Luminous Life: How The Science Of Light Unlocks The Art Of Living

Dr. Jacob Israel Liberman on the impact of sunlight on a plant’s growth and development. Integrating scientific research, clinical practice, and direct experience Dr. Jacob Israel Liberman demonstrates how the luminous intelligence we call light effortlessly guides us toward health, contentment, and a life filled with purpose.

Most of us are aware of the impact of sunlight on a plant’s growth and development. But few of us realize that plants are not passive recipients in this process. A plant actually “sees” where light is emanating from and naturally positions itself to be in optimal alignment with it, facilitating the process of photosynthesis. But this example of how a plant responds to light in order to fulfill its purpose for being is not just occurring in the plant kingdom.

There are countless species whose life journeys are guided by the sun’s light. In addition to jellyfish, whales and penguins, many other creatures—ranging from butterflies to songbirds—take part in extraordinary migratory journeys, guided by something outside themselves that is inseparably aligned with something within them. When we learn about such feats, we often marvel at these creatures’ amazing ability to travel from Point A to Point B. In the absence of maps and GPS technology, how do they find their way—never varying their routes, never getting lost, never second-guessing themselves, and never bickering with one another about the right route to take?

As human beings, we too are equipped with the same guidance technology as these other amazing creatures. One obvious difference between these animals and us: They do not override their inner guidance with thinking. They do not question the arc of the sun. They do not choose or not choose to follow it. They do not trust the light, nor do they distrust it. They merely follow the light as it leads them to their destination.

As humans, we are directed by the same intelligence of life, which continually guides all of nature and its creatures, from a snail’s crawl to the movement of the galaxies. But unlike the 10,000-mile yearly migration of humpback whales that never varies by more than one degree, humans obscure their inner guidance system with thinking, superseding this orchestration and disturbing the natural life direction that light provides us with.

This phenomenon first became evident when I discovered that my patients’ eyes and their minds were not looking at the same point—a misalignment or lack of congruence between their inner and outer worlds—making it impossible for them to perform at their maximum potential. In working with them, I realized that most were looking “too hard,” instead of allowing the world to unfold before their eyes—a common human condition that contributed to their vision deterioration. I also observed that the more my patients worked at seeing or understanding something, the more they held their breath and the less they actually saw. However, when their natural breathing cycle was restored, they relaxed, and their vision and learning ability significantly improved.

Based on this realization, I started working with my own vision to see if I could naturally improve it. To my amazement, in 1976 while practicing as an optometrist, I experienced a sudden and very significant improvement in eyesight, with no measurable change in my eyeglass prescription. The effect of that miraculous event, which has now persisted for over forty years, led me to the realization that while we look with our eyes, we do not “see” with them. This spurred me on a mission to discover the true source of our seeing, the connection between light, vision and consciousness and, most importantly, who am I, and who is truly the seer?

So I began a real-time experiment on the workings of my mind. My hope was to uncover a portal into the state of consciousness where profound healing occurs, which in turn would allow me to teach others how to replicate my experience. What I discovered transformed my life and revealed some fundamental truths about light, vision, and that elusive state we call presence – helping me unravel how light continually guides our life.

What is Light?

More than waves and particles, light is a purveyor of consciousness. It is not just something “out there” that we need in order to see, but light seeks us out and guides us in the same way it seeks out and directs a plant to grow toward it. There is something inherently alive in it. And, astonishing as it might seem, light not only enters us through our eyes and skin; we literally have light emanating from within us. Consider how babies perceive the world around them. Light ignites their awareness — unobstructed by thought, belief, or worry — and it radiates back into the world as an expression of pure presence. That’s why their eyes sparkle. As we grow from babies, who exist in this unfettered state, to adults who are taught to look for life, look for love, look for work, we overlook the fact that our eyes and our minds are not designed to look for light, but to respond to it.

What is Presence?

Despite popular belief, attaining presence isn’t about thinking or trying to be here now. Rather, it is a naturally occurring state that arises when our eyes and mind, triggered by light, focus on the same place at the same time. In response to light’s invitation and guidance, our eyes begin an intricate dance of aiming, focusing, tracking and teaming. When light first “awakens” us, our eyes aim toward its emanation, initiating an all-encompassing state of presence. Though we often relate presence to attention, it has no tension associated with it — a forced voluntary process of selecting one aspect of our environment to focus on while ignoring others. Presence is an involuntary response to an invitation by life’s intelligence pointing us toward our maximum potential.

Our degree of presence is directly related to how effortlessly and accurately our eyes are able to aim. When the eyes aim effectively, making eye contact with — and thus, acknowledging — what has called to them, we experience congruence. This is a state of coming together, the perfect alignment of our outer and inner worlds. When the physical eyes (which receive 80-90% of our life experience) are not aligned with the “mind’s eye,” it is nearly impossible to experience presence or oneness. However, if we stop trying and instead tap into our breath, the eyes and mind unite, yielding a profound state of presence. Without any effort, the world is revealed to us, allowing us to respond to life’s invitations with ease.

What Is Catching Your Eye?

I learned a great deal from observing my children when they were very young. Like most children, they often played with toys, leaving them out when they were finished. I repeatedly asked them to put their toys away, which only seemed to work when I insisted. I then had a strong feeling that if I see it, it is my responsibility. I began wondering what would happen if I started responding to everything that caught my eye. So I began an around-the-clock practice that went like this: anything that entered my awareness became my responsibility. Anything that was my responsibility, I would attend to. And anything I attended to, I would complete. I did this practice for a week and did not let anything get by me. By Sunday, I was picking up cigarette butts off the street.

This practice in presence — a kind of moving meditation — made me feel that I no longer needed to prioritize my schedule, because life had already done that, drawing my awareness to whatever required its attention. In addition, my presence — and in turn, my vision — deepened as I stopped ignoring what I was seeing.

Life is continually serving us our curriculum. If we naturally respond moment-by-moment to what is calling us, we not only experience an amazing state of grace, but we develop a real sense of self-respect, knowing that whatever life brings, we will meet head on.

This effortless state of being allows us to respond to life more fluidly in the same way that children do. Infants and children do not look for anything, they simply respond to whatever calls their attention. When we reawaken this innate ability in ourselves, our lives transform radically.  We enter what is often referred to as “the zone,” “the flow,” or even “genius consciousness,” in which “we” disappear and what remains is presence. Everything becomes clear and undisguised, resulting in a deep and abiding sense of peace.  Following the intelligence of light, we benefit from the guiding compass of the universe, and let life look for us.

About the author: Dr. Jacob Israel Liberman is the author of Light: Medicine Of The Future and Take Off Your Glasses And See. His newest book Luminous Life: How the Science of Light Unlocks the Art of Living will be published in February 2018 by New World Library. To learn more, please visit

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