Made by different spiritual traditions as Taoists, Buddhists of the Vajrayana tradition in the Himalayan area, where the yogis retreated into caves seeking to find a deep state of meditation, Samadhi.
Dark retreat is what the Dzogchen tradition calls it. In India, retreats in darkness are generally called Kaya Kalpa. The term Kaya means eternal or inmortal. Kaya Kalpa means eternal body or body under construction.
Kaya Kalpa has three fundamental objectives:
- Slow down the aging process.
- Maintaining excellent physical health and a youthful vitality.
- Postpone physical death until one reaches Jiva-Mukta or spiritual liberation.
Although it is not he main purpose, a rejuvenation of the physical body occurs naturally. The yogis associate the fluid of eternal life, Soma, with the energy of the moon, essential vital energy that recharges the human being during the night and that the inner sun burns. In this case, the day is the symbol of all dualities and the personal domain of action, while the night is the symbol of eternity, contemplation and the time of regeneration.
Darkness implies the state of deprivation of all proof and psychological support. The night suggests emptiness or nakedness that purifies the mind. Deprived of light, we are totally dispossessed. It is said that we are in the cloud of ignorance, the nigredo of the alchemists.
The journey to darkness is the first essence of alchemical spiritual work.
In a retreat of darkness, as well as in deep sleep, all the objective world disappears but the witness remains surrounded by the nothingness. The limits exist due to light. When there is no light, the limits dissolve.
Traditionally, dark retreats were carried out by advanced practitioners of the Dzogchen lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and the period ranged from several hours to decades.
Some historians suggest that the ancient egyptians and mayans also practiced a form of dark retreat, which traditionally lasted ten days.
The Tao says, "when you enter darkness and it becomes absolute, darkness soon becomes light".
At the beginning, retreats of darkness of maximum seven days of duration are recommended.
Among its benefits we highlight a breakthrough in the encounter of oneself, as well as a benefit in physical, mental and spiritual health.
Requirements to have a retreat of fruitful darkness
- Proper practice.
- Outside guiding person.
- Satvic medicinal diet that will be provided from the outside by the guide once a day.