Into the Valley of Being
Time & Location
We live in unusual times –we are slowly learning to live with the fact that we KNOW very little….certainties that we did not know we had, have fallen away, like meeting other people and travelling. This also applies to people on the Buddhist Path: meditating together or going on retreats has often become impossible.
“We” or who we thought ‘we’ were, has been put into question. We know less; we are less able to act, do, instigate, manage our lives in the way ‘we’ thought of as normal.
Arundhati Roy says “Coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality”, trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality.” (FT article)
Maybe it is time to move to a different kind of knowing; also a different kind of practice of meditation. Some Buddhist paths speak of transcendence of mundane existence, as if one were ascending to the mountaintop. Some others (e.g. the Japanese Pure Land School, as described in the book River of Fire, River of Water by Taitetsu Unno) speak of a descent into the valley, where fecundity is nourished and dynamic creativity is born. Also a resting place for everything that is washed down from the mountaintop, welcoming the unwanted, the disappointed, and the broken. A place to discover the meaning of life in the abyss of the darkness of ignorance.
Drawing on these themes we will spend the evening with some practice of being present, without doing – in movement and meditation. Playfully we can discover what is already present naturally, without effort, and can be discovered with curiosity and attentiveness.
Donations for this evening will go towards supporting homeless people via Shelter.