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The Mysterious Nature of Light

Optometrist Jacob Liberman on how studying light changed his entire life, including his relationship with God.


Forty-three years ago, optometrist Jacob Liberman found himself at a crossroads. He felt called to help people see more clearly, but the pursuit left him with a question: Was true vision limited to what the eye could perceive? He took up meditation to find answers.

During one meditation session, he had an incredible experience that changed his view of the world forever. Since then, he’s devoted his life to the study of light, perception and consciousness. His experience and discoveries are the subject of his latest book, Luminous Life.  He sat down with Mysterious Ways to discuss his findings.

You write in your book about a profound experience you had while meditating. Can you describe it for us?

As usual, I’d gone to my bedroom, taken off my glasses, sat on the floor with my eyes closed and let my mind go free. But after about 20 minutes, I was aware of seeing myself sitting in the room. The awareness was simultaneously occurring from everywhere. It felt as if I had become the sky. As if I were everywhere. I noticed that the whole space was filled with little sparkles, sparkles of light. The air around me wasn’t empty at all. I came to a sudden realization: There’s a whole world going on that we don’t see because we’ve been led to believe there’s nothing there.

That must have been a little unnerving.

Yes, it was scary. I was trying to understand what was going on.

And your glasses were still off?

Yes. When I opened my eyes, something felt different. I walked around my house, confused. Did I just experience a miracle? Did I have a tumor?  I had no idea. Everything was astoundingly clear—optically, yes. Beyond that, I felt mentally and spiritually clear.  My mind was quiet for the first time in a long time. When I subsequently tested my vision, it had improved by 300 percent. There was no medical explanation. More than four decades later, I still don’t wear glasses. I’m not totally sure what happened that day. But the experience made me think—perhaps we only look with the eyes, not see with them. Maybe the eyes are just processors of light.

What happened next?

At first I was still feeling stressed and unhappy. Trying to understand the experience I’d had, I played around with breathing techniques and something I termed open focus, when I would keep my eyes open and literally look at nothing. I began wondering what would happen if I started responding to everything that caught my eye, letting the light guide my focus, my awareness. I began a practice that anything that caught my eye I would attend to. By week’s end, I was more aware of everything. My stress was gone. I read everything I could about light and the mind and talking to my patients about what I was finding.

You came to believe that light is how people receive information, wisdom, energy, everything. How did you arrive at that conclusion?

Everything in this universe emerges from this energy we call light. We’ve come to think of the ability to have thoughts as consciousness. But today we know that plants also have their own version of consciousness. How do they receive information? From light. For humans, the act of trying, working hard, paying attention, all these things that we do, actually get in the way of our ability to see and know effortlessly. We think that we need to be in control, but the answers to life actually come right to us—if we let them.

And you have a biological explanation for this?

No portion of our physiology initiates action. Everything that the body does, every cell, is responding to something. The something is an animating force that guides us, that moves things, in the same way that a plant does not do anything on its own.  It moves to align itself with light, and it grows in response to light calling. The same thing occurs in our bodies.

Do you think that what we think of as God is actually manifested through light?

Yes. And that’s not a unique idea. The Bible says, “God is light.” And every cell of our body is made to respond to light. We now know, scientifically, that every cell in the body has “eyes”—photoreceptors that detect and respond to single photons. A photon is the smallest essence of what we call light. Light is always searching for us. Enlightenment comes when we are open to receiving it.

How do we become more receptive to light?

There are techniques I outline in my book that help in focusing your eyes, so that you are more aware. And there are relaxation techniques such as meditation. Meditating helps you realize that you are not the activity, that there is nothing you should be doing but observing. The idea is not to do more but to create a situation that flows with our natural life. It’s about always being present. That’s how we become aware of the light that’s all around us.

How does letting the light come to you play out in day-to-day life?

It’s very simple. You don’t have to ever decide anything. If you are just there, you will be guided. What catches your eye is looking for you. That is a level of clarity and enlightenment. It’s so simple, we can’t imagine it. Being more receptive helps us relinquish control and realize that ultimately we are not in control.

How has experiencing all this changed your own life?

It’s made me closer to friends and family. My whole life has become about helping others. I’m deeply touched by the simplest things. I see others exactly as I see myself.

How has it changed your relationship with God?

It’s made me realize that I’m inseparable from that source. That source is not something outside me. It’s that silent, spacious observer that’s always a part of me.

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