Deborah Eden Tull is a Zen meditation and mindfulness teacher, author, activist, and sustainability educator. She spent seven years training as a Buddhist monk and has been living in sustainable communities for over 25 years. She teaches engaged awareness practice, which emphasizes the connection between personal awakening and global engagement. Eden draws upon teachings from the natural world and an embodied understanding of animism. She is the author of Luminous Darkness: An Engaged Buddhist Approach to Embracing the Unknown and other books. Eden offers retreats, online courses, and consultations internationally. To learn more, go to


If you’re an activist or a spiritual person, do you need ‘endarkenment’ as much as ‘enlightenment’? Hear Eden Tull explain in this interview why her answer is a resounding ‘yes.’


In this conversation, Eden and I discuss:


  • Why our ‘outer work’ of activism or contribution needs to be supported by ‘inner work’ that feeds compassion, resilience, and purpose. We are wildly creative beings who are meant to experience darkness “as the field of absolute rest and regeneration” that inspires our creativity.
  • A ‘dark time’ can be a personal experience or an experience a people or culture are going through. It can be ‘dark’ as in ‘unpleasant,’ or ‘dark’ as in ‘mysterious, uncertain or visionary.’
  • It’s counter-cultural to embrace darkness. But darkness includes beautiful halves of our reality such as the night, sleep, rest, interiority, sadness, wisdom, crisis, and fertile soil.
  • Ignoring darkness within and without can be a mistake because suppressing or ignoring our grief or horror at the world’s suffering prevents us from acting in healing ways.
  • Darkness can be a fertile space where we listen and discover creative solutions that are based in fierce compassion. “It’s in metabolizing our grief that we’re freed up to act in more constructive and creative ways.”
  • How her book offers a structure for going into ‘dark’ spaces—whether meditation, open inquiry, or grief for a planet in crisis—and letting them be fertile instead of without life. Endarkenment can be a process of transmuting pain into vision and vitality.
  • “We need to wake up more fully to our partnership with nature”—not by seeing ourselves as separate, but “by recognizing our innate oneness with the more than human world and Gaia consciousness…when we do this, we receive guidance and information.”