Dip any straight object in water and it will appear bent. The objects themselves do not become bent, they only appear bent. The interesting thing is that you are well aware that the objects do not actually bend – but still you see them as bent. You can make the experiment any number of times, the result will be the same. Put your hand into the water and you can feel that the object is still straight. And yet your hands and your eyes are giving contradictory information. The air medium and the water medium change the path of the light rays.
Let us understand it in another way. You may have seen a prism. If the sun’s rays are passed through the prism the rays are divided into seven colors.
You may have seen a rainbow. That too is a play on the principle of the prism. What is really happening when you see a rainbow? The sun’s rays are always coming towards the earth, but whenever there are tiny droplets of water in the atmosphere these droplets function as a prism and divide the sun’s rays into seven colors and they are seen as a rainbow. A rainbow is nothing but the sun’s rays passing through water droplets. There will be no rainbow if there is no sun in the sky or if there are no clouds and water droplets.
A prism, or drops of water, divide the sun’s rays into seven colors; they are mediums. If you see the sun’s rays passing through a water drop you will see seven colors. If you see it without water drops, it is white, it has no color. White is not a color, it is an absence of colors.
The mind, the intellect too is similar, it acts as a medium. As an object appears bent inside water and light passing through a prism divides itself into seven colors, the mind, the thoughts, are similarly a subtle medium. Whatsoever we recognize through it is split into two, a division is created.
Intellect creates division. If you look at anything through intellect…for example, when we look at light the mind divides it at once into two parts: darkness and light. In fact in existence there is no division between light and darkness; they are the progressive and regressive expansions of one reality. This is why some birds are able to see in darkness. If darkness was absolute darkness, the owl would not be able to see. It is only able to see because in darkness too is some light. It is only that our eyes are not able to catch that light and the owl’s eyes can. The darkness is also subtle light.
If there is a very bright light our eyes cannot see it. Our eyes have a limited spectrum of seeing; they cannot see above it, they cannot see below it. Beyond these upper and lower limits there is darkness for our eyes. Have you ever noticed that if your eyes are suddenly confronted with a very bright light source everything goes dark before you? The eye is not able to see that much light.
So darkness is of two types. What we see as light is as far as the spectrum of our seeing capacity allows. Above that and below that there is darkness. If the capacity of our eyes is reduced the light becomes darkness; if the capacity of our eyes is increased the darkness becomes light. The blind man has no capacity at all to see, so everything is darkness; there is no light at all for him. But light and darkness are one in existence. It is because of our intellect that they appear as two.