I just completed my third darkness retreat, during which I spent 11 days in a room completely devoid of light. I don’t want to write too in depth about the experiences that I had during it, as many of them were deeply personal. However, I would like to share some content that I feel does a great job encapsulating a few of the truths that these experiences strongly supported.
If you would like to hear more about the retreat, please reach out to me directly at email@example.com, and I’d be happy to tell you more about it over the phone or zoom.
Excerpt from Touching Enlightenment, by Reginald Ray
“Whatever arises in and through the body does so, as we have seen, in accordance with the operation of karma. Karma holds our locked-up awareness, the larger buddha nature, of which we are only partially aware. Whatever of our karmic totality has not made its way into conscious awareness abides in the body. At any given time, a certain aspect of that totality begins to press toward consciousness; the totality intends that this come to birth now. It might not be pressing toward awareness until just now because, before this moment, it was not ready to do so, having been held at some deep level of enfoldment. Again, it may not have appeared in consciousness because, though ready to emerge at a certain moment as a step in our development, we have resisted it and pushed it back into the body. Either way, at a certain point, there is a pressure from the body toward consciousness, to communicate whatever, in the mysterious timing of our existence, is needed or appropriate. If we resist what is appearing in the body, at the verge of our awareness—and most of us modern people do habitually resist in order to rigidly maintain ourselves—what is trying to arise is pushed back, denied, and again held at bay in the body. There it resides within the shadows of our somatic being, in an ever-increasing residue—as that which our consciousness is in the continual process of ignoring, resisting, and denying. Residing in the shadows, all those aspects of our totality that are being denied admittance into conscious awareness continue to function in a powerful but unseen way, being reflected in the nature, structure, and activity of our ego. This process roughly corresponds to the psychological concept of repression, but there are some important differences. For one thing, the activity of the ego in “repressing” experience is seen here as ultimately not negative, but dynamic and creative in function. In our life, the ego emerges out of the unconscious as the field of our conscious awareness, the immediate domain in which our experience can be received and integrated. At the same time, the ego moderates what it takes in, resisting that which it is unready and unable to receive. There is much intelligence in this. An ego that is too rigid and frozen cannot accommodate the experience that is needed in order for us to grow. But an ego that is simply overwhelmed and pushed aside by experience cannot integrate the needed experience either. Spirituality, it would seem, depends on an ego—a field of consciousness—that can change and grow with the needs of our journey toward wholeness. Thus it is that spirituality is not about “getting rid of” or obliterating the ego, but rather about enabling the ego into a process of openness, increasing experience, death, and rebirth, as it integrates more and more of the buddha nature and itself becomes more aligned with and in service to our own totality. A buddha is not a person who has eliminated or wiped away his or her ego, but someone in whom the ego has integrated so much that there is no longer any room for individual identity at all.”
Excerpt from Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts
It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.
Artist whose work I’ve been enjoying: GorkhaNepal