The Light of Compassion
by Dr. Michael W. Fox
The light of consciousness and the light of every living being are synonymous in the minds of many who are on the spiritual
path of enlightenment and who are familiar with the sacred scriptures of Hinduism. In the Taittiriya Upanishad, for example,
it is written:
"May the light of sacred knowledge illumine us, and may we attain the glory of wisdom." (1.3)
But there is also the light of love and compassion, as implied in the Chandogya Upanishad:
"There is a Light that shines beyond all things on earth, beyond us all, beyond the heavens, beyond the highest,
the very highest heavens. This is the Light that shines in our hearts." (3:13.7)
The three central themes of the Bhagavad Gita are jnana, bhakti and karma (Light, Love and Life). In Buddhism we also
find reference to the Light as a reflection of Buddha-nature, and also in Christianity, the haloes of Saints being the radiance
of divine nature.
The 13th century Sufi poet Jalalu l-Din Rumi advised: "If you keep your gaze fixed upon the Light, you will be delivered
from dualism and the plurality of the finite body." In more recent times, Martin Luther King wrote: "Every man must
decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness."
Light, enlightenment, wisdom and compassion are interwoven phenomena and concepts evident in the world’s major
religions that are linked with divine revelation and presence.
As a scientist, I have always had a healthy skepticism and curiosity about the phenomenology of 'the Light'. Reported
studies of auras, Kirlian photography, and other approaches taken by the material sciences to quantify what others believe
to be non-material, spiritual or purely subjective, do little to prove, disprove or enhance our understanding of the Light.
A few years before I was witness to the Light in India in association with animals, I was sent a photograph of a Tibetan
Buddhist monk blessing the animals. Along with this photograph came the following explanation:
In July 1985 the first Phowa course by the Ven. K.C. Ayang Rinpoche was held in Tokyo, Japan. After the course Rinpoche
made a short visit to holy places in Kyoto and Nara, the ancient capitals of Japan. On the 26th July a photo was taken of
Rinpoche with some deer in Nara Park. When the photo was developed a clear rainbow appeared on the print. Many people have
asked about the photo and this is the background to it.
On that day many photos were taken in the park but I clearly remember taking this one as Rinpoche went and sat with the
deer and said, "Take a photo now". This was the only time that he had asked for a photo to be taken.
After the photo was developed I asked Rinpoche why he thought the rainbow had appeared and what it could mean. He told
me that while he was sitting with the deer he had been strongly wishing that they could all go directly to the Buddha Amitabha
Pure Land after this life and that the Buddha Amitabha would make contact with them from that moment. It is his belief that
the Buddha Amitabha made contact with the deer at the time the picture was taken and that the power of His blessing appeared
in rainbow form. ( See photo below).
At the time the photo was taken no rainbow was visible and there was no rain. It was a clear, sunny afternoon and none
of the other photos had any rainbows or light effects although all were taken under the same light conditions within a short
space of time.
It is also interesting that the place where the photo was taken, Nara Park, is considered to be sacred ground and the
meeting point of several 'lay lines' (lines of energy in the earth that seem to be linked with the location of major holy
sites and buildings). This park contains three of Japan's most revered shrines and temples including Todaiji, an important
Buddhist temple famous for its huge statue of the Buddha Vairocana.
Rinpoche believes the real presence of the Buddha Amitabha is with this photo and has said, "I am praying that whoever
keeps this photo with strong confidence and devotion will become inseparable with the Buddha Amitabha's mercy and compassion."
(Jackie Young, The Rainbow Photograph of the Ven. K.C. Ayang Rinpoche) (SEE PHOTO BELOW).
With no intent to emulation, though I was deeply moved by the vision of the rainbow that is the spectral vision of the
Buddha-light of divine presence, I was no less touched by some of the photographs of my humble self, enjoying the blessings
of communion with a water buffalo, the emissaries from a herd of donkeys, and a billy-goat. These, and a total of some 200
animal souls, enjoyed the sanctuary of my wife Deanna Krantz's Animal Refuge in the Nilgiris, S. India. This peaceable kingdom
was a creation of loving compassion and years of dedicated hard work under inconceivably difficult circumstances. The light
of India does not shine very bright for her animals. In these photographs I saw what I felt at the time: a golden light, sometimes
with a whitish haze, almost dazzling, yet tender, around the animals. I recalled seeing at times the entire Animal Refuge
and staff suffused in this light that was omnipresent and intensified just before dusk---when top dog Dean would have me meditate.
