Just before his awakening, the Buddha, who had been following a rigorous and effortful ascetic path, received insight through a childhood memory. He recalled resting as a boy beneath the maternal shade of a rose apple tree. In the restorative embrace of this tree, the Buddha opened to a deep peace and the trance of separation spontaneously dissolved. Through recalling this memory of luminous darkness, the Buddha let go of his ascetic practice and opened to the path of awakening.
Awakening is a path — not of seeking illumination or transcendence — but of finding wholeness through surrendering to the fertile and dark emptiness from which revelation arises. Both the spiritual path and global uncertainty invite us to navigate darkness and the unknown. Yet in today’s world, there exists a historical bias towards light and against dark that can impact us in unconscious ways. Our dualistic associations have created a tear in the fabric of human relationship and a disconnect in our relationship with the natural world. They also create an obstacle to knowing our inner truth, which in its full form expresses the radiance of both light and dark.
It is in our original nature to celebrate the spectrum and interplay of dark and light. Night and day, receptive and expressive, yin and yang, emptiness and fullness naturally exist in dynamic balance together. This can be difficult to grasp from binary perception, which continually insists on "this or that" rather than "this and that." In order to know this balance, we need to remember how to respect darkness, listen to darkness, and be open to the teacher of luminous darkness.
In the words of Eihei Dogen, the twelfth-century founder of Soto Zen, in “The Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi”: Light and darkness are a pair, like the foot before and the foot behind, in walking. Each thing has its own intrinsic value and is related to everything else in function and position.
Please join us for a deeply restorative, embodied exploration of Luminous Darkness, based on Deborah Eden Tull’s new book, Luminous Darkness: An Engaged Buddhist Approach to Embracing the Unknown. Our time together will include meditation, dharma talks, mindful inquiry, relational mindfulness, connection with the earth, and conscious movement. All are welcome… both meditators with long-time experience and those who are newer to practice. Racial affinity groups will be offered for certain topics within our exploration.