John 8:12 Jesus proclaims-seemingly out of the blue-"I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Ahura Mazda, in the Zorastrian religion, represented light, truth, and goodness, all of which that faith believes are necessary for one to show love.
The Quran calls the Prophet a lamp of Divine radiance. “So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper.” (7:157) It is this Light( Nur) of Mohammad that enables the Sufi to arrive at the Reality of God.
Qumran Gnostics, sectarians in Palestine, divided humanity into two camps: The “Sons of Light,” who were good and blessed by God–referring to the sectarians themselves, and the “Sons of Darkness,” who were evil and accursed – referring to everyone else (Jews and gentiles alike). They believed that in the End of Days these two camps would battle each other, as described in detail in the scroll now known as “The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness.” This is a somewhat scary vision in the year 2011!
In most of these visions light has been interpreted as ‘the way we see things’ and the sons of Darkness are those who don’t see the light. Instead of a ‘me vs. them’ philosophy, suppose the light being referred to is seen as energy. Energy is in all things, and although it travels from one thing to another, there is a limited amount in the universe. Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.
Simply stated, light is nature's way of transferring energy through space--light is energy. Through light we can take the sun’s energy and heat our homes with it. Energy depends on mass and mass on energy. What is energy? This is the unknowable. All we know about energy is that it is the ability of an object to do work. One kind of energy can be transferred into another type: steam from water can be transferred through a turbine into electricity. I am beginning to conceive of my body, filled with energy (light) that can choose how to use this energy. Since energy cannot be destroyed at death this energy becomes part of the total energy of the universe until it is used again.
To summarize the mental path I am personally exploring: our words are probably all saying the same thing: light (love, goodness) is part of us and of all living things. We use it and share our light (energy) with the world and, and as Rachel's grandfather said, to collect as much of this energy and light into one place as we can.
We are somewhat like amachine, created to use energy for some purpose. What purpose? This is a personal pathway. Our problem comes when we conclude that only ‘my people’ have the light, and the Other lives in Darkness. AND is such a little word, but dreadfully important.