“The mind of the contemplative, purified, disciplined, deliberately abstracted from images, is inundated by the divine sunshine, ‘the Light which is not God, but that whereby we see Him’; and in that radiance achieves a hurried but convincing vision of Supreme Reality. But ‘even though the eagle, king of birds, can with his powerful sight gaze steadfastly upon the brightness of the sun; yet do the weaker eyes of the bat fail and falter in the same.’ The intellectual vision is dazzled and distressed, like a man who can bear the diffused radiance of sunshine but is blinded if he dares to follow back the beams to the terrible beauty of their source.” ~Evelyn Underhill
There is a Divine Light which come to us from the sun, but that does not mean all sunlight is Divine Light. Many frequencies of light and energy come to us from the sun and most of them are not divine in the sense that is meant in the quote.
That light which is “not God, but that whereby we see Him,” is not physical light, but spiritual. Being spiritual that Divine Sunlight comes from the spiritual sun, not the physical.
The Eagle and the Bat
The references to the eagle and the bat are allegorical. While what is said may be true on a literal and physical level, that doesn’t matter. It is the spiritual interpretation that is important.
On a spiritual level, the eagle is an allegorical representation of a spiritual student. A student who has been well trained and is ready for what Reality has to offer. He has rid himself of false beliefs and limitations as much as possible. She has no preconceived notions of God and the spiritual realms accept that they are superior to the physical. This eagle is ready to look at the sunshine and follow back the beams to the spiritual sun. And once having done that, the eagle student can go even further over time until he reaches the true source in God.
The Bat, on the other hand is a materialist. She does not really believe in anything spiritual. He sees God as an old man sitting on a cloud rather than as a spiritual being of Pure Light. She believes the tales told by state-approved churches about how serving others on the material level is what being “holy” is all about. He thinks he need to do nothing to awaken his spiritual faculties. Like the bat, he lives in the dark, and the bright light blinds him. Such a person must approach spiritual development slowly and deliberately with the help of a good teacher. It isn’t that this person can never become spiritual, he just has to work at it longer and with greater care. And initially, this person needs to be convinced that developing spiritually is important. That is often the hardest part.
Ms. Underhill says the intellectual cannot bear the Divine Sunlight because his vision is “dazzled and distressed”. This is another allegory. The intellectual may have perfect eyesight. But that eyesight is limited to seeing the physical realm. He cannot see the spiritual, and doesn’t want to. He is happy living in his illusion of the physical being the all. He is content to accept that the universe just popped into existence of it’s own accord, no intelligence involved. So he is “dazzled” by illusion, as are many, yet distressed. Distressed because deep down he feels there must be more but is unwilling to look for that something more outside of the limits of matter.
The good news is that such an explorer may one day be convinced to look outside the box, and see the Divine Sunlight. It is there already, we just need to attune ourselves to it.