Excerpt from an interview with one of my primary teachers, Dr. Reggie Ray, in which he’s discusses his experience in a dark retreat 

So the second step on the spiritual journey, at least according to the Tantric tradition, is that we have to dismantle the patterns of pettiness that are activated when we’re in our ordinary life. We have to dismantle them. Really, what happens in the darkness is, once the mind . . . once the mind really starts opening up, you start meeting some very interesting people. These interesting people are people from your past, but they’re people who are affecting you and actually taking you over right now as you live your life. These people are what I call, or what I might call undeveloped or incomplete parts of ourselves. They’re what Jung called complexes. They are little bundles of response, of conditioned response, that have developed in relationship to all kinds of situations throughout our whole life going back to probably when we were in the womb.

For example, in my case, I go into dark retreat, and the initial few days are very interesting, wonderful, and there’s a part of me that would like to say, “Okay, fine. I’m out of here!” but I stick with it because of this next step. What starts to happen is I will begin to encounter emotional responses that are very limited and very petty, and they arise in relationship to specific situations. I’ll give you an example. (We’ll see how far we want to go with this. You know, I’m not going to necessarily go through an archaeology of my personal psyche, but I want to give some examples.) As children, all of us have this experience of being very little and having these big people in our environment. The problem with the big people is, in our estimation, they were supposed to take care of us, and they had the power to resolve things that we couldn’t resolve—pain, hunger, fear, whatever—and they often didn’t do it. That experience is in us, and amazingly enough, as we discover through darkness practice, that experience of people who are bigger than us, and who could help us, but won’t do it, and the resultant response of resentment and anger and even rage, is activated all the time in our lives. It comes up all the time in relation to anybody we perceive as big. The problem with that response coming up is that we shut down. We shut down, and we actually live in the emotional state of that two year old. That’s how constricted our world is.

In my case, I’ve identified about sixty-five different what I call inferior personalities—inferior not in the sense of being bad, but just limited—and different situations in my life activate them. That’s what we call samsara: that we live from one limited state to the other, going from one to the other, depending on which external situation is going on out there. Do we feel betrayed? Do we feel undermined? Do we feel undernourished? Do we feel abused? Whatever it may be, we never get out. That’s what the prison is: It’s the kaleidoscope of these inferior parts of ourselves.

What happens in darkness practice is something will come up, and the interesting thing about darkness is, when they come up, they really come up. They take over the field of consciousness, and I become the two year old. The interesting thing is, usually in life when that starts happening, we go call a friend, or we’ll turn on the TV, or we’ll eat some chocolate, or we’ll have a drink, or we’ll get in the car and go shopping, but in the darkness, there are no breaks. In other words, when it comes up and takes over the field of consciousness, there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re stuck. Amazingly enough, that’s how you resolve that person: by becoming that person and living through the experience that person had from the beginning to the end, and sometimes it takes a long time—six hours, twelve hours, three days later it comes back—but that’s how you resolve karma, by completing the experience that got started, but because of our infantile and weak ego structure, we couldn’t do it at that time, and now here we are and that’s what we’re doing. 


Event recommendation: Deep Singing at Indralaya 

Deep singing at Indralaya has become one of the highlights of my year. A description from their website is attached below. In order to learn more and register, click here

“Lift your voice in harmony with others and experience the healing, pure joy and deep sense of wholeness that arises from within. For the weekend program, there are three group singing sessions each day on Friday and Saturday — morning and afternoon in ‘deep singing’ (chants, rounds, and simple part harmonies that can be learned by ear) and evenings for sharing and sing-a-longs. Sunday morning there will be one last deep singing together before sending you on your way.”


Anecdote from a friend 

Recently a trusted friend of mine mentioned that a child he knows who was suffering from epileptic seizures experienced a miraculous recovery immediately after starting to learn a musical instrument. Goes to show what can happen when “bad” energy is given a new outlet. 


Music Recommendations