A celebration of the life-enriching—indeed, indispensable—properties of the night.
Strand (Waking the Buddha: How the Most Dynamic and Empowering Buddhist Movement in History Is Changing Our Concept of Religion, 2014, etc.) delivers a significant amount of experiential melding to existential thoughtfulness in this book about the sublime and elemental powers of the dark. Not the dark of cellars and closets but rather night, with “its monochrome wonders, its velvety silences and distant muffled sounds.” The author expresses his distress over how we often ignore the splendor of the night, and he looks at his personal experiences with the dark, from early youth to today—especially the two hours of sleepy wakefulness between three or four hours of sleep on either side. For many, these can be fretful hours. The author, however, cherishes the vulnerability as a letting go, a transcendence to the divine, however one chooses to understand that state. Strand is passionate about the subject, displaying a blunt, fervent honesty. The advent of electricity damaged our relationship with the dark (allowing for an overflow of consciousness), writes the author, though various religious teachings had already made a significant dent—e.g., encouraging the elevation of humans above all else, inevitably leading to the abuse of the planet. The author pushes for a re-enchantment with the night, which for him means getting up, going for a walk where it is dark—as Strand suggests the ancients did—and seeing if the dark can open a numinous space in both head and heart. Throughout, the author gives a stark voice to fundamentals: “Simplicity is always the answer”; “The problem we face today is a crisis of values.” In working with those fundamentals, he finds an embracing comfort. “In the dark we recover our simplicity, our happiness, and our relatedness,” he writes, “because in the dark we remember our souls.”
An exigent, affecting summons to rediscover the night.