The Fruitful Darkness: Reconnecting With the Body of the Earth

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9780062503695: The Fruitful Darkness: Reconnecting With the Body of the Earth

In this masterwork of an authentic spirit person” (Thomas Berry), Buddhist teacher and anthropologist Joan Halifax Roshi delves into the fruitful darkness” the shadow side of being, found in the root truths of Native religions, the fecundity of nature, and the stillness of meditation. In this highly personal and insightful odyssey of the heart and mind, she encounters Tibetan Buddhist meditators, Mexican shamans, and Native American elders, among others. In rapt prose, she recounts her explorations from Japanese Zen meditation to hallucinogenic plants, from the Dogon people of Mali to the Mayan rain forest, all the while creating "an adventure of the spirit and a feast of wisdom old and new” (Peter Matthiessen). Halifax believes that deep ecology (which attempts to fuse environmental awareness with spiritual values) works in tandem with Buddhism and shamanism to discover the interconnectedness of all life,” and to regain life’s sacredness. Grove Press is proud to reissue this important work by one of Buddhism’s leading contemporary teachers.

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About the Author:

Joan Halifax, PhD, is a Zen priest and anthropologist who has served on the faculty of Columbia University, the University of Miami School of Medicine, the New School for Social Research, and Naropa University. For forty years she has worked with dying people and has lectured on the subject of death and dying at Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Medical School, Georgetown Medical School, and many other academic institutions. In 1990, she founded Upaya Zen Center, a Buddhist study and social action center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1994, she founded the Project on Being with Dying, which has trained hundreds of health-care professionals in the contemplative care of dying people.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk, a renowned Zen master, a poet, and a peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967, and is the author of many books, including the best-selling The Miracle of Mindfulness.



JUDITH WEST has amused, informed, thrilled, and otherwise entertained via stage and studio for more than 20 years. A narrator, director, and writer for audiobooks since 1999, she also coaches narrators and has taught performance and directed at leading Chicago universities, and has extensive experience in print publishing as a writer, editor, and researcher. Judith lives with her rescued cats in a vintage Chicago bungalow off Devon Avenue, the nation’s most ethnically diverse street. Fittingly, she counts ethnic cooking, travel, and antiques among her pleasures.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Radical ecospiritual memoirs and meditations from a globe- trotting seeker of truth. Halifax (Shamanic Voices, 1991, etc.--not reviewed) boasts impressive New Age credentials: ex-wife of psychologist Stansilav Grof; former assistant to Joseph Campbell; creator of California's spiritually experimental Ojai Foundation; student of assorted shamans and of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (who offers a grateful introduction). During her decades of world travel--her memories here range from circumambulating a sacred Tibetan mountain to eating peyote in Mexico's Huichol Sierras--Halifax has evolved a worldview that rejects what she calls Western society's ``dualistic'' perspective in favor of one that perceives ``a self coextensive with all phenomena.'' Simply ``by being born,'' Halifax contends, we share ``the World Wound''--a state of universal suffering--that we can escape through several paths, or ``Ways'': the Way of ``Traditions''; of ``the Mountain''; of ``Language''; of ``Story''; of ``Nonduality''; of ``Protectors''; of ``Ancestors,'' and of ``Compassion.'' Each Way involves a return to ``the fruitful darkness''--the shadow side of things, found in the root truths of Native religions, in the fecundity of nature, and in the stillness of meditation. Halifax writes of these paths, and of how she's walked them, in loamy, para-poetic prose: ``Mountain's realization comes through the details of breath. Mountain appears in each step. Mountain then lives inside our bones, inside our heartdrum.'' While declarations such as these, examined in reason's cool light, can seem opaque, even wooly-headed, they gather real force as they roll over pages, ultimately offering a warm and potent testament to the author's beliefs and to a life lived vigorously for the sake of the spirit. Not for those enamored of logic and common sense. But those who wish to ``hear,'' as Halifax puts it, the ``language of the river, rock, and wind,'' will find much to listen to. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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