On the occasion of the Winter Solstice, my Bhikkhuni preceptor, Ayya Tathaaloka compiled these reflections that I gladly share.
Just following the New Years retreat, I go into retreat myself until end of March, with Interactive Inquiry calls continuing weekly with a team of facilitators until January 26 when I facillitate every two weeks interspersed with the rest of the team. Shakti Vihara schedule will continue every week beginning Feb 1 with chanting, meditation and listening to prerecorded Dharma talk rather than our tea and discussion (to support the continuity of the retreat).
From Darkness to Light
Dhamma Reflections for the Winter Solstice
by Ayya Tathaaloka Bhikkhuni
In the years before the Common Era, before the Buddha’s great Awakening,
and long before the birth of Christ, people prayed:
Lead me from the unreal to the Real
from darkness to Light
from death to Immortality
…and then the Bodhisattva was born into this world, and rediscovering the Way of ancient Buddhas, also became an Enlightened One.
Thus, in regards to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, penetration, and light.
In the Buddha’s Words in his “Bringer of Light” chapter Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi translates:
…There is one person who arises in the world for the welfare of the multitude, for the happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans. Who is that one person? It is the Tathagatha, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. This is that one person.
…The manifestation of one person is the manifestation of great vision, of great light, of great radiance; it is the manifestation of the six things unsurpassed; the realization of the four analytical knowledges; the penetration of the various elements, of the diversity of elements; it is the realization of the fruit of knowledge and liberation; the realization of the fruits of steam entry, once returning, non-returning, and arahantship. Who is that one person? It is the Tathagatha, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. This is that one person.
Anguttara Nikaya, Ones
On Darkness and its End the Buddha taught:
There is, monks, an inter-cosmic1 void, an unrestrained darkness, a pitch-black darkness, where even the light of the sun & moon — so mighty, so powerful — doesn’t reach.
When this was said, one of the monks said to the Blessed One, “Wow, what a great darkness! What a really great darkness! Is there any darkness greater & more frightening than that?
There is, monk, a darkness greater & more frightening than that.
And which darkness, lord, is greater & more frightening than that?
Any priests or contemplatives who do not know, as it actually is present, that ‘This is suffering’ ‘This is the origin of suffering’ ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ and ‘This is the Way leading to the cessation of suffering’…
On the Dark and Light destinations of persons he taught:
“There are these four types of people to be found existing in the world. Which four? One in darkness who is headed for darkness, one in darkness who is headed for light, one in light who is headed for
darkness, and one in light who is headed for light…
& the Puggalo Sutta
And then, on this Mind:
its Luminosity and its Freedom the Blessed One taught:
“Luminous, monks, is the mind.
And it is defiled by incoming defilements.”
“Luminous, monks, is the mind.
And it is freed from incoming defilements.”
“Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn’t discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind.”
“Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — there is development of the mind.”
And finally, from the Therigatha,
Enlightenment Verses of the Buddha’s Great Women Disciples:
Be filled with all good things,
like the moon on the fifteenth day,
full of wisdom
the massive dark.
The Buddha taught me the unshakable Way,
ordinary people don’t practice it,
there is nothing to which you can compare it,
When i heard his words
I lived in the joy of the teaching.
The great dark is torn apart,
you too, are destroyed.