S A C R E D   L I G H T

A Hindu man, bathed in moonlight, meditates along the Ganges river in India. Another carries that holy water on his back, up many steps, as a devotional offering to a nearby temple. All around me Hindu pilgrims have come long distances to bathe, to contemplate, and for some to die. There is no doubt, I am in a very sacred place, drenched in a warm sacred light.


Three days walk from the nearest automobile, on the roof of the world in the Himalaya mountains of Nepal, the air is clear and sharp. Up before dawn, I climb in the dark chasing the early morning light. In its daily ceremony, the rising sun touches the tops of the highest mountains, blessing them with a new day. In the freezing cold of the high Himalaya morning I take in the innate beauty of nature.


Wandering the stone carved maze of Jerusalem’s old city I find myself up on the rooftops surrounded by a sea of crosses, minarets, and TV antennas. The sun has set, painting the spires of competing modes of worship in a sarcastic silhouette. Looking for their own light Muslims, Jews and Christians have come from all over the world to bathe themselves in the often harsh yet sacred light of this ancient city of stone and spirit.

Why I am drawn to images of belief and the sacred? I am, it would seem, an unlikely sort to be poking around churches, mosques and holy sites around the world. But I am thoroughly fascinated with what people believe and why. The variety and commonality of belief around the world is striking, intellectually as well as visually. What we believe says a great deal about ourselves. It reveals our relationship with our human condition, maybe our dissatisfaction. I myself am not Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or a true spiritual seeker of any kind. I prefer the world just as it is. In the words of Buddha as he sat looking up at the morning star: “How wonderful. How wonderful. All things are enlightened exactly as they are!”

 

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