New Year’s Retreat: Non-Duality of Sacred Darkness and Sacred Light
John Orr and Ronya Banks
December 28, 2023 - January 3, 2024
Since ancient times, in the Northern Hemisphere, this period at the end of December has been celebrated by many cultures as the season where there is more darkness and the transition into the new year where there is gradually more light. We all have forces of darkness and light within us. Our fears, negatives and sometimes greedy and grasping minds are part of our human experience as is
our joy, love and peace of mind. Our meditation practices and the Dharma gives us the teachings and tools to be able to hold the darkness in the light of our awareness, acceptance, kindness and compassion. Our inner work isn’t to get rid of what we each may deem as being “dark” within ourselves, but to let our innate light and love hold the darkness in Non Dual Awareness. Indeed, Sacred Darkness and Sacred Light are not separate from each other. Just as the light of day isn’t separate from the darkness of night. They morph into and are a part of each other, especially noticeable at dawn and dusk.
Through Vipassana (Insight) Meditation we are able to see what causes suffering for each of us. The practice of Pure Awareness helps us to connect with and relax into the essence of our true nature, which many experience as spaciousness, radiance and love. These two practices along with heart-centered meditations and chanting from various spiritual traditions create a foundation for practice where we are able to reside stable on the middle of the bridge holding simultaneously whatever we experience as darkness and light in our lives.
Within the framework of noble silence, the retreat will also include optional yoga/movement, small group meetings to discuss what we are experiencing and individual meetings as needed.
Important: We request that everyone who attends already have completed one silent weeklong meditation retreat. If you have any question as to the appropriateness of this retreat for you, contact John Orr via email.
Join us for our annual New Year Retreat as we welcome in 2024 in silence, community and peace.
Until further notice, registration for our residential programs is restricted to individuals who have or will receive their final Covid-19 vaccination at least two weeks before their arrival on site. We will be restricting total retreat capacity to allow for comfortable, unmasked participation, as well as the option of outdoor dining. Please be prepared to present proof of your vaccination upon request. We also require all registered participants to present negative results from a Covid test performed in the 3 days prior to the start of your retreat AND that you consent to being tested upon your arrival at Southern Dharma. Any rapid antigen test is acceptable for testing, including over-the-counter at-home tests.
Thank you for your understanding as we work to ensure the safety of our staff, teachers, retreatants, and larger community!
Check-in from 4-6pm; Early arrivals may be accommodated – email firstname.lastname@example.org to request.
Departures will take place by 2:00pm on the last day of retreat. Please make sure that you can attend the full program before registering.
For our 2023 retreats, three fee tiers are offered. Please choose the option that best fits your ability to give in this time. Any amount paid above the Base rate is a tax deductible contribution to Southern Dharma Retreat Center. Your confirmation email is your receipt for tax purposes.
We are deeply grateful for your support.
Note that registration fees do not include dana for the teacher(s). In the Buddhist tradition the teachings are offered freely and teachers are not paid for their offerings. They rely on dana contributions from students. Similarly, Southern Dharma keeps registration fees low to ensure the Dharma is accessible to all. Fees cover only a fraction of Southern Dharma’s operating expenses. We appreciate your practice of generosity to continue the dissemination of the Dharma.
Housing and all meals are included in the program fee. We are currently offering six housing options:
- Bed in Lodge, shared double room (2nd floor)
- Bed in Lodge, dorm with privacy partitions (3rd floor)
- Unheated kuti (single cabin, outdoor bathroom)
- Heated kuti (single cabin, outdoor bathroom)
- Canvas Tent (furnished, outdoor bathroom)
- Basic Tent Platform
Please use the appropriate field in the registration process to let us know your preferences in regards to housing, if any, and also specify if you insist on or prefer being housed with others of the same gender. All housing options are priced the same except for the Basic Tent Platform.
Southern Dharma is now offering 50% scholarship awards for BIPOC and Young Adults, in addition to those with financial need. Indicate your interest in a Southern Dharma in-house scholarship during the registration process.
This program is also eligible for Hemera Contemplative Fellowships. Please note that you must apply for the Fellowship prior to registering for any program. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.
John Orr (he/him) received Theravada Buddhist ordination and training for…
Learn more about John Orr
Ronya Banks (she/her) is the founding teacher of the Asheville…
Learn more about Ronya Banks