Why is light an important symbol in religion?

Why is light an important symbol in religion? Jul, 30 2023

The Universality of Light as a Symbol in Religions

Okay, so let's dive straight into this: Light, in more ways than one, has been a primal element of focus in virtually every religion around the globe. The first humans looked up at the Sun, a glowing orb that infused earth with warmth and life, and it's no wonder they earmarked it as an entity of worship. It gets dark, it gets cold, we light a fire, and suddenly things feel a lot more secure - no ghost stories for us, thank you very much. It's rather simple, isn't it? Much of it's instinctual - an intrinsic association of light with life, security, warmth, and thus, the divine.

But it's not just sunlight and fire. The moon, the stars, candles lit in remembrance, the promise of dawn after every dark night - every form of light has been ensconced somewhere in the semantics of religion and spiritual beliefs worldwide. I mean, how many times have you heard phrases like "the light of the world" or "let there be light"? If I had a dollar for every time, my dear Lydia wouldn't need to work another day in her life!

Illuminate Your Knowledge: Light in Various Religions

Enough of the generalities, though. Let's dig a bit deeper. In Christianity, light is often associated with Jesus Christ, the "light of the world" according to the Gospel of John. So, when you see that car bumper sticker claiming "Jesus is my copilot," just think of it as a divine pair of headlights leading the way.

In Buddhism, light symbolizes wisdom and enlightenment, crucial bits if you're hunting down the path to Nirvana. It represents the illumination of ignorance, a beacon towards self-realization where we see our true nature and thus achieve spiritual enlightenment. The lamp in Buddhism serves more than just its utilitarian purpose of dispelling darkness; it vanquishes darkness of the mind too.

Over in Islam, light is perceived as the Divine Light, illuminating truth from falsehood. It's held in such an esteemed place that it even earns itself an entire chapter in the Quran, called surah an-Nur (The Light). And in Hinduism, light symbolizes knowledge and consciousness, eliminating ignorance, which is why it's an integral part of many festivals and rituals, like Diwali, the festival of lights.

Lighting the Void: The Metaphysical Importance of Light

Let's veer a little bit into the metaphysical now. It isn't just about the physical properties of light, but more about how we humans perceive it. We see it as something that is good and positive, a counter to darkness, which can be scary and unknown. It's an element that is everywhere, that touches everyone. So, it's not surprising that the symbology extended into the metaphysical. Light becomes a lens through which we perceive the divine and our spiritual journey.

Perhaps it's about striving towards the things that light symbolizes - truth, wisdom, goodness, life, and enlightenment. Like moths to a flame, we are drawn to the light, both in its physical form and its metaphysical implications. And yes, I definitely meant to drop a moth joke there.

The Light of Personal Belief: An Anecdote

Now, I know I said I wouldn’t dive too deep into personal tales, but this one’s too good to pass up. And it involves my wife, Lydia Stevens, who, I must mention, is incredibly patient to share her life with a man who thinks the origin of the universe started with a "big whoosh" and claims that the meaning of life can be found on a pizza (it's a circle, it's infinite, and it's delicious - end of philosophy!)

So, Lydia and I were having a candlelit dinner at home, and she asked a fascinating question. She pondered, "Why do we find a candlelit dinner romantic?" She conjectured that maybe it's because we associate light with warmth and comfort. Or perhaps it's connected to our spirituality. Maybe the warm, soft glow of the light brings us closer to the divine, to each other, making us feel more intimate and connected. I remember looking into her eyes, reflecting the candle’s light, and thinking, she might be onto something.

When you think about it, light is central to our lives, not just on a personal, emotional level but also on a significant, spiritual level. It signifies hope, love, clarity, and above all, it illuminates our path, whether physical or spiritual.

So, there you have it. The next time you switch on your reading light, remember it's far more than just a convenient source of illumination. It represents lofty ideas, noble aspirations, and our perpetual journey out of darkness. As the famous quote goes: Light will someday split you open. Happy pondering, everyone!