I knew that it was for real. I had seen it go out after Deanna and some ninety animals were forced out from a defunct
animal shelter that she had been invited to restore -- but was not expected to confront the maya realm of endemic animal suffering,
cruelty, corruption and wildlife decimation in the surrounding jungle, which of course she did, and got into much trouble
for her good labors.
I realized that the Light had gone when I went back to the defunct sanctuary to pick up a few remaining items after Deanna
and most of the animals had been forced out. I was so surprised that I got out of the jeep to look. The sky was clear and
sunny, but all the vegetation, the earth, and the buildings had turned almost gray; everything seemed flat, tired, lacking
in radiance and vitality. Most of the birds had already left to relocate to her new refuge just across the little river no
more than 300 yards away, where there was food, water and sanctuary for all.
I remembered, as I stood there in disbelief in this dispirited place, that I had seen the same loss of light in the captive
elephants in American zoos and circuses, and also at a nearby Elephant camp. Compared to those in the wild who roamed nearby,
it was quite apparent that these poor elephants had lost their radiance and vitality. Clearly my senses had revealed to me
a phenomenon about which I had had no prior intimation as either part of my education or culture. The consequences of compassionate
care are indeed profound, teaching me another way of seeing, if not another dimension of life. I will be forever grateful
for the happy and secure creatures at Deanna’s refuge who embraced me in the Light, and of course to her.
INTERPRETING OUR VISIONS---DEPARTED ANIMALS AND OTHER HEART-CONNECTIONS
Acceptance comes before interpretation and understanding.
I was sorting through all my animal and environment-related files recently and I came across a cluster of saved correspondence
from readers of my &"Animal Doctor" newspaper column, syndicated across North America, who say, felt and otherwise
experienced the physical presence of a deceased animal companion. I was surprised and impressed by the number of readers,(whose
input about their animals I have appreciated for some 40 years and more!) who affirmed that there are other dimensions to
the various and separate realities we create with our culturally shaped and conditioned states of mind.
One of the most vivid accounts (included in my book Cat Body, Cat Mind) was from a couple who both saw their deceased
cat enter their living room in a halo of light after previously filling the artists' studio with an indescribably sublime
fragrance. I have had personal accounts of people dying and giving off that kind of fragrance; and even a major newspaper
reporter seeing the ephemeral shape of his beloved dog arise from his canine companion during the chemical-injection initiated
How are these kinds of visionary experiences properly interpreted? Are they hallucinations, self-comforting imaginative
creations, conditioned associative memories awakened by grief and remorse, or glimpses of the quantum field of love (which
I term the empathosphere) and life after life? I envision this as part of the boundless connectivity of a creative life-force
from which the code of life, genetically and ethically manifested in our consciousness, we express as the light of compassionate
action, loving kindness (maitri) and obedience to the Golden Rule.
Sometimes a camera will catch the images which our rational minds of such experiences would deny: Like the rainbow that
appeared when a Tibetan monk was blessing some deer in a park in Japan. My rendition of a vision that I experienced in the
ancient St Oran&'s Chapel close to the abbey on the Isle of Iona on the west coast of Scotland invokes a sense of the
numinous for some, an affirmation that this world is but one reality of which there are many dimensions, including the manifestations
of our loved ones, human and non-human, after their mortal existence has come to its end. So soon will ours.
These kinds of phenomena, and the visionary experiences described over the ages by people of various religious traditions
and beliefs as well as secular non-believers who have had transcendental, metaphysical/spiritual experiences in times of grief
and other emotional crises, during prayer and meditation, or ecstatic communion, often in Nature beside a waterfall, ancient
tree or upon seeing a wild creature---integral and culturally accepted elements of the Vision Quest of Native Americans, ---cannot
be denied: Except perhaps by the instrumental rationalism of the dominant culture of materialism/mammonism that is destroying
the Soul of the Earth and all our sacred connections to the life and beauty within us and around us.
I would appreciate responses from readers after viewing the two images posted below (email me at IPAN@erols.com). I feel
that these metaphysical/mystical dimensions are significant in these difficult times of escalating religious and political
conflict, ecological desecration and suffering, not as an escape but as an affirmation that we are part of one stupendous
whole and that there is a deeper, spiritual dimension to all our lives which we must not abandon and become extinct by losing
our humanity, or succumb to chauvinism and materialism, and instead evolve spiritually and ethically as a more empathic and
July 26, 1985 Nara park, Japan, Ven. K.C. Ayang Rinpoche blessing the deer
Vision on Iona in St Oran’s Chapel, July 1958