When one experiences different forms of light and colors in meditation - such as red, yellow, blue, ochre, etc. - how can one know to which layers of being they belong? Is there any gradual sequence of color and light experiences before reaching the ultimate light experience?
Light itself is colorless. All colors belong to light, but light is not a color. Light is just the absence of colors. Light is white; white is not a color. When light is divided, analyzed or passed through a prism, then it is divided into seven colors.
Mind also works as a prism - an inner prism. The outer light, if passed through a prism, is divided into seven colors; the inner light, if passed through mind, is divided into seven colors. So the experience of colors in the inward journey means that you are still in mind. The experience of light is beyond mind, but the experience of colors is within mind. So if you are still seeing colors, then you are still within mind. The mind has not been transcended.
So the first thing to remember is that the experience of colors is within mind, because mind works as a prism through which the inner light is divided. So first one begins to experience colors; then colors dissolve and only light remains.
Light is white; white is not a color. When all the colors are one, white is created. When all the colors are one, when you feel white, when all the colors are there undivided, then you experience white. When no color is there, then you experience black. Both black and white are not colors. When no color is present, then there is black. When all colors are present, undivided, then there is white. All the colors are just divided light.
If you are feeling colors inside, then one thing: you are within mind. So the experience of colors is mental, it is not spiritual. The experience of light is spiritual, but not of colors - because when mind is no more you cannot experience colors. Then only light is experienced.
Secondly, there is no fixed sequence of colors. There cannot be because each mind differs. But the experience of light is exactly the same. Buddha experiencing light or Jesus experiencing light - the experience is the same. It cannot be otherwise because that which creates differences is no more. Mind creates differences.
We are here - we are different because of our minds. If mind is no more, then the factor which divides, which differentiates, is not there. So the experience of light is similar, but the experiences of colors are different and the sequence differs. That’s why, in each religion, a different sequence has been given. Some believe that this color comes first and that comes in the end; others believe quite differently. That difference is really the difference of minds. For example, a person who is fearful, deeply rooted in fear, will experience yellow as the first color. The first color coming in will be yellow, because yellow is the color of death - not only symbolically, but actually also.
If you take three bottles - one red, one yellow, one just white, plain white - and just put into these three bottles the same water, the yellow bottle will deteriorate first. Then the others will deteriorate. The red bottle of water will deteriorate in the end, last. Yellow is a death color. That’s why Buddha chose yellow as the robe for his bhikkhus - because Buddha says that to die from this existence absolutely is nirvana. So yellow was chosen as a death color.
Hindus have chosen ochre, a shade of red, as the color for their sannyasins, because red or ochre is the color of life - just the opposite of yellow. It helps you to be more alive, more radiant. It creates more energy - not only symbolically, but actually, physically, chemically. So a person who is very energetic, alive, deeply rooted in the love of life, will experience red as the first color because his mind is more open to red. A fear-oriented person is more open to yellow, so the sequence will differ. A very silent person, one who is very still, will experience blue as the first. So it will depend.
There is no fixed sequence because there is no fixed sequence of your mind. Each mind differs in orientation, in tendencies, in structure, in character. Each mind differs: because of this difference the sequence will be different. But one thing is certain: each color has a fixed meaning. The sequence is not fixed, it cannot be, but the meaning of the color is fixed.
For example, yellow is a death color. So whenever it happens first it means you are fear-oriented - that your mind’s first opening is for fear. So wherever you move the first thing you will notice will be fear, or the first reaction of your mind in any new situation will be fear. Whenever something strange is there the first response will be fear-filled. If red is the first color in your inner journey then you are more rooted in the love of life and your reactions will be different. You will feel more alive and your reactions will be more life affirmative.
A person whose first experience is yellow will always interpret everything in terms of death, and a person whose first experience is red will always interpret his experiences in terms of life. Even if someone is just dying he will begin to think that he must be reborn somewhere else. Even in death he will interpret rebirth. But for the person whose first experience is yellow, even if someone is born he will begin to think that he is going to die some day. These will be the attitudes. So a red-oriented person can be happy even in death, but a yellow-oriented person cannot be happy even in birth. He will be negative. Fear is a negative emotion. Everywhere he will find something to be sad and negative about.
For example, I said that a very silent person will feel blue, but this means a silent person who is inactive at the same time. A silent person who is active at the same time will feel green as the first experience. Mohammed chose green as the color for his fakirs. Islam has green as the symbolic color. That is the color of their flag. Green is both - silent, still, but also active. Blue is just silent and inactive. So a person like Lao Tzu will first begin to feel blue; a person like Mohammed will begin to feel green first. So the symbolic system of colors is a fixed thing, but the sequence is not fixed.
Another thing has to be noted, and that is that seven colors are pure colors. But you can mix two, you can mix three, and a new color comes out. So it may be that you never experience pure color in the beginning. You may experience three colors, their combination, or two colors or four colors. Then again it depends on your mind. If you have a very confused mind, then your confusion will be shown in the colors.
