THE FRUITFUL DARKNESS by Joan Halifax

THE FRUITFUL DARKNESS

Reconnecting with the Body of the Earth
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 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.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-250369-3
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993




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