The doctrine of light is an ancient concept going back thousands of years to the times of the ancient Magi. One of the first recorded practices date back to the Persia empire at a time when Zoroasterism flourished; where the Sons of Light led by the God of creation and goodness: Ormuzd, ever battled the God of Darkness; Ahriman.
Light has always been symbolized as goodness and as a source of power and knowledge; a symbol of Truth. Darkness conjures the negative; such as ignorance or confusion. There have existed many mystery schools that have used light as a metaphor for a transfer of Wisdom; initiation, illumination, and enlightenment.
Light, as Wisdom, is a powerful concept. It should be distinguished from knowledge as found in the seven liberal arts and sciences Whereas knowledge is built up, one stone upon another; Wisdom has totality and synthesis of parts, transferred as a whole. Wisdom is passed from one being to another and is either discovered slowly as it unwinds into personal reality or suddenly realized through catharsis.
Wisdom is a matter of contact. Wisdom as a metaphysical concept represents presence and transference. Wisdom resulting from old age represents contact with 'life' and preservation through its many trials. Life itself has been symbolized as light. The light of life.
Divine Wisdom is also symbolized by light and is what is meant by a 'search for light'. This is a search for the being of God. Contact with divine manifestations result in deep understandings and influences. The Virtues, as a spiritual reality, have effects upon the self and civilization. It is our nature as human beings to personify spiritual influences as beings or objects found in our objective spheres. This is simply a method of perception and is acceptable to the processes of realization. To conceive a virtue as a being is to establish a communication, a form of contact that allows transference of Divine Wisdom. This is spirituality. But this is also a difficult and at times dangerous subject, not accepted or practiced by all. For the light of spirituality can easily give way to the darkness of superstition.
The search for light then is a search for true reality. As speculative Masons we search through internal reality. In contrast to the operative who built in the external and visible, where we travel is within the realm of the invisible. We must discern internal truths from erroneous fiction and myth. We have taken objective tools to assist in the realm of the subjective. We have illuminated the lamp of Masonry to search through the darkness within. We are ever searching for the light of God and through this process we discover true reality. Perhaps a spiritual reality.
We conceive through symbol and we build our knowledge base via symbol, but Wisdom bypasses this process. It goes direct to our hearts and minds. It then re-manifests as symbol capable of being projected into action. Behind the symbol of light is a reality and the discovery of this reality is a matter of faith and belief. Masonic light represents the sum total of wisdom of all who have ever taken and upheld the Masonic obligation...a great and mystic circle of being, traveling ever to the east in search of more light; more Wisdom.
If one believes in the Acacia, then the wisdom of our ancient Grand Master H.A. has not been lost. Thus, the Word is ever present, accessible within the realm of light, behind the symbol. With the assistance of the Virtues, personified and communicated with as divine beings of light or simply practiced as philosophical civilizing concepts, this realm can be reached. The Gematria discovered therein would be used to build an internal temple of light, a repository for more light. But this requires an enormous leap of faith, because one would have to leap beyond the symbol into the essence of reality.
But just as the Virtues can assist, so can lack of virtue become our stumbling blocks. For darkness can not enter into the realm of light. Many never get beyond the first maze of Temperance, let alone the wall of Fortitude. Before reaching the Oriental Light; learn, absorb and practice within the realm of Masonic Light. For within this light resides the Virtues as teachers; and the fires of Wisdom from past generations. If you can not hear the voice nor see this light, then how can you perceive divine light; more translucent than the rainbow, more complex than the Aurora Borealis, yet simpler than the aura of a single candle that lights our altar.