Now in the West they have evolved a color test in psychology, and it has been proving very meaningful. Just giving you many colors and allowing you to choose the first preference, then the second, then the third, then the fourth, decides much, shows much. If you are sincere and honest, then it shows much about your mind, because you cannot choose without any inner cause. If you choose yellow first, the logic of it is that then red will be the last. It has its own logic. If death is your first choice, then life is going to be your last, you will put red as the last. And one who chooses red first will automatically choose yellow as the last. The sequence will also show the structure of the mind.
But once, twice, thrice - the cards are given to you again and again - and the strange thing is that the first time you choose yellow, your first preference, then the second time you are given the same cards but you don’t choose yellow as your first preference. The third time you choose something else, and the whole sequence changes. So the cards are given seven times. If a person goes on choosing yellow as the first color continually, for seven times, then it shows a very fixed mind - very much fixed, a fixation. This man is constantly rooted in fear. He must be living in many phobias, because everything will take the shape of fear. But if he is given the cards another seven times and now he changes - once blue and once green and once something else - then there is a double sequence. One sequence in one series and another sequence in the second series - that also shows much. In the second series, if he never repeats one color as his first preference, that shows he is very fluctuating and nothing can be decisively said about him. He will be unpredictable. And the sequence also changes because the mind is changing constantly.
Recently, because of LSD, marijuana and other drugs, many things have come up from the unconscious mind. When Aldous Huxley told about his experiences with LSD, he talked as if he had entered heaven. Everything was beautiful, utopian, colorful, poetic. Nothing was bad in it. There was nothing like a nightmare - nothing of fear or death. Everything was alive, abundantly alive, rich. But when Zaehner took it, he entered hell. With the same LSD he entered hell, and it was a long nightmare - horror-filled.
Both misinterpreted their experiences. Aldous Huxley thought that this was a quality of LSD and that because of LSD this heaven experience had come up. Zaehner interpreted quite diametrically opposite from Huxley and he said, “It is just a nightmare, a deep horror. One must not go into it - it can create madness.” But the interpretation is on the same lines: he also thought that it was LSD which had created this experience.
The reality is different. It was LSD working only as a catalytic agent. LSD cannot create heaven, cannot create hell. LSD can only open you, and whatsoever is in you is projected. So if Zaehner’s experience is absolutely colorless it is because of Zaehner’s mind, and if Huxley’s experience is colorful it is because of Huxley’s mind. LSD can only give you a glimpse into your own mind. It can open your own deeper layers. So if you have a suppressed unconscious inside, then you may enter hell; or if you have nothing suppressed, if you have a relaxed unconscious, a natural one, then you may enter heaven - but that will depend on what type of mind you have. The same happens when one goes deep into an inner journey. Whatsoever you encounter is your own mind. Remember this - whatsoever you encounter, it is your own mind.
The color sequence is also your own mind’s sequence, but one has to go beyond colors. Whatsoever the sequence, one has to go beyond colors. So one must continuously remember that colors are mental. They cannot exist without mind - the mind working as a prism. When you go beyond mind there is light - colorless, absolutely white - and when this whiteness begins to be there, only then have you gone beyond mind.
Jainas have chosen white as the color for their monks and for their nuns, and the choice is meaningful. As Buddhists have chosen yellow and Hindus ochre, Jainas have chosen white because they say only when white begins does spirituality really begin. Mohammed has chosen green because he says if silence is dead, then it is meaningless. Silence must be active, it must participate in the world, so a saint must also be a soldier. He has chosen green. All colors are meaningful.
There is a Sufi sect which uses black - black clothes for their fakirs. Black is also very, very meaningful. It shows absence - no color, everything absent. It is just the contrary of white. Sufis say that unless we become totally absent, the God cannot be present to us. So one must be like black - absolutely absent, a nonentity, a nonbeing, just a nothingness. They have chosen black.
Colors are meaningful. So with whatsoever you choose you show much. Even your clothes indicate much. Nothing is just accidental. If you have chosen a particular color for your clothes it is not accidental. You may not be aware why you have chosen it, but science is aware - and it shows much. Your clothes show much because they belong to your mind, and your mind chooses. You cannot choose without your mind having certain leanings, certain tendencies.
So the sequence will be different, but all sequences and all colors belong to your mind. Don’t be bothered much about them. Whatsoever color is felt, just go on passing it, don’t stick to it. Sticking to it is the natural tendency. If there is some beautiful color, one becomes stuck to it - don’t! Move! Remember that colors belong to mind. And if some color is fearful, one goes back so that it is not felt. That too is not good, because if you go back no transformation is possible. Pass through it. Don’t go back. It is your mind: pass through it! Even if a color is fearful, even if ugly, even if chaotic or beautiful or harmonious, whatsoever, go through it.
You must reach a point where colors are not, but only light remains. That entry into light is spiritual. Everything before that is mental.
From the Book: The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 01