At the retreat last week, one of the participants quoted from a book describing seeing people and things as light. Joel said it is a metaphor, but is that really so?
I find that much of what may appear as a metaphor is really the most direct way of talking about certain experiences. Emptiness is really a noticing of the no-thingness that everything comes out of and is. Luminosity is really luminosity. The luminous blackness is really experienced as black.
In these cases, it is experienced quite directly as empty, luminous and a luminous blackness.
Emptiness is not just a metaphor for “no self”. Luminosity is not a metaphor for awareness. The luminous black is not a metaphor for emptiness or not knowing.
And so it seems with this description too, of people and things as light.
In my initial awakening, I too experienced/saw people and things as light, in three ways. First, by seeing auras (of people, animals, plants, inanimate objects) and the volume of it turned way up. Everything became luminous since it was seen through the light of the aura. (It seems that form itself was also seen as luminosity but it is difficult to say for certain since it appeared as light just by seeing it through the aura.) Then, through my “inner eye” where I experienced all form as brilliant golden luminosity. And finally, during stability practice where everything in the visual field becomes golden light – with slightly darker outlines.
Each of these are still with me, although the volume of the auras is turned a little down, unless I bring attention to it. The experiencing form as golden luminosity is also a little in the background, partly because seeing the luminous dark in/through form is more in the foreground. And everything in the visual field still becomes golden luminosity as soon as there is even moderate stability in sitting practice.
In each of these ways, there is nothing metaphorical about describing people and things as light. It is the description closest to direct experience.
This is not very important in itself, unless you happen to do a research project on these things. But it is important as an example of how descriptions may be closer to direct and immediate experience than they appear. And also as a reminder of the many facets of reality available to us, and to not assume that what we have experience with so far (which is always very limited) is all there is.