When light is visible and organized into concrete objects, reality is material. When light contains feeling, thought, and intelligence, reality is quantum. When light is completely unmanifest, with no qualities anyone can measure, reality is virtual.
Inner and outer vision are not separate. The mystical branch of Islam known as Sufism declares that all light, inner and outer, is but one light. This is something people find hard to accept, because the duality of inner versus outer, real versus unreal, objective versus subjective has been drilled into us since birth. To get past this dualism, we have to return to our three levels of existence.
In place of the old dualism that insists upon keeping our inner and outer life apart, we can restore the light to its wholeness. One can think of a photon as the archetype of all energy that is blossoming out from nothing and nowhere to something and somewhere: the bridge for mystical awakenings is light as it moves from virtual to material existence.
In this scheme one traditional belief gets reversed. The virtual domain, unlike heaven, is our source rather than our destination after death. When physicists declare that the cosmos once had ten or more dimensions, all but four of which collapsed back where they came from, the virtual state is where they went.
In order for a packet of energy to appear, to be seen by the eyes as photons, it doesn’t suddenly jump into material existence. Between the void and visible light, between darkness and things you can see and touch, there is the quantum layer. This level is accessible to our brains, which are quantum machines that create thought by manipulating energy into intricate patterns. At this level light dawns as awareness of something, rather than simply being awareness in its pure state.
Adapted from How To Know God, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2000).