Experiment with Light: How We Might Receive Guidance and Strengthen our Connections With The Invisible World
By Richard Fuller
The most wonderful and terrifying thing George Fox said was that we can all have a direct connection with the Divine. We do not need priests or other intermediaries to give us guidance about how to live our lives. This got George into a lot of trouble in the mid-1600s and many of his followers, as well. And yet there must have been something to it, as the movement now called the Religious Society of Friends persists, even without the hierarchical structure and accumulated wealth of an established church. In the late 20th century a British Friend, Rex Ambler, studied Fox’s writings very carefully, along with the writings of some other influential Friends of Fox’s time. It seemed to him that George had a program for tuning to the Inner Light, even though he never systematized it in his writings. Rex distilled out the steps of this program and has been using them himself and presenting them to Quaker groups for most of this decade. Over 100 Experiment with Light groups have sprung up as a result of Ambler’s work. Of course these Quaker groups have added their own variations and refinements to Fox’s program, as Ambler understood it, but the basic steps, simplified to their minimum, follow the same form.
Here is that form, assembled in Fox’s original language.
Experiment with Light (EWL) meditation by Klaus Huber, August 2000, using edited passages from George Fox’s writings
(When this is done as a meditation there are several minutes of silence after each step.)
1. Keep within. For the measure is within, and the light is within, and the pearl is within you.
2. Let the light that shines in everyone of your consciences, search you thoroughly, and it will let you clearly see. As the light opens and exercises your conscience, it will let you see invisible things, which are clearly seen by that which is invisible in you.
3. As the light appeared, all appeared that is out of the light, darkness, death, temptations, the unrighteous, the ungodly; all was manifest and seen in the light.
4. Do not look at the temptations, confusions, corruptions, but at the light that discovers them. For looking down at corruption and distraction, you are swallowed up in it; but looking at the light that discovers them, you will see over them. There is the first step to peace.
5. The light will lead you out of darkness into the light of life, into the way of peace and into the life and power of truth.
6. Living in the truth ye live in the love and unity. In the light walk, and ye will shine.
Here are the same steps, with a double variation. They were written by Rex Ambler in modern English, and this is his variation focused on “the world,” rather than “the individual.” (Because here I am offering the conceptual outline rather than the full one-page meditation guide, I have trimmed out much of Rex’s supporting text.)
1. Relax body and mind. Start by making yourself perfectly comfortable…. We want to know the truth about our world. So let yourself become wholly receptive.
2. In this receptive state of mind, let the real issues of the world emerge. Ask yourself: “What is really going on in the world? … Don’t try to answer yourself. Let the answer come. Let the light show you what is happening.
3. Now focus on one issue that presents itself, … let a word or image come that says what it’s really like, what it is that touches you.
4. Now ask yourself what makes it like that. … then wait for an image, a word, a memory. Be open to the truth, hard though it may be, and it will surely be revealed to you.
5. When the answer comes, welcome it.
6. Now finally, consider how you need to act.
When you feel ready, open your eyes, stretch your limbs, and bring the meditation to an end.
Both these forms of the Experiment with Light meditation are from published sources, and both can be found at: http://www.charlieblackfield.com/light/
This website is an excellent place to begin your own investigation.
Also, www.QuakerBooks.org has seven related resources. Searching QuakerBooks.org for “Ambler” and then for “experiment” will display them all. The most basic book to start with is Rex’s Light to Live By. It’s short, readable, personal and presents Rex’s basic discovery process, and the resulting practice he developed. Ambler has also compiled an anthology of Fox’s writings, titled Truth of the Heart.
The TCFM library also has resources.
In early 2010
Lois Yellowthunder presented a general introduction to EWL at the January 31 Adult Ed hour.
We will had two “Launch Meetings” not long after. Our goals were:
- Give anyone in TCFM who is curious about the Experiment With Light (EWL) exercise the basic information and a chance to practice, briefly.
- Help one or more ongoing Experiment With Light groups form.
These should be only five-to-seven people per group. More than this make adequate sharing difficult. Once a group is established, it is on its own, guided by the published materials, Spirit, and the common sense of its members. For this reason, people should select others whom they trust and feel they can work with. There are a variety of issues we will cover like guidelines for sharing and for (not) giving advice.
- Consider whether, as a Meeting community, we want to do more, hold additional EWL orientation sessions, or whatever.
Why do I think this is a valuable exercise?
I was raised in the religion of scientism, so I was taught to believe that doing something like this was silly. “Superstitious.” I have grown to recognize that my training did not adequately explain the real world I experience. Still, I cannot embrace the “God-He” of popular culture that my parents were reacting against.
Early Quakers were way ahead of me on this one. They were acutely aware of the dangers of the current “Father-God” thinking and they were just as aware that there was “something” available to us. One of the central Quaker beliefs is that the “something” is essentially unnameable. It lives in each of us in a place beyond the reach of words. To worship in silence is an act of faith that “there is something going on.” Something that connects us to…. Fox’s words, above, deliberately point to something beyond the words, using several terms, as if none were adequate.
Rex Ambler points out that, in his early preaching, George usually had only a day or two before he was run out of town. His method of getting in touch with the Inner Light, the Seed, the Pearl, was so simple that it could be taught in this short time, including the Q&A. And then, repeatedly, when Fox or other Quakers returned to one of those towns a year later, they found a group had formed and survived a year under the church radar, practicing their Experiment with Light. The method had put them in touch with a sustaining power.