Consciousness is “light” (jyoti) because light illuminates the world and makes it perceptible. External objects are described as “dark” (tamas) because they are insentient. Yes, this is a dualistic paradigm, but is nonetheless useful and accurate because it describes the situation in the external world – which in fact is a dualistic reality.
Infinite lights shine upon the dark world, but the peculiar thing about consciousness-light which is different from ordinary light is that it is “svayam-jyoti” – a light that illuminates things only for the light-source (svayam-jyoti, btw, also means that it can illuminate itself to itself). Someone in a different city reads a Harry Potter novel, for example, and their consciousness illuminates the book to themselves. I don’t learn all about the goings on of Hogwarts as a result of someone else reading the book. I don’t see what you see, only you see what you see. [note: it IS possible to see what others see, but only if one looks inward properly]
Therefore the world is “dark” even though it has infinite points of light in it. The world only becomes bright to us, only insofar as we shine our own light upon it.
We try to shine our light upon other sources of light, but all we can illuminate is their projection into the external world of objects. This is because our light is fixed towards that external direction – we are “bahir-mukha jīva” – consciousness that faces outward. We try to experience and understand other people – the most valuable objects in existence – but we fail to penetrate beyond their mutable and mysterious physical, intellectual and emotional layers.
Direct experience of other sources of light (other “souls”) is not possible while our own light shines outward. Only when we illuminate our own inner reality can we be truly connected to other conscious, sentient beings – via Paramātma – a super-conscious being at the root of all conscious beings.
– Vraja Kishor