Physical Light as a Metaphor for Inner Light

Liane Gabora


The metaphor between physical light and inner light has a long history that permeates diverse languages and cultures. This paper outlines a system for using basic principles from optics to visually represent psychological states and processes, such as ideation, enlightenment, mindfulness, and fragmentation versus integrity, as well as situations that occur between people involving phenomena such as honest versus deceptive communication, and understanding versus misunderstanding. The paper summarizes two ongoing projects based on this system: The ‘Light and Enlightenment” art installation project, and the Soultracker virtual reality project. These projects enable people to depict their inner lives and external worlds including situations and relationships with others, both as they are and as they could be, and explore alternative paths for navigating challenges and living to their fullest potential. The projects aim to be of clinical value as therapeutic tools, as well as of pedagogical value by providing a concrete language for depicting aspects of human nature that can otherwise seem elusive and intangible.


metaphor; light; psychological states; communication; inner / external world

Full Text:



Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY- 4.0)

Firenze University Press
Via Cittadella, 7 - 50144 Firenze
Tel. (0039) 055 2757700 Fax (0039) 055 2757712