Radiance: 10 ways to radiate joy

Wipe the poison from your eyes

Ra, the ancient Egyptian, radiant God of the Sun, crosses the sky every day.  He rides in a boat named Manjet (the boat of millions of years). In the morning he is a newborn, by noon, he is at his strongest and at the end of the day, he is weak and old. He must then descend into the underworld to battle the great monsters of the nine caverns.  But he is so weak, he cannot possibly fight.  The crane-billed and wise Thoth, who drives his boat, and Ma'at, the goddess of cosmic balance, must fight his battles and steer his boat, so that the great Lord of the sky can be reborn to rise the Sun. In the ninth cavern, Thoth must wipe the monster's poison from Ra's eyes, so that Ra may drive his spear into Apep, the most fearsome of the monsters of Duat.  With the slaying of Apep, dawn breaks, making the sky red with the blood of the monster. Ra so relishes this play that he never tires of it; rather, the play of birth and death, battle, and rebirth is so fun, he wants to do it for all eternity.

In great delight, Ra jumps into the world again and again.  Being the great god, he knows the Universe is a just a play, here for our amusement and it is through this play one experiences complete freedom, illumination and radiance.  One becomes so radiant, in fact, that it lights up the whole of the world.

Lila is Sanskrit for “play.” In Hinduism, the concept of Lila is of the Universe as a playground of the gods.  Just as with the gods, it is in and through the play of this human experience, that we too, may know total absorption in the bliss-filled, Divine Mind, or samādhi, and become as radiant as Ra.  Samādhi is one of our four natural states, the other three being waking, dreaming and deep sleep.
Nothing new is achieved nor is that which in reality is unmanifested revealed - [only] the idea is eradicated that the luminous being shines not.
Abhinavagupta, in the The Doctrine of Vibration by Mark Dyczkowski

So if this is a natural state of all gods and humans, how do we wipe the poison from our eyes to see clearly?
The permanent attainment of samādhi [is established] by contemplating one's identity with Consciousness again and again in the state following meditation, which is full of the imprints of samādhi.
Sutra 19, Pratyabhijñã-hṛdayam, The Splendor of Recognition

Radiance, then, is achieved by the concentration and will seated in the navel chakra.  It is the intellect recalling, holding and recreating the expansive, sublime feeling of bliss and joy, the exuberant, breath taking identification with cosmic Consciousness, again and again. The meditative pathways to Divine yoga, or union, are as varied and as individual as all the forms of existence.  There is no one prescription. Sutra 18 of the Pratyabhijñã-hṛdayam uses the word adayah, which means and so on, et cetera, to describe the means to obtain samādhi.  This tells us that any experience of bliss and joy is the pathway to radiance.  
Whenever the mind finds its satisfaction, let it be concentrated on that. In every such case, the true nature of the highest bliss will shine forth.
Vijñāna-bhairava, The Radiance Sutras

The Radiance Sutras, by Lorin Roche is a luminous, modern translation of the ancient Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra. It is comprised of 112 meditative pathways (yuktis) to this Divine Union (yoga).  I draw from this playful text to create the children's lesson for this week, full of joy and radiance, the natural state of Samādhi.
Imagine the entire world consumed by flame.
Stay steady, do not waver,
As fire transmutes form into light.
The soul reveals itself
To itself as Radiance.
Sutra 30, Vijñāna-bhairava, The Radiance Sutras 


Affirmation:  I am Radiant, the Sun of God 
Chakra engaged: Navel/Solar plexus

Activity 1: Tell a story of Divine Union

The story of Saint George and the dragon was first recorded in medieval Christendom, around the 11th century, first published in The Golden Legend, or, Lives of the Saints, compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa , 1275. The story is rooted far earlier in the ancient Greek story of Perseus killing Typhon to save Andromeda, Ra killing Apep (ancient Egypt), Marduk killing Tiamat (Mesopotamia), light overcoming darkness.  In some versions of this story, Saint George merely tames the dragon, without killing it.  Find the story of Saint George and the dragon here on Storynory.com (in this version the dragon is killed).

The dragon represents that which poisons our understanding, or keeps us in the dark of the underworld.  It can be our fear, anger, envy, or any of the 7 deadly sins that keep us in a state of illusion and forgetfulness of our natural state of Samādhi.  Taming and killing the dragon and marrying the princess is to be released from the darkness of duality and to enter into light of Divine Union.

Activity 2: Flame meditation

Light a candle and let the flame be your focus.  Invite your child to stare at the flame with you and to relax and focus only on the dancing flame. Allow all thoughts to dissolve and only the flame to exist.  When the mind wanders, gently bring the focus back to the flame, so that it is all that exists. Continue this practice for as long as you feel your child can focus.  For the younger child, I start at 5 minutes moving up to 15 minutes for older children and longer for teens.
Imagine the entire world consumed by flame.
Stay steady, do not waver,
As fire transmutes form into light.
The soul reveals itself
To itself as Radiance.
Sutra 30, The Radiance Sutras, Vijñāna-bhairava

According the Lorin Roche, in the contemplation of Sutra 30 of the Radiance Sutras (above), in merging with the flame, the Self recognizes its own elemental nature.
Every particle of creation is aflame, a tiny sun.   Everyone and everything is already one with God.
Lorin Roche, The Radiance Sutras

Likewise Sutra 14 of Pratyabhijñã-hṛdayam by Kṣemarāja in The Splendor of Recognition states
The fire of Consciousness, even though hidden when it has descended to the [lower] stage, partly burns the fuel of that which is knowable.
This sutra points to the fact that even when we are at our lowest and the dragon is winning, the fire of Universal Consciousness, Samādhi, is still burning and still alive at the center of our being.  In seeing itself reflected it burns brighter.

Activity 3:  View the night sky

Kids love to go outside at night.  Often, there is little opportunity for children to explore the outdoors at night, and many children have a fear of the dark.  But with a little encouragement and incentive, their natural curiosity and sense of adventure takes over and they relish the opportunity to explore the night world.

Go outside on a moon-free, starry night in an area free of light pollution and look at the stars.  Tell about the incredible radiance of each of these suns and that each of these stars are suns with their own solar system. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second.  The light from our sun takes 8 minutes to travel to the Earth and  it takes 4 years to travel to Earth from the star closest to our galaxy, Alpha Centauri.  Light from the farthest galaxy takes over 13.3 billion years to travel to Earth.  Look for stars that are bigger, smaller, ones that twinkle or see if you can distinguish different colors.  Use binoculars or a telescope if you have one.  Look up your local astronomy club or call your local observatory to find out if they will hold public outdoor viewings.

In the northern hemisphere, see if you can find Draco, the dragon, a circumpolar constellation coiled around the sky's north star.  This constellation was one described by the Greeks as the dragon Ladon that guarded the golden apples of Hera. Ladon, born of Typhon, was killed by Heracles (Hercules), and then placed in the sky forever after by the goddess queen, Hera.  Feel free to make this Saint George's dragon.

Activity 4: Soak up the Sun's radiance

Go outside with your child and let the sun warm you through and through.  Luxuriate in the feeling of sun on your skin and body.  Feel how the sun's radiance induces drowsiness and stillness.  Absorb the rays. Relax and ease into a still, quiet mind around this good feeling.  If possible, concentrate and move deeper into the feeling, allowing yourself to reach a state of bliss and a state of Oneness with the Sun.

We have a spot on our front porch that is so perfect for soaking up the sun.  We sit there regularly and allow ourselves to become "cat"atonic.

Having had the feeling of blissful and total relaxation in the Sun, recall it for yourself and your child again and again at other times and as often as you need to re-experience merging into Oneness.

Activity 5: You are the Sun eating the Sun

One of our mealtime verses goes like this:

The silver rain
The golden sun
The fields where scarlet poppies run
And all the ripples of the wheat
Are in the bread that we do eat
So when we sit for every meal
We give thanks and always feel
That we are eating rain and sun
And fields where scarlet poppies run.

Lugh, the Celtic Sun God, was celebrated on August 1st, Lammas, the wheat harvest.  The Sun's light stored in the wheat, made into bread and eaten, becomes human.  Because of this, humans were celebrated as beings of light.  In the Christian tradition, eating of bread at communion is eating the flesh of God, and not very different from the ancient Celtic belief.

Plants grow by photosynthesis, which is sun energy converted to carbohydrate in the presence of water and carbon dioxide. Our food is stored energy of the sun. When eaten, it is converted into sugars and amino acids, released as fuel for the body.  So quite literally, we are fueled by the sun's radiance.

Although this can seem esoteric and intellectual, Lorin Roche in The Radiance Sutras, invites us to consider meditating on the fire of our body, with each cell as a little flame, transmuting elements into energy.  Our bodies burns at almost 100℉ all the time.  We are on fire.  We are fire.  We are the Sun.

Activity 6: Joyful Eating

Many yogi have described bliss arising from the simple pleasure of eating:
When one experiences the expansion of the joy of savor arising from the pleasure of eating and drinking, one should meditate on the perfect condition of this joy, and then one would become full of great bliss.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes about it in his book, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life.  Use the raisin meditation in my post on Pleasure to experience the bliss of eating.  Feel free to eat like this at every meal.

Activity 7: The little Soul and the Sun

The Little Soul and the Sun is one of my favorite books and although marketed as a children's book, is really a kid's book for grown ups and teens.  I have read it to younger children, as young as 9, who can grasp some of it.  In this book, Neale Donald Walsch explains the physical nature of our existence so clearly. I include it as an activity because it is conceptual and describes the source of our being, which is undifferentiated light and radiance, the Sun. In my family, this book has become a touchstone to re-center us into the truth of our being and nature.

Contemplate the entire Universe As a magic show On the grandest scale imaginable. Fabulous art, an immense painting in motion.God is a magician whirling galaxies of fire, Juggling atoms, planets, and us. Everything, everything is fleeting.
Meditating on this magic. Great happiness rises in the heart.
Sutra 79, The Radiance Sutras, Vijñāna-bhairava

Activity 8: Experience the terrific in terror

We all tremble, we all know fear.
Turn to the one life pervading the universe Whose name dispels fear.Find that name resonating in your heart.
Luminosity permeates the universe, And the secret sound that hums Everything into existence Resounds everywhere.
Listening to the inner sound continually, Become lovers with the Secret One.
Sutra 107, The Radiance Sutras, Vijñāna-bhairava

Thinking about the cosmos and eternity and the world consumed by flames or disease quite naturally brings terror into the minds of many children as well as adults.  I quite vividly remember many wakeful nights as a child spent in terror over the concept of eternity. When we accept the terror, embrace it, we can then allow it to open deeply into greater understanding.  I now use that childhood memory as an anchor into Divine Union. Bhairava of the Vijñāna-bhairava is the name of Shakti, the creative force of the Universe.  It also means "terrific." Lorin Roche, in The Radiance Sutras, offers several contemplations on this theme that are good for both adults and children.
  • Everyone is afraid (Bhaya sarvam)
  • Suns are also probably afraid when they die
  • God is here, inside my fear
  • The Universe is vast and terrifying, and yet permeated by a friendly consciousness.  I am that One.
  • The trembling I feel in terror is a vibration in my body.  Every cell is buzzing.  Listen to the fire crackling in your body.
Also see my story, We are Star People in Supernovae, Shooting Stars and Birthdays.

Activity 9: Aham- The secret sound that hums everything into existence

Lorin Roche writes writes that Aham, I am, is the source of all mantras with so many qualities "Ah!" in surprise, "Ha!" in laughter, "Mmmm!" in pleasure.  It is a primordial sound, like Om and Aum.  Repeat Aham on its own, or join Deva Premal in mantra repetition of Aham Prema (I am Divine Love)

Aham Prema
by Deva Premal

Activity 10: Affirmative prayer for Radiance

There is One.
This One is God.
I am One with God.
God is like the Sun and I am a flame.
God lives in me, just as there is light in a flame.
The flame of my spirit can grow large like the Sun.
I am the radiant, Sun of God.
I shine of everyone and everything.
I make the whole world warm with my radiant heart.
I feel it as a good, warm, glowing feeling all through my body
I am happy and joyful.
Thank you God!
And so it is.

Related Posts


Thank you to Dr. Bill Little who introduced me to the ancient texts of Kasmir Shaivism and to Rev. Sandy Leader for presenting the Shaivist writings in an organized fashion and to both and Cynthia Johnson Biancetta for introducing me to The Radiance Sutras.

My heartfelt gratitude to Esselen tribal leader Little Bear and his family for this week's retreat on the land and practice in radiance, where I deeply dove into these activities with my family and with all of nature.

Image credits

The images used in this post are free for commercials use from Pixabay.com.   Thank you to the following image artists:

Flower- Gerd Altmann 
Boat - Mary Gorobchenko
Sun- Gerd Altmann
St. George and the dragon - Dimitris Vetsikas
Flame- 41330
Starry night- FelixMittermeier
Constellation Draco - DarkWorkX
Cat sunbathing- ddzphoto
Wheat - Bruno /Germany